A Caring Profession

A Caring Profession

By Nancy Perry Sep 12, 2012

In 2005 EMS World published People Care by Thom Dick & Friends. The book was designed to teach something not addressed by EMS curricula: how to take care of people.

We are pleased to announce that the second edition of People Care is now available. I recently sat down with author and EMS World columnist Thom Dick to discuss the newly revised book.

EMS World: What led you to write People Care?
Thom: I was lucky to find myself surrounded throughout my career by caregivers of incomparable talent. Found myself, too, saddled with students (and colleagues) who were bright medically, but who didn’t like people. If you don’t naturally like people, they’ll find plenty of ways to make you hate being an EMT. If you find it easy to like them, that’s a gift, and it makes you special. You could love doing what we do.

What is the most valuable addition to the 2nd edition?
Its emphasis on the importance of sick people’s fear. Also on kindness and gentleness as a caregiver’s most essential therapeutic tools. These things may not appear in our texts, but our practice is reduced to an endurance of monotony if we don’t understand them.

What message would you like readers to take away from People Care?
That not just anybody can do this. Good people walk away from it every day, shrugging. But if you have the heart for it—and the talent—it can seem like the most sensible thing you could ever want to do with your life.

How can reading People Care improve your performance as an EMS provider?
I don’t think sick people should have to be patient about anything we can fix. And they don’t care how much we know unless they know how much we care. People Care is a professional mind-set that helps us communicate our compassion and our competence to people in crisis who’ve never met us.

With an EMS career spanning 40+ years, what is the one thing you would want newbies to know coming into the profession?
Humble yourself. Learn from those around you, both from their achievements and their mistakes. Lower yourself. Open your mind and heart to what sick people are trying to tell you. No one else would be welcome to experience the worst moments of all of those lives. You’re personally invited. And day after day, you’re reminded, over and over. You’re so lucky. So lucky.

People Care is now available for $17.95 plus S&H. To order your copy, visit xxx

Excerpt: Foreword to People Care
As an EMT, paramedic, emergency nurse, physician or other emergency healthcare provider, chances are you can smell someone who is not genuine from a block away. It’s not surprising that you’ve developed a finely honed BS detector—you get lied to for a living. The author of this book, Thom Dick, is the most “real” person I’ve ever met, inside or outside this profession.

I met him on the page before I met him in person. I’m lucky he was willing to take me on and be my mentor in the early 1980s. I’ve learned enough from him over the years to fill several terabytes of disk space. Not a day goes by that something he’s taught me does not come alive in my clinical care, teaching or leadership practices.

Sportswriter Walter “Red” Smith once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” Well, after staying up all night reading, it’s clear to me that Thom opened an artery for you. This is as raw, personal and powerful as anything you’ll ever read on caring for others. For the sake of the vulnerable people under your care, I hope you take People Care’s lessons to heart. —Mike Taigman, EMS consultant

Nancy Perry is the editorial director for EMS World.

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