P school is not easy.
And it doesn’t matter if it’s your first attempt or your third. Nothing about constantly having your nose in a book, balancing work with school (and clinical time, and third rides) is fun or easy.
And it’s not supposed to be.
And then you hit the dreaded Cardiac chapter. And even though you might have been through this before, you realize that you have to read the same paragraph three times to retain the information. Information that you had down pat just a few years earlier seems to run away to the parts of your head that you can’t access at the most inopportune times.
You find yourself unable to remember what you walked into the kitchen for. You start calling your four-year-old little girl by the wrong name. Repeatedly. And She’s less than impressed by this. Then again she’s less than impressed by just about everything you do and at least it’s a name she recognizes…
The truth is that I’ve hit a brick wall. And something has to give. Unfortunately for now that has to be my posts here. For just a little bit.
That being said an amazing group of people have stepped forward and offered to takeover the blog for a bit. Some of them you’ll know, some you might not be as familiar with. All of them are far better at this writing stuff than I am.
I’ll be back as soon as I’m through cardiac.
With that being said, I’m very honored to present you with our first guest blogger, Greg Friese.
5 Things I learned in Paramedic School
In May of 2005 I completed a nine month paramedic program. Nearly five years later I can barely comprehend how I attended class two or three days a week, finished all my clinicals before the end of March, worked full-time, and welcomed our first child into the world eight weeks before graduation.
Along the way I learned a few things that I don’t recall seeing in the syllabus and as I look back may be the most important lessons I learned.
- Everyone has advice, but that advice is not always for everyone. Lower the bevel angle. Who showed you to use such a low angle? Approach from the lateral edge. Plunge right in. Move real slow. Tension the skin here. That is not enough tension. That is too much tension. Start high. Start low. I could probably write a reasonably sized book with all the various IV insertion advice I received. Like most things there are many techniques, tips, and tricks. Once I focused on just doing it with confidence the cascade of advice dried up and my success rate increased.
- I couldn’t learn it all. Not in nine months, probably not even in 24 months could I learn everything about being a paramedic. What I did get though was a foundation so I could keep learning and growing as a paramedic.
- The people that smile a lot were always helpful. Kristen, an ER nurse, had an amazing smile. I remember pushing and pulling a recently deceased patient onto the funeral home gurney as she continued to explain and teach me about the code we had run an hour earlier. I gravitated to Kristen even though she was not my “official” preceptor because she was friendly with her patients. Her enthusiasm for being with patients and their families overflowed onto me and other students. Spend time with the people that genuinely smile the quickest when you enter the room.
- Neonatal Advanced Life Support certification is way more information than any expecting dad should have seven days before their first child’s due date. As the Doctor explained the worrisome fetal monitor tracing, copious red vaginal bleeding, and weakening contractions I wished for ignorance. Instead my mind raced with things like placenta abruption, uterine rupture, and breach birth as the surgical team rushed into the room preparing my wife for an emergency c-section. Thankfully, less than an hour later a ten and half pound boy entered the world healthy and screaming and NALS worries drained away.
- Priorities can change really fast when something big happens. There were several big events during my paramedic training – a large work project, a dramatic situation with a friend, and our first child. Each time something big happened I reshuffled the deck and came up with a new plan. I would love to tell you I studied as hard, listened as well, and read just as many pages in the last two months as I did in the first seven months. But there was no way I could hammer out another hour of studying when little Michael just needed to be cuddled.
Finally, stress and fatigue for me come in waves. Throughout paramedic class there were highs and lows. Then and now when I recognize I am at the peak of the stress wave I try to step out of it for a moment, reaffirm where I am going, eliminate any obvious clutter, and reenergize for the next manageable chunk of time and tasks.