Chris Foote, MSII University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) [email protected] Anesthesiology Interest Group Shadowing Officer
As medical students, we are shown a wide array of medical fields and we learn how all of those groups of individuals work together as a family within the hospital. Our strengths as clinicians emerge and we find ourselves sitting in with certain specialties. If you’re reading this, you probably have already felt akin to anesthesiology and the operating room. Despite extensive experiences during rotations, shadowing and volunteer clinic trips, many medical students can still be fairly unfamiliar with one type of medical professional that shares so much with the field of anesthesiology, “the medic.”
I worked many years in EMS before donning the short white lab coat, and I wanted to share a bit of knowledge about another member of the patient care team. I have realized during my time in medical school that most people do not really know what medics do working on an ambulance. There are different training levels and specialties within the title “Emergency Medical Technician.” There are EMT‐Basics, Paramedics, SWAT/tactical medics, critical care/flight medics, etc., and for brevity I will refer to them as “medics.” Similar to physician anesthesiologists, medics find themselves in the same situations where they are sitting toward the head of the patient managing an airway, reading a monitor, administering medications and multitasking many treatment decisions based on all different kinds of factors. Many times, this is all done alone in the back of a speeding ambulance which is basically a box on the back of a truck suspension. To say the least, it is quite challenging to undertake skill work like starting an IV while hitting potholes in the back of a truck, and definitely different than a brightly lit, stationary O.R.
I want to also to highlight the kind of person that chooses this profession. These individuals must undergo training that seemed similar to the speed and volume of medical school while doing clinical rotations in EDs and ambulance ride outs. Additionally, many have mandatory physical training which makes studying while fighting fatigue that much harder. After certification, they continually train their skills and knowledge off‐duty. Most medics have second jobs as the average pay was around $13/hr. and work 100+ hours per week. They worked as plumbers, HV/AC technicians, contractors, etc., which only helped them understand fluid dynamics, ventilator physics, special orientation, and many other things that lend themselves to medicine and managing patients.
My experience as both a medic and a medical student has shown that hospital personnel are not quite aware of how much we care about our patients and becoming better at our jobs every day. I especially want to encourage all of you to engage with the medics when given the opportunity. I learned more about the treatments that would occur after I handed off the patient so I was better able to prepare my patient for more seamless care. I learned lots of tricks for unorthodox ways to get IVs, intubate, etc., from an older anesthesiologist who just took a few minutes of his time to show me something he thought might be neat. I also learned that just like you “don’t make the nurses your enemies,” you should show the same respect for the medics. The better the medic, the better the treatment your patient gets as early as possible to improve outcomes and overall teamwork.
Posted winter 2016