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Passion: Is it required to teach EMS?

We can add “passionate” into our wish list in EMS educators, but can we demand it? Can we measure it?

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“While some may find it more intrinsically than others, there are some foundations for passion in EMS education,” Limmer writes.

Photo/Willamette University

This article was originally posted at Limmer Education and is reprinted with permission.

By Dan Limmer

In a recent blog post, Limmer’s Laws of EMS Education, I received many great responses. I knew one of the laws would get some comments – and I wasn’t disappointed. It was the “law” about passion:

Passion for EMS, education and your students isn’t required.

When passion is present, everyone, including the educator, thrives.

Several people asked if it was a typo that passion isn’t required. To be fair, our staff here asked the same thing as they created the graphic. Never one to shy away from a contrary stand, I put it out there: I don’t think passion is required for an educator. I believe things are better when passionately delivered. But it isn’t required.

What is the real value of passion in EMS education?

Let’s start with a job description for an EMS educator. We can add “passionate” into our list of desires. But can we demand it? Can we measure it? Should we value it over other educator qualities?

In EMS, I would value consistency equal to – or perhaps more than – passion. I’ve met a lot of educators with passion, and the attention span of a mosquito (or was that me?). Students respond to and benefit from an educator who teaches with enthusiasm; however, all that can be lost if the course is poorly coordinated, organized and communicated.

Successful EMS education ultimately requires the work of both the left and right cerebral hemispheres.

If we consider how we get instructors, we find that some charge in following their passion. Others are injured and move into education. Others look to escape the street before they time out altogether. Some simply stumble in. Not all stay. I will say that passion may help longevity.

Passion may also ebb and flow with the best of educators. Years in the classroom, grueling classroom schedules, and student apathy can be a drain – all creating a significant drain on passion.

And speaking of student apathy, it is certainly nicer to be an educator when students have passion. It lights up the room and encourages us to bring our best game every day.

We can’t look at passion as some sort of magic spell or potion that we somehow get. Developing and maintaining it is work – an active process. While some may find it more intrinsically than others, there are some foundations for passion in EMS education. If I were to predict the ingredients of that magic potion, I would include a love for EMS itself, a recognition of the importance of an educator’s role in creating the next generation of EMS providers, and confidence in front of the classroom. People who aren’t confident aren’t comfortable. People who don’t consider those concepts core to their values don’t last. I believe these are the foundations of passion in EMS education.

What’s required to be an EMS educator?

If passion isn’t a requirement of an EMS educator, what is?

  • Knowledge of educational philosophies and delivery methods
  • Organizational skills
  • Mastery of cognitive and psychomotor content
  • Identifying student issues. Then an ability to counsel and remediate the problems.
  • A degree

What do we value but find it challenging to measure?

  • Passion
  • Commitment
  • Personality
  • Connection

So no, I don’t believe passion is required in an educator. It is too much of a moving target. But when it is present, everyone knows. Everyone feels it.

I recently left my EMT classroom and felt that I had taught something that day – I connected with my students, felt energized, and realized why I was there. After 40 years of EMS education, I’ve still got the passion.


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