Trau·ma  Junk· ie  ( 'trau-m&  'j&[ng]-kE) n. Slang
  1. One who has an insatiable interest, devotion or addiction to responding and assisting people with serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident.

Stand for the Change You'd Like to See

As we steadily move into the new year and a new decade, we've already seen many changes in the face of medicine. But the changes that are to come, the ones we as providers control, are the changes that will be most defining for our profession.

Keep in mind that I'm both an EMT student and a respiratory student, so this post may be geared toward one profession or the other at times, but in a nutshell-- it's all health care, and here is my small contribution.

What can we do to bring about change? There are several things:

Be a diagnostician, not a technician
In RT school, one of my favorite instructors of all time often told us that we should think like therapists, not technicians. In EMT school, I have learned that BLS skills are crucial, but aside from Basic assessment, decision-making skills are key.

We like to follow a simple model for patient care in both professions: Assessment -> Decision Making/Critical thinking -> Intervention -> Follow-up. Often times, this is overlooked in practice. So many providers are used to doing a very focused assessment based on the complaints the patient presents and immediately moving to the protocol/standing orders or phoning the physician for advice with their initial (and very simple) findings. Following this, a decision is often made for treatment hastily and without regard to other possible causes.

It is important for both RTs and EMS providers to remember that while we aren't physicians, we are taught this process for a reason. Many of us would like more autonomy and a larger part in the overall care of our patients, but in order to do so, we must act and think critically, not as if we are working out of a cookbook or basing everything we do off of an algorithm.

I can't speak on behalf of EMTs yet, but I know in recent years that respiratory therapists have made a move toward being a more crucial part of the team. Professional organizations (the AARC, NBRC, etc.) are working for us as professionals, but it is our duty to show everyone what we are truly capable of doing.

Don't settle for being a neb jockey or a button pusher. If something doesn't seem right, question it in a professional manner. Be prepared to offer an alternative method or treatment to the physician, but also be prepared to defend your case with proven research, which brings me to my next point.

Never stop learning
As either an EMT, Paramedic, or Respiratory Therapist, we have an obligation to our patients to never stop learning. Every day, new modalities, new drugs, and new equipment are in the making. You may have went through the toughest program in the United States, graduated with flying colors, and passed your boards the first time around, but it doesn't stop there. Trust me.

I'm not talking about just meeting the required number of CEU's that you need to renew your license or certification. I'm talking about taking an active role in educating yourself for the benefit of your patients, as well as being able to share this knowledge with your co-workers.

As well all know, the internet is an amazing thing. Use it as a tool to learn about current trends
so that you can be the best provider you can be. Stay-up-to date on your knowledge and skills. This will take you a long way, and eventually, you will be able to make great strides in your field.

But also, remember to stay humble. Some of the best advice can't be found in a research article, a textbook, or a policy manual. This is why we must...

Never stop listening
You are never too good at what you do, nor will you ever have seen and done so much, that taking a moment to listen to another, more experienced (or even less experienced) co-worker's stories or advice will ever be beyond you. It is safe to say that we have all experienced moments in our careers that we haven't known how to react to a situation. Emotional situations often come to mind.

Again, absorb it all. Listen to your partner's story about a rough call he had, and listen from an outside perspective. Often times, the best providers have an even better colleague that they look up to.

Social media is wonderful. Twitter, podcasts and blogging can easily revolutionize medicine as we know it. Read and listen to all that you can. (That's another post for another time, I promise.)

And last but not least?

Be the change you want to see
Everyone has their own ideas for how we can reform the health professions. We're all individuals, and while we see eye-t0-eye on the issues that require change, we may envision going about these changes different-- and that is completely fine.

Your job is to be the change that you want to see. Go about this change how you want to go about it. Bounce your ideas off of your fellow health care workers, your supervisors, and others in the medical community. One person can make a difference, but all in all, many people are required to enact a change.

Support your own efforts and the efforts of others. In 2010, and in years to come, we can improve health care.

Are you in?

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