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In past years we have created lists of roughly five wishes for EMS education. This year we will only have two—but the fabric of these two wishes is woven into almost everything we do. The two things:

  1. Resist black and white thinking.
  2. Be nice.

Open-mindedness appears to be moving quickly to lost art status. Conversations on social media range from inane to angry; often polarized around two sides of an issue when compassion and thought would help us find a solution in the middle.

Clinically we argue about whether to give oxygen or not, or to immobilize the spine or not, when the actual answers to these and other questions have a fluidity in science and practice that is open to interpretation. Physicians can discuss two widely varied practices for the same condition with the intent of learning. We see this as an opportunity to prove our superiority or bring another down to bolster fragile egos. There is very rarely a black and white answer to a clinical question—and much to be learned by a respectful discussion.

Building on our two wishes, we will list some actions you can take in 2017 to make yourself and EMS better. Here they are:

Listen carefully to someone else’s opinion.

It may be in person during that rare downtime between calls or on social media. Really listen and think about what the other person says. Then make a comment that you would be proud to raise your hand and make out loud if you were sitting in a clinical session at a national conference. One which makes you appear as a thoughtful professional.

Help someone up when they are down.

We talk about the increase in suicide and stress – do something about it. Listen, check on a colleague, buy a coffee. Do it now. A small effort can make a big difference. This concept gets posted on Facebook and brought up at the wakes of people who needed a hand, when it’s too late. Make the effort while there’s still time.

In the clinical realm, leave the black and white behind.

Listen to others and if you haven’t recently, read a research paper or two. Recognize that the practice of medicine is about 90% thought and 10% skills. With numbers like that, there can be a lot of ways to get to a good conclusion—and they might not all match yours. Things aren’t black and white; they are multiple shades of grey. Recognizing this is the key to becoming a clinician.

Learn pathophysiology.

You didn’t think we would let a year go by without including this, did you? It helps increase understanding and provides a foundation for a thought-based practice. In our products, we are seeing poor results on relatively simple pathophysiology.

And Finally…

EMS improving itself from the inside out will be much more successful than waiting for the profession fairy to wave her magical wand to provide the pay and status we so strongly desire.

We’ll admit to being a bit idealistic this year. We’re disturbed by the conversations we see, by the people needing help who are left in the cold and by the high potential of EMS squandered away by bad attitudes and short-sightedness.

Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter. (author unknown) Our best to you for a peaceful, safe and productive 2017.

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