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Taking ownership

One of the struggles that I have as an EMS educator and as a practitioner is laziness. That is, too many people in the medical field want to take the easy way out. They want to do the minimum that will not get them fired or sued, and then move on to the next task.

I have seen incompetent doctors, paramedics, nurses, and other supposed professionals do what is in their own best interest, and not what is in the patient’s best interest. In many cases, that means blindly following some algorithm or procedure, without applying even the smallest bit of thought to what is actually going on with the patient.

As an educator, I even see this all of the time. Paramedic students who are being asked to learn the underlying physiology and mechanisms of a patient, to better treat and help that patient, frequently complain that the class is too hard. They just want to learn protocol. They want to practice cookbook medicine.

I teach paramedic classes at a two year, private college. As a part of ongoing QI, the school looks at a list of data. They look at the passing rates of graduates taking state board exams, the completion rates of the students taking the courses, and they also do a quarterly opinion poll where the students get to rate the instructors. There are four instructors who work in the paramedic education department.

In this poll, the students complained that two of the instructors simply read the power points to them. I always hated that as a student, and I have always tried to avoid that. I really believe that the instructors who teach that way are doing so because they are not familiar with the material.

The complaints in the poll about my class were that it was too difficult, that they only want to learn: “if you see symptom A, give drug Y” and not have to learn anything about the underlying processes. I was told by the department head that I have to “dumb down” my classes, so that the poll numbers look better. It looks like I will have to teach cookbook medicine from now on.

I am ready to go back to the clinical environment. I have been teaching for eight years, and retired from paramedicine for 9 months. I am ready to get out of academia.I don’t want to create technicians, I want to create professionals. It looks like I am trying to deliver a product that no one wants.

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