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Five Questions With: Natalie Zink on EMS World Spring and Finding Your 'Passion Project'

Natalie L. Zink, BS, NRP, received a bachelor’s degree in biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience from the University of Michigan in December 2015 before beginning paramedic school in January. She has been working the road in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Atlanta, Ga., for the past four years in an array of EMS capacities: She has taught CPR, served on the county Critical Incident Stress Management team, and worked extensively in community outreach.

In her non-ambulance life, she has worked as a wellness coordinator for Cottrell Inc., assisting its 1,200 manufacturing employees in managing their benefits, overseeing a free clinic for staff and their families, and promoting health education. Currently, Natalie is continuing her education at the Medical College of Georgia to become a physician who advocates for EMS, and maintains her "Wonder Woman enthusiasm."

EMS World: How does your professional experience and background align with the mission of EMS World Spring? What will you be covering?

Zink: I have been in EMS for five years working as a paramedic in metro Detroit for Huron Valley Ambulance and in Atlanta for Grady EMS. Now I am a first-year medical student at Medical College of Georgia. I am passionate about EMS education and advocacy. I will be covering gynecological prehospital emergencies. I will discuss contraception and the various side effects and drug interactions, post-abortion care, and other gynecological emergencies. I particularly discuss the irony of gynecological care being put into "special populations," despite the fact that it includes literally 50% of the population.

Why do you think it’s important for EMS professionals to attend EMS World Spring? What valuable industry knowledge can they gain from attending? Are there perks to networking, earning CE credit, etc.?

I think any sort of diverse and engaging educational content is positive for EMS providers. It’s important to treat our paramedics as professionals and colleagues so they take pride in their development. If we treat conferences like networking opportunities and chances for mentorship, we can get a strong response.

In your view, is there a specific importance to this year’s event given the COVID-19 crisis? Is there a timeliness and relevance in uniting the EMS community this year?

Absolutely. This is a chance in history for us to really bind together and stand up for our field to better advocate for positive policy change to support us. Instead of reinventing the wheel at every agency, we have to work hard to foster collaborative efforts and centralized leadership, now more than ever. I’ve enjoyed the connections and the international platform EMS World allows. I believe in the mission of reaching out to providers at their level and bringing them up.

After a year of virtual meetings, some people understandably might have “Zoom fatigue”—Why should people still participate in this educational program and how is it different?

We are all in a different headspace now. There’s more humanity, more understanding, more joy. I think the casual nature will be beneficial for fostering a strong learning environment. Let’s grab a coffee and talk about medicine!

Can you tell us a bit about any projects or future initiatives you are working on?

I am currently working on an initiative with the National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) to encourage more engagement from students and trainees and to increase physician involvement and excitement in EMS. I’m also helping create a naloxone training curriculum for my medical student classmates at Medical College of Georgia. Otherwise, my main focus is on my medical education right now. There is always a passion project you can be working on!

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