Saturday, January 31, 2015

I haz Paramedic

This post is a bit overdue. I originally meant to write it last summer but due to reasons of which I will speak it didn't get written. Once it was appropriate to post I had simply forgotten until it just occurred to me that I had never brought closure to my Paramedic journey. So a bit of a recap. I started in Emergency Medicine in 2006 when I took an EMT-Basic course on a whim to see what it was all about. I graduated and didn't due much with that skill. When it came around for my 2 year renewal I discovered it was easier and cheaper to renew if I was actually running on a service. I started volunteering on a local ambulance service and the rest is history. Eventually I got hired for a paid EMT position. I progressed to EMT-Intermediate and I took the class for Advanced EMT although I never finished the written exam. More on that later.

Being a paramedic had always been in the back of my mind but in 2012 I realized I needed to get in the 2013 class at my local community college or it wasn't going to happen. Several reasons for his. They only accepted applicants once a year, my GI Bill eligibility would expire in 2014, and The National Registry of EMT was phasing out my current rating. It was go back down the chain or go up by 2016. So January 2013 found me sitting in the classroom as an new paramedic student. Fast forward 15 months and I graduated from the program in May of 2014 with a AAS degree in Paramedicine. That was all good and well but really only made me eligible to be nationally registered. The degree means I had completed the training I still needed to take the required practical (hands on) skills test and the written exam. Ask any Paramedic and they will tell you that theses tests are very difficult and definitely a right of passage.

The day of the practical I was nervous and very concerned about my performance. Not knowing exactly what to expect I had poured over numerous youtube videos in a final effort to cram for this hands on exam. I was really concerned about the static and dynamic cardiology stations:

As luck would have it I passed those stations with no problem. I did however have to retest the very last station I had tested. This was one of the oral stations where you were given a medical or trauma scenario and had to verbally relate in great detail how would handle the scenario, There were 2 of these stations during the test. I was surprised when they told me I had failed that station as I thought for sure I had done well. Good news was I only had to retest 1 station, bad news was I totally fell apart on the retest and was a no go. So this meant I had to pay another fee and drive 150 miles to retake the one station I had missed twice at the first available opportunity. So 2 weeks later I did just that. I was even more nervous than originally because now if I failed I would have to retest the entire practical after paying for a refresher class. But things went my way that day and I was in and out in less than 2 hours having passed the practical. I breathed a sigh of relief. But now I had to pass the written test.

Myself and National Registry of EMT written tests have a long and sordid history. These tests are adaptive meaning they base your questions on how well you are doing answering the other questions. They are also highly regulated. Here I write about my troubles with other tests:

NREMT EMT-I Practical

NREMT-I Written Exam

What I didn't write about was the fact that I took the AEMT written test 3 times and never passed it. I eventually stopped trying putting all my eggs in the paramedic basket. So I studied for my written test and when I showed up to take it I was apprehensive but hopeful. When I left the test center I really had no idea how i did. Well I bombed it failing 4 out of 5 sections. I was crushed. So I doubled down, spent money on a pay study site as well as the free one I already had. I gave it 4 weeks and tried again. This time when I left I knew I had not done well. I was not surprised at all to see that I had failed again. At this point counting AEMT and EMT-Intermediate, I was 1 for 8 in my last 9 attempts at an NREMT written test. Not very good odds. I was crushed and serioulsy doubting if this was something I could do. I had some long talks with a friend that I consider my EMS mentor and he told me some things that helped me feel better about the results but not the process. So I studied and studied some more. I approached the test center to take my last and final chance with the confidence of a gnat. As I answered questions I was feeling more and more confident however. This time was different somehow. I actually started getting optimistic. After the test I hoped against hope. I tried not to think about it for 36 hours until I forced myself to check my account to see if I had passed. Miracle of miracles I had passed!! I finally was a paramedic. Things have moved swiftly since then, I am working as a paramedic at 3 different services on a PRN basis. I still have much to learn OJT but my long academic journey is over.

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