Pinnacle Conference Quick Take: How EMS leaders can 'get home' from the tornadoes of change

Leaders at Pinnacle conference used the "Wizard of Oz" to discuss greater challenges EMS personnel face


SAN ANTONIO ― Jay Fitch, Ph.D., using the "Wizard of Oz" and the Yellow Brick Road as a metaphor described the disruptive challenges, or tornadoes EMS leaders are facing in the United States.  

Tornado-force changes in our profession are all around us. The "Wizard of Oz" touches a chord in each of us because of the brain, heart and courage issues explored in the movies and obviously apparent in most EMS organizations.

Fitch led EMS leaders at the Pinnacle EMS conference on the journey to Oz and back again to explore emerging leadership issues. The entertaining and engaging presentation drew insightful parallels between Dorothy's fictional journey and the very real challenges facing EMS leaders.

Memorable quotes
The "Wizard of Oz" is one of Fitch's favorite movies and he shared many quotes directly from the movie that resonate with today's leadership challenges. In addition, here are five more memorable quotes from Fitch.

"To be our best as an EMS leader we need to use our heads, hearts and course to find a better place ― home ― for our organizations"

"The future of medicine and primary care is already here. If you don't believe it walk into a CVS where care is already happening."

"At the start of every patient interaction an agency asked its caregivers to explain 'who you are, what you are about to do and share a heartfelt description of why' to improve patient and caregiver satisfaction."

"We should never be using the word 'employee.' Words matter, we are caregivers."

"Leaders who feel most comfortable in their own skin do the best at caring for and leading others."

Key Takeaways on getting home on the Yellow Brick Road
The Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Dorothy and the Wizard each have a unique set of challenges. Fitch explained how those character's challenges translate to the journey EMS is on to get home.

  • Intellectual challenges: Fitch described the significant delivery model disruption that is underway in EMS, payment shift uncertainty and the need to better use of data. Moving through the disruption storm, or weathering the Scarecrow's brain issues, requires transforming clinical documentation, improving financial acumen and revenue collection and applying the wisdom that might come from the data EMS agencies are collecting.
  • Heart challenges: The Tinman's heart challenges, illustrated through several case studies, were passion, customer care, workforce care and equity issues. Implementing solutions to the intellectual challenges requires heart to inspire. Fitch suggested that at the end of each work day EMS leaders ask, "How many people have I inspired today?"
  • Courage challenges: The normal human response to fear or worry is to hunker down like the Lion and play it safe, but playing it safe never leads to greatness. Fitch described how a lack of courage makes EMS leaders afraid to make decisions and create change. "Courage is not easy when you are about to be eaten," Fitch said. Leaders need to be courageous to stay true to their mission and values.

Finally, to get home from Oz, EMS leaders need to have clarity on their mission and create change by decreasing lives lost, reducing pain and suffering, reducing expenses from catastrophic illness, engaging the community, growing people and increasing safety for caregivers.

Read more about EMS leadership from Fitch & Associates consultants.

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