How to overcome your own self-doubt as an EMT, paramedic, student or leader

Updated April 19, 2016

A paramedic student said to me, "You do this IV because I am going to miss."

I replied, "You are right that you will miss, but if you did succeed, how would you do it?"

A co-worker said to me, "Our service could never afford a power-assisted patient cot."

I agreed, "You are right. There is no chance our service could afford a power lift cot, but if you wanted to, how would you convince management to make the purchase?"

A recent EMT graduate confided, "I have failed registry twice. Why should I bother taking it again just to fail again?"

I affirmed his assessment by saying, "I could not agree more. You are not smart enough to pass the NREMT exam. But if you were smart enough, how would you succeed the next time?"

Our own self-doubt is our greatest barrier to success. Tim Pflieger, president and owner of the Team Leadership Center, as well as a firefighter and EMT, taught me to respond to my team members' self-doubt by replying, "You are right you can’t do it, but if you could do it, how would you?"

How can you overcome the barriers you construct to your own success? How can I help?

About the author

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is Editor-in-Chief of He is an educator, author, paramedic, and marathon runner. Ask questions or submit tip ideas to Greg by e-mailing him at

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