Books to achieve my paramedic dream

Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, teaches readers to "begin with the end in mind." If you know where you want to go and who you want to be, you will take steps that keep you on that path. Timothy Clemans, a student in Seattle, wants to become a paramedic for the prestigious South King County Medic One program. Timothy and I frequently discuss his goal and the steps that he is taking to achieve it. Timothy is doing lots of reading to help achieve his goal. I asked Timothy to share the books he is reading and why. Timothy’s response, in two parts, describes four books he has found most helpful as well as several other books and blogs he has found helpful. Timothy writes:

A dream of mine is to become a paramedic with South King County Medic One, the sole 911 ALS provider for the south end of the Seattle region. Medic One is operated by the county’s public health department and enjoys a position as one of the world’s leading EMS services. Benefits for Medic One paramedics include ALS-only transports, a $75,000+ base salary, respect by a majority of emergency physicians, firefighters, and the general public, luxury on-the-job housing, and extensive medical freedom. In order to be a successful candidate with Medic One, a candidate must demonstrate being dedicated to prehospital emergency medicine as well as excellent public speaking, interpersonal relationships, leadership, teamwork, reading, writing, and math skills.

To get me started on the road to successfully achieving the high standards of a Medic One candidate, I’ve read a number of books. I will discuss "The Aspiring Firefighter's 2 Year Plan" and "Smoke Your Firefighter Interview" in part one. In part two, I will describe "People Care" and "What Smart Students Know."

The Aspiring Firefighter's 2 Year Plan: The Complete Road Map to Becoming a Firefighter by Paul S. Lepore

Although Medic One paramedics are not firefighters, the agency functions very close to that of the fire service. The agency looks for primarily the same things as any fire department, with the replacement of firefighting qualifications with prehospital emergency medicine qualifications. "The Aspiring Firefighter's 2 Year Plan" goes over the job of a firefighter, the highly competitive hiring process, and how to be successful after initial employment. In addition, the book discusses paramedic training and the pros and cons of becoming a paramedic.

For me, the book has been essential. Without reading it, I would be completely clueless about what every successful firefighter goes through, let alone what a Medic One paramedic goes through. Learning from "The Aspiring Firefighter's 2 Year Plan" has already impacted my life by teaching me that I need to continue to mature as an individual, always act as a true professional, get actively involved in EMS, get educated, and above all NEVER GIVE UP on chasing my dream.

Additional must-read book: Becoming a Firefighter: The Complete Guide to Your Badge! by Bob Smith

Smoke Your Firefighter Interview: Strengthening Your Approach to the Fire Department Interview by Paul S. Lepore

The job of a paramedic demands rapid decision making. Patients under your care may die if you cannot solve a critical problem in a short period of time. If you don't know how to think critically in any situation, either learn how to do it or go find another dream.

Medic One interviews, called oral boards, test a candidate's ability to come up with problem-solving approaches and solutions to no-win or hard-to-win situations covering moral, legal, ethical, societal, interpersonal, and medical dilemmas. "Smoke Your Firefighter Interview" features real interview questions, sample candidate responses, and explanations of the questions and responses. Additionally, the book covers how interviewers assess a candidate’s dedication, commitment, compassion, desire, honesty, and loyalty. "Smoke Your Firefighter Interview" is an essential starting point for understanding what will be thrown at you during an interview. You will need to refer back to "The Aspiring Firefighter's 2 Year Plan" — particularly "The Chief’s Interview" on page 87 — to get a solid grasp of how the interview process is used by employers.

Because you can't simply memorize interview question responses, you need to be able to think critically. A great down-to-earth book on the fundamentals of critical thinking is "The Re-Discovery of Common Sense: A Guide to the Lost Art of Critical Thinking" by Chuck W. Clayton. For a more involved study of critical thinking, I recommend "The Heart of Mathematics: an Invitation to Effective Thinking" by Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird. I’m also learning about what it takes to become an expert in anything by slowly working through "The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance."

Additional must-have resource: University of Washington School of Medicine Admissions presentation on being successful in an interview

Find out more from Timothy on his preparation to be a great Medic One paramedic in part two.

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