10 New Year's resolutions for paramedics

Here are 10 resolutions for personal and professional success in the year ahead

By Justin Schorr

Another year has come and gone and you and I are still no closer to solving this mess that is EMS.

I know last year‘s list of resolutions started with: 1. Write a list of stuff to do this year and then trailed off into a list of stuff missing from the rig after B-Watch left early without restocking again. But this year will be different!


Here are 10 resolutions that will set you on the right course for the new year:

1. Cut the B-Watch some slack.
No, I take that back, screw the B-watch! It‘s about time someone actually stands up for standards around your rig and that starts with you. Don‘t just take personal responsibility, live it to the point that those around you feel guilty not trying at least 1 percent as much as you do. It may not seem like a lot, but it‘s better than nothing. You‘ll also be amazed to find that someone will be more upset if you are disappointed in them than mad at them.

2. Get on a written budget.

resolutions for a paramedic. get on a budget

"Will you and Motorcop shut up about the budget thing already?"

No. Not until you see on paper that you don‘t have to work 40 hours of overtime to make ends meet this month. You‘ve simply placed your ends too far apart. Don‘t go nuts and start selling everything you have; just take an honest look at your situation. You are your own patient. Do an assessment and intervene as indicated. Seems straight forward enough, right?

3. Don‘t just meet the minimum recertification standard this time around. Exceed it!
But don‘t just do it with a few extra online quizzes from a magazine. Get out of your comfort zone and attend a local conference offering CE. Go to the local trauma center or teaching hospital and ask the nursing staff for a list of their upcoming CEs. Not only will you have more hours than you need to refresh, you might actually learn something and get a nod from that nurse who usually screams at you for being a knuckle-dragging EMT. Try the EMS1 Academy.

4. Put in a little effort in the uniform department.
You don‘t need dress blues to look the part in EMS, you just have to try. Yes, I was in the department that made us wear BDUs and a fading polo shirt, but damn it if I didn‘t make that look gooooood. Wash your gear, iron your pants, polish your boots, and for goodness sakes limit the baseball cap time. Just a little bit of effort can go a long way when discussing things with patients and hospital staff. And you always feel more confident when you look good. Try it.

5. Cut the cops some slack.
They can‘t help it. They don't know that intoxication and disrespect are not medical conditions. Sure they call all the time for folks who don‘t need an ambulance, let alone a hospital, but let‘s also keep in mind that if they have to take that person in on the charges they face, who will clear the scene at the next run? Let the boys and girls in blue do their thing and call us out when they think someone is sick. We'll just be sure to call them out code 3 every time we think someone is about to shoplift, then leave them to handle the paperwork. It‘s only fair. Be nice.

6. Stop being so nice.

There is a fine line between telling the truth and lying. OK, maybe not, but the trick is in the delivery. If you come at me quiet, shy and afraid that a complaint from me is going to land you in the captain‘s office before the end of watch, I need you to grow a pair. A pair of what is up to you — just do it. Stand tall when in the right. Never raise your voice, but speak clearly and with purpose. Make people look you in the eye. If a patient swears, tell them not to. Don‘t get angry, get confident.

7. Take the promotional exam.
I don‘t care if your agency “never hires anyone based on merit, it‘s just all the boss‘s friends and guys about to retire.” Maybe it is that way because you haven‘t broken the mold yet. Spread your wings and try to fly, little bird. Who knows, at the very worst you‘ll spend a few weeks with your nose buried in a book or two and actually learn something. Best case scenario: you can experience a whole new level of EMS shenanigans.

8. Submit an article for publication.
Seems simple enough and it really is. My first article started as an email to a friend about a funny way to score IV stick difficulty. He said I should submit it, so I went to the magazine‘s website, got the publisher‘s email and sent it to them with a few sentences about me and a “for your consideration.” They ran it.

Since then I have used any opportunity to meet publishers at shows and then follow up with them with article ideas. They want new content from new authors! If you don‘t like what you‘re reading, try writing it yourself. Contact the editor to submit an article idea.

9. Reach out to those in need.
Not your patients, your co-workers. Every week I‘m reading about one of our brothers or sisters taking their own lives in response to our line of work. The warning signs were there — some saw and tried to help. Be one of the ones who tries to reach out. Offer help, offer a shoulder, a run, a workout buddy, a quick visit, whatever it takes to SHOW them, not just TELL them, you have their back. Contact the Code Green Campaign to find out more.

And finally for a successful new year ...

10. Stop complaining.
Year after year I seemed to find something to complain about in EMS, but luckily I started paying attention and got wise to how this whole thing works. I developed a work ethic, sought out better education, got promoted, got on a budget and got published. I‘d tell you more, but...spoilers!

Get out there next year and as I always say, “Break some hearts and save some lives!”

Happy New Year everyone!

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