Friday, January 8, 2010

A Word About Paramedic School

So I am about a quarter of my way through a one year intensive paramedic program. Most days I am pretty in love with it. I spent one year studying Marine Transportation Operations, two years studying Nursing and another three getting my bachelor's degree in Biology. I know school. My ultimate goal is to become a PA and to work in women's health. I made a run at PA school about a year ago and was not accepted to any of the schools out here and was not willing to gamble and go to the interview I was offered in Phili as things with the "boy" as he was previously called, were new and good and if I had gone things most likely would not have worked out. The Hubbs is a paramedic and in Phili you must be a resident for at least 2 years before you are even able to apply for anything they deem a "civil service" job. In short he could have come with me but that would have just meant two of us out of jobs and far far away from family. This is not the recipe for success. Anywhoo...I freaked out after realizing that I had heard from all of my top schools and the answer was a resounding no. I did a little homework to figure out why they didn't want me and what I should do about it. Here's the scoop. PA school is a 2 year Master's degree program. It is intensive and they require a great deal of patient care experience prior to even applying. It is the new medical school in essence. For folks who don't want to spend a zillion dollars and a trillion years in school, it is brilliant. Lots of education for less money and less time. A great career and lots of opportunity for change even after school. It covers the gambit from surgery to pediatrics and everything in between. The catch is that it is about as competitive as the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader tryouts, thousands of applicants per school for about 30-50 slots, in the largest programs. Also equally upsetting is that they seem to be accepting people a lot like the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders...they are all the same. That is the bitter bias of someone who did not get in by the way...grain of salt folks. However, it does seem that there are ways to make myself a more desirable applicant and they do not, thankfully, include hair bleach or silver hot pants. I decided that my option of choice for application improvement was paramedicine. PA schools love medics. They are trained to respond to chain of command, think with varying degrees of autonomy and act in all types of situations and environments. It just so happens that I live in a city home to three different medic programs. I was pretty set on making my way through the stupid ass prerequisites for the on closest and cheapest but turns out that was going to require me to take several "fire science" type classes and jump a bunch of other hoops I have no interest in doing or paying for first. I was feeling fairly demoralized when the ever sensible Hubbs directed me to look into the University program. He was a graduate himself and while it was exponentially more expensive than the community college one, it was only a year and it was consistently graduating some of the finest medics in the area. I can say that without any arrogance as I have spent 2.5 years out here working in Emergency Departments all over the metro area and have seen LOTS of medics. Now that I am becoming part of the EMS family, marrying in and otherwise, I am learning who went to school where and I am surprised to find that so many of the best medics came from the U. They are inquisitive, compassionate, intelligent, professional, assertive and have great patient skills. It is not just a handful it is almost across the board. I would almost be willing to bet that if you put 100 of the city medics in front of me I could tell you who went to the U. Anyway, I got in to the program in about 3 seconds. They were happy to have me and I was so ready to have someone be happy to have me. Rejection hurts...that's all I am saying.

The first days of class were a whirlwind of BS and paperwork. After the second week it became clear that they are NOT messing around. The workload is insane. The teachers are mostly wonderful, caring people who really want to see all of us make it through. This brings me to the real reason for this post. We recently had a regime change where a teacher who had been doing this stuff for a LONG time left to take a job as an occupational health RN. It is a fantastic chance for her and I am happy for her good fortune. That said, I am happier for my own good fortune because she was so OVER teaching us that it was becoming painful. She is a well seasoned EMT-P and RN. She was bored with the work of teaching medic students. I can sympathize. It must suck to feel like you are redoing medic school every year for oh, ten years. If you are that kind of person you are bored out of your mind. That is a sign that it is time for you to do something else. I am glad that she will still be part of the lab instructor group because she has an absolute TON of experience from which to teach us. She just sucked at being a full time classroom teacher. She was never there for our guest lecturers, she tested out of random sections of the book that only highlighted the fact that she had been to NONE of the guest speakers' presentations. If you asked her a question and happened to say "this is confusing," she quickly took an argumentative posture and informed you that No, in fact, it was not difficult or confusing, you are looking at it wrong. Blech! That sucks right? So I figured out her games and managed to get my A in both of her classes this fall but I was not looking forward to the goat rodeo involved in doing it again. I was more than a little pleased to discover that two guys who are themselves, recent program graduates, brand new medics and both highly educated Master's and PhD, were going to be taking over the Medical Emergency class and trying to build a better curriculum where we would be learning information in a way so that it could be easily accessed when we get to the field. They explained that they had had many of the same frustrations as us when they were in the program and they wanted to make it better. They are not the most exciting guys to listen to and neither of them know how to stay on schedule but the desire to make things better and the willingness to take the time to make it happen when they both have lives and families, jobs and education going on. They don't owe us anything so everything they do I see as a gift.

Many of my classmates do not see things this way. Today Jamie and Hugh came and gave us the syllabus for the term. This term is notoriously rough. There is the beginning of clinicals on top of an almost full class schedule. It is ten pounds of work in a five pound sack! It sucks. However, Hugh and Jamie did not make this up. They have made some large changes that I believe will make things better for us. The assignments are now presented in a way that corresponds to what we are doing elsewhere and there are clear objectives outlined. It is all spelled out for us. Do the work and you will succeed. My Fratboy-Fire-Medic classmates spent the entirety of today's presentation rolling eyes and making faces like "Oh, geeze, this is such BS". One of them even had the balls to raise his hand and ask why we have to write a paper when "I can learn from reading just as well as I can from typing. What an ASS! I just thought it was so Flippin' rude! I just hate it when people are rude to teachers. It makes us look bad. It makes me feel bad. I know none of the guys acting like babies today would have said anything like that to any of the fire guys who come lecture us. It sucks! I am excited because the work now requires me to think and use my brain in a way that will keep me learning. They are fire wannabes who don't care about the medicine anyway so they are just as happy to NOT use their brain and do BS busy work. It is irritating to say the least. I just think there are too many paramedics in this city. Somewhere someone decided that it was a good idea for firefighters to get their medic cert in order to make them more highly desired on a company. This is Bull Shit people. Pardon my french but it is a horrible idea to tell people who want to put out fires that they should go study medicine so they have a better shot at getting a job putting out fires! It's stupid and it makes it harder for those of us who DO love the medicine and do want to get jobs as paramedics. Why couldn't you tell them to go get degrees in engineering or physics!? This makes far more sense if the bulk of your desired career you will be deciding how to run into burning buildings or cutting people out of horrible traffic accidents. OK, my feet are getting tired on this here soap box....I shall step down now.

Fitness day 22.
I was EXHAUSTED today. I woke up with a nasty headache and 100% lack of motivation. I slept in. I have my gym bag here at work and will be making the trek to the gym on my lunch break. Not my best day but it has been a LONG week so I am letting myself off the hook and just making better eating choices.

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