In the November issue, we discussed appropriate field training for new hires. This month we review best practices for teaching the EMT student.
The responsibility to train our future coworkers is a big one. These people may be administering RSI medications to facilitate an intubation you will be performing, or they may be driving your ambulance while you’re attending to a patient in the back. An even scarier thought is they may be treating you one day!
Look at the knowledge of the future EMT or paramedic as a snowball. Each generation should have slightly more snow than the last. But this snowball effect can only work if we all do our part to bring up the next wave of wide-eyed, eager-to-learn EMTs and paramedics. What this means is that it is important to provide criticism in the right manner. We must teach without demotivating the future of our great profession.
Make a Good Impression
A young and very nervous EMT student wakes up on the morning of his first ride-along. He puts on his spiffy uniform while thinking about the smock his instructor told him he used to wear when he was a student. “Thank goodness I don’t have to wear that thing,” the student thinks. He zips up his boots, grabs his stethoscope, penlight and trauma shears, and is on his way. He is on track to be 30 minutes early because he was told if you’re early, you’re on time.
He shows up to the station only to find a locked door. He knocks and waits patiently. The door swings open and a grumpy medic and sleepy EMT greet him. “Just sit down until our relief gets here,” they tell him.
Unfortunately, the crew that shows up is even less enthusiastic about the presence of this future EMT. “Great, we have to baby-sit today?” they ask. The student then tags along for the next 12 hours. He sees things he has never seen before, but he is far too scared to ask any questions. He would love to help, but doesn’t want to get in the way. He has essentially become an ignored inconvenience.
The student has his papers signed at the end of the shift and heads home, learning no more than he could have from an old episode of Rescue 911. He was cheated out of 12 hours of quality education, and he now has his first impression of EMS.
Do you remember your first experience in the world that is prehospital emergency medicine? Do you remember showing up at the station for your very first ride-along, nervous and naive? Your first impression of this job, which you intended to make your career, was put in the hands of the crew who greeted you that day.
Students can be like sponges, soaking up every bit of knowledge. It is our job to provide that knowledge. If there was ever a time to give 100%, it is when you have a student rider. As mentors to these disciples, we can teach things we consider are of the utmost importance, and we only have ourselves to blame if they end up lacking these values. Many may look at a student as more work for the same pay. Imagine if you were looked at that way. If you were, wasn’t it awful? Let’s keep the snowball growing. Think about what you have to offer these eager minds.
Create an Appreciated Experience
Teaching while at work does not have to be stressful. There is a multitude of things you can do, which may seem effortless to you, yet are valuable to the novice rider. There are a few simple techniques that may help you create a truly appreciated experience for your next observer.
First, create a comfortable learning environment. This is not the military, and while discipline is important, keep chastising to a minimum. Greet them like a peer, and show them around the station. Introduce them to anyone they may frequently come in contact with. If you make the pupil feel like more of an equal, he or she will be more willing to help out whenever possible.
Avoid patronizing young students. If you treat them like children, they may act like children. Each student’s personality and level of sensitivity will be different. Keep this in mind during moments of feedback. It is important to figure out what will work with each type of personality, and what should be avoided.