When you travel the Internet to further your EMS knowledge, you may encounter an occasional acronym that leaves you scratching your head. What does this mean? What are they talking about? Should I care? What follows are nine top Internet acronyms EMS educators should know, not only to better understand what people are posting but to add to their toolbox of classroom techniques.
1. FAQs—Likely the best known of these Internet acronyms is FAQs, or frequently asked questions. Whether teaching an initial certification class or an in-service or refresher for working providers, it can be helpful to consider up front the questions students will want immediately answered about your topic. This is your chance to answer their questions directly. Get to the bottom line and be specific. This is not the time to elaborate. Supplemental materials or additional education may be appropriate. An additional opportunity to ask live questions is always a great idea, but every student likes it when you can give them a FAQ list with direct answers at the beginning of class.
2. YSK/TIL—You should know and today I learned are similar terms that basically let students know “I’m going to tell you something useful and or cool that you probably weren’t aware of but should be.” The idea of you should know is that the educator has some important knowledge to share about a topic that might otherwise be overlooked. Today I learned emphasizes lifelong learning, helping students understand that even an expert provider and educator gains knowledge every day.
3. LPT—Life pro tip is like the very cream of the crop of YSK/TIL. These are the quick tips and tricks that can leave the student feeling like they’re going to go out there to perform like an EMS champion.
4. ELI5—This acronym stands for explain it like I’m 5. The idea is that a curious 5-year-old is eager to learn but has limited tolerance for long-winded or technical explanations. They want the educator to get quickly to a point that’s immediately useful in the real world.
5. TLDR—Related to FAQs, this acronym stands for too long, didn’t read. Every instructor gets frustrated when students don’t complete assignments or reading before class, and there are certainly times when precourse assignments are critical. However, as adult educators we have to keep in mind that all adults juggle competing priorities, and sometimes life gets in the way. While this should not enable or encourage students to ignore precourse assignments, a TLDR can help them get to the bottom line. Presented at the beginning of a course, it will help even students who didn’t do the reading understand at least enough to participate in class. Presented at the end of class, it focuses students on key takeaway points.
6. AMA—Ask me anything. Whether presented by an individual educator or with a panel of experts, sometimes it’s useful to have a very general topic (or even no topic at all) and let the students just ask questions that interest them. Not only is this empowering to adult learners who feel greater control over their own education, it gives the educators an informal but usually excellent assessment of students’ knowledge gaps. Sometimes you get questions and think, I answered that already—why don’t you remember that? The important thing is that they’re asking the question and seeking knowledge now. You could make them feel bad because they should already know the answer, leaving them sure to never ask a question in class again, or you could answer the question professionally and connect it to the information you presented previously, leaving students feeling you were there to help them and there is important knowledge they may not have realized they had access to.
7. CMV—An excellent tool to encourage critical thinking, this acronym, for change my view, is intended to spark debate. A statement is made, usually a provocative one, and students are challenged to contradict it. The key to using this as an effective teaching tool is to ensure it doesn’t devolve into an argument. Maintain a professional debate with respectful disagreements. Most important, keep points based on facts, preferably supported by relevant research, rather than opinions. For example, “Epinephrine should no longer be a routinely administered medication in cardiac arrest—change my view.”
8. IMO/AFAIK—In my opinion/as far as I know. It is important for educators to model behaviors of effective lifelong learning. One of these is to acknowledge the limits of one’s own understanding and when what is being said is an opinion rather than supported by relevant and robust research. These acronyms also present an opportunity to point out the current limits of research on a topic, as well as currently relevant questions being explored. Students become much more motivated as lifelong learners when they understand our textbooks and educator brains are not simply presenting a list of unalterable facts to be memorized. It can make for an uncomfortable discussion, but students, especially advanced ones, should be told that much of our current clinical practice is based on expert opinion, educated guesses, and research with significant limitations. The list of EMS topics for which research has definitively provided the best answer with no room left for discussion is an extremely short one.
9. ICYMI—In case you missed it. This acronym reminds us that the textbooks, slide decks, and lesson plans are not the be-all and end-all of EMS education. Timely topics “ripped from the headlines” are a great place to spark discussion, especially to connect topics and concepts that may seem abstract with real-world events. For example, no one would call lessons in infection control the sexiest topic in the EMS catalog, but when infectious diseases are in the headlines, it makes learning the correct way to wash your hands feel a lot more important.
I hope you found this list relevant and helpful. Do you know of others? What ideas do you have to use them in the classroom? Let us know in the comments below!
Rommie L. Duckworth, LP, is a dedicated emergency responder and award-winning educator with more than 25 years working in career and volunteer fire departments, hospital healthcare systems, and public and private emergency medical services. He is currently a career fire captain and paramedic EMS coordinator.