I think we would all agree that EMS is currently at a crossroads.  Much of the nation’s healthcare entities are in the same place.  The winds of change are beginning to blow.  Many agencies, both public and private, are wondering how the future of healthcare will change the way they operate and how they can adjust their practices to be successful.  We’re being asked to increase the quality of our treatment, our equipment, and the rest of our services and we’re often times being asked to do it with a smaller budget.  What can we do?  The field is ripe for EMS research and literature to guide and direct the profession in the coming years.  We are at a place and time where we, EMTs, Medics, Administrators, can really advance this field.  We often times talk about how we don’t get enough respect for the work we do.  Well we’re in a position to change that.  EMS is a very young profession and has matured greatly in the past 30-40 years that is has been around.  But we now have the opportunity to make great changes and improvements.  Every profession has that pivotal moment that can make or break it.  Now, I don’t believe EMS runs the risk of extinction, but I do believe we have the opportunity to see our profession leave the realm of the “ambulance driver” and “You call, we haul” perception and become just as respected as that of our other medical colleagues.  That will only happen however if we take pride in what we do and take this important opportunity to direct the profession upward.  I think we can do that in two ways.  We can affect the greatest change in two areas of EMS, education and administration.  This entry will focus primarily on education.

Education is where we start

We have to instill pride in our EMTs from the beginning because chances are that’s where future administrators and educators will come from.  We have to teach them how to improve the profession through research and academics if we’re ever going to be able to hold our own in the medical world.  We need to teach them how to take pride in developing and honing their skills in patient assessment and treatment.  As we all know, we’re often times seen as just ambulance drivers but we know that’s not the case.  The only way we make the public see that is to be just as good and professional as our ER colleagues and the only way we will do that is through taking pride in our education.

Pursuing Higher Education

We need to raise the bar in EMS education.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with a certificate Medic and I am in no way putting down medics who don’t have degrees, I’m a certificate EMT, but we need to push students to strive for degrees in EMS.  Now, having a BS or MS or PhD doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be a good EMT or medic, but if good EMTs and Medics are encouraged to get degrees then it certainly will not hurt our profession.  There are numerous opportunities for Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Emergency Services and we need students to rise up and strive to be the absolute best in their chosen profession, both academically and practically.

Developing a desire for long-term education

Lastly, we need to understand that education doesn’t stop when you receive your Paramedic certification or license.  You will never know all there is to know and that mentality will hurt us as a profession and you as a provider.  Let’s stop looking at Continuing Education as a necessary evil and start looking at it as an opportunity to enhance our patient care, treatment, and skills.  We have to want to better ourselves individually before we will ever better ourselves as a profession.

EMS is an interesting entity.  We have our foot in the door of the medical community and the public safety sector all at the same time.  That being said, if we want to advance our profession it will take a unique approach and the field is ripe for individuals to research and develop policies and strategies to do just that.

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