Things I’ve learned so far

1. Your partner can make or break your day. Especially true for EMTs, but also true for life in general, I suspect.  The other day I had some less than enthusiastic partners who complained about every call. Those 8 hours dragged on longer than my first 2 days combined. The sad thing is, both people are in further training for careers in service. Great partners are the ones who like to teach, tell stories, laugh, but work hard to help each patient.

2. I am braver than I thought. Maybe it was touching a dead person that finally did it, but when my cat brought a live mouse inside tonight I did not shriek and jump up on the couch like I usually do.  I laughed, shook my head,  caught it underneath a trash can, and scooted him gently into the garage… where I promptly locked my cat to “finish the job.” For me, that’s pretty bad-ass.

3. I shouldn’t tell my friends stories from work. Most people are in awe of/shocked by my job. When I meet new people or talk about my job to my friends now, a lot of people seem to physically draw away from me with this look on their face I can’t quite describe.  It might be a mixture of respect and disgust. I am already starting to understand what my teachers told me: no one will understand you except other medical professionals.  I’m very grateful I started this blog, so that I’ll have a place to talk about work without grossing my friends out (unless they read this blog, which they should!).

4. Nursing homes are either really sad or really swanky. There’s no in between.  Either the facility has the best resources, well-trained staff, and beautiful spaces, or they don’t.  And when they don’t, you grit your teeth, try not to inhale the stench too much, and make your patient as comfortable as possible. The swanky places are nicer than most hospitals, and the staff knows their patients’ entire medical histories and personalities by heart.  Start saving up for one of these places now–they look expensive.  (I should mention that I haven’t been to a VA hospital yet, and I hear those can be the worst of the worst.)

5. Staying healthy in this job will be a challenge. I might have to invest in a gym membership because being an EMT involves sitting for long stretches in the truck and at the base, and then needing to run and lift heavy things (people).  The food on the road is pretty crappy. I think EMS & police alone could keep Dunkin Donuts in business. Many in EMS are overweight from this combination of circumstances, and I want to avoid that fate. I’m a vegetarian and I can’t have caffeine, so that complicates dining options. I’ve discovered that the Mass General cafeteria is my best bet for healthy food. They have a salad bar, deli, grill, and pizza.  I got my “box of spinach” the other day, and I felt very proud of myself.

What about you? What have you learned from your job? Any advice to offer? Let’s get those comments rolling!

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4 thoughts on “Things I’ve learned so far

  1. Sounds like things are going fairly well for you so far. It’s always heartening to find out that you are stronger than you realized. I suspect that you will be successful at just about anything that you tackle. You tend to approach things differently than most people your age. You are truly interested in learning for the sake of learning and not choosing a career path based on how much money you will make. So many people make this mistake and then end up hating thier jobs. I’ll be rooting for you and waiting anxiously for your next update!

  2. I definitely think that it’s true that no one else will understand work stories like other professionals in your field. I have also learned that it’s OK, even healthy to say “no.” Whether it is to clients, co-workers, supervisors and sometimes even friends. It is extremely important to set limits. Keep my work life separate from my personal life. Otherwise L end up burning yourself out. I have also learned that you can’t save everyone.
    That’s all I can think of for now.

  3. Thanks, Maureen! Let me tell you, that tiny paycheck is terrifying, but so far I love the job. I often feel like I am the odd duck out, still searching for my bliss in my late 20s. Thanks for your support!

  4. Readers, it helps to know that Yael works in mental health (and is a wonderful counselor to her friends, as well), and is often a person I go to for perspective in this field. I hope to convince her to write something for this blog some time soon!!!

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