My Paramedic School Essay

Before being accepted into the paramedic program at my school you have to write an essay. You have to hand write it, but come on, I’m doing an essay in one hand written draft? Not likely. So I typed it up. I thought I’d share it here.

It is short, I think it had to be between 200-300 words.


What are the traits and characteristics that all great paramedics share?

A great paramedic knows their stuff. They are the people other paramedics what to show up when they dial 911. Knowing your stuff isn’t about finishing first in your class, or acing the National Registry, it is about wanting to know everything you can. You aren’t learning from your teachers to pass the test, you are learning to know the material. A great paramedic is a lifelong learner. They are constantly reading and studying the latest in EMS and emergency medicine in general. They are networking with the best in the field and learning from them.

Knowing your stuff is a given, but it won’t make you great. A great paramedic is compassionate, and sympathetic. When a paramedic is called to a scene, this is probably one of the worst days of the patient’s lives. They need someone who shows compassion for their situation. They need to know you understand they are in pain and want to do something about it. That you are concerned not just with fixing the problem, but making them feel better both physically and emotionally. A good paramedic helps their patient calm down and feel it is going to be OK.

Lastly, a great paramedic is likeable. Likeability is hard to define but you know it when you see it. These are people you just like when you interact with them. It isn’t a personality type because there are introverted people who are just as likeable as the life of the party extroverts. A big part of being likeable is the ability to communicate the compassion, sympathy and knowledge I’ve mentioned previously. If you can make people feel good, even when they are in crisis and pain, they are going to like you.


Must not have sounded too full of it because they let me in. I’d be interested to hear what our listeners think the answer to that question is. Both the experienced ones and the other newbies. I don’t think there are any wrong answers here.

  • john

    A great paramedic is also one that lends their knowledge to see others progress. They will be ones that any time any where will step up and do what is right and needed to help another. whether a listening ear or a well practiced skill.

  • john

    A great paramedic is also one that lends their knowledge to see others progress. They will be ones that any time any where will step up and do what is right and needed to help another. whether a listening ear or a well practiced skill.

  • Pingback: What Characteristics Make a Great Paramedic? | A Day In The Life Of An Ambulance Driver()

  • Christine Springfield

    Ron, you have a great handle on it… add in there, too, that they need to be able to perform those skills on scene, under pressure, and take chaos and meld it into something managable. Just knowing what to do and knowing a lot does not turn someone into a crack paramedic. They need to be able to perform, period. I know many very well educated medics that are totally lost on a scene. Just my thoughts…

    Christine

  • Christine Springfield

    Ron, you have a great handle on it… add in there, too, that they need to be able to perform those skills on scene, under pressure, and take chaos and meld it into something managable. Just knowing what to do and knowing a lot does not turn someone into a crack paramedic. They need to be able to perform, period. I know many very well educated medics that are totally lost on a scene. Just my thoughts…

    Christine

  • 9-ECHO-1

    The great medics are the calming force when they arrive on scene. Their presence makes everyone (first responders, patient(s), and family/bystanders) just feel better, or at least calmed down. They may not even have the absolute best skills on scene, but they know who does and they know how to put a good team effort together.

    The great medics are teachers, as well. They can take a nervous, shaking, newbie and with as little as a facial expression, instill confidence in their up and coming paramedic/EMT….

    Yep, those are the great medics…

  • 9-ECHO-1

    The great medics are the calming force when they arrive on scene. Their presence makes everyone (first responders, patient(s), and family/bystanders) just feel better, or at least calmed down. They may not even have the absolute best skills on scene, but they know who does and they know how to put a good team effort together.

    The great medics are teachers, as well. They can take a nervous, shaking, newbie and with as little as a facial expression, instill confidence in their up and coming paramedic/EMT….

    Yep, those are the great medics…

  • Ron

    Good point Christine.

  • Ron

    Good point Christine.

  • I don’t think you can become a successful paramedic without a desire to be challenged and to constantly better yourself. Without these traits you will be left behind quickly, even if 90% of your calls require nothing more than a body in the airway chair.

  • I don’t think you can become a successful paramedic without a desire to be challenged and to constantly better yourself. Without these traits you will be left behind quickly, even if 90% of your calls require nothing more than a body in the airway chair.

  • Ron,
    I love your show and you and Kelly are doing a wonderful service to our Profession.
    In my opinion, expanded from AD’s blog, a great paramedic knows the difference between work and home, emergency and inconvenience, panic and calm, but you’ll never know what mode they’re in.
    Some build a wall up around the job that will eventually be their grave. We have two families in EMS, work and home and both need to be kept aprise of the other to a certain level.
    I would say the ultimate goal of a great paramedic is to always do what is in the best interest of the patient, no matter the scenario or situation.
    I’d like to see P School essays up around 1500 words myself, but I like what you had to say.
    As our good friend Vincent from Pulp Fiction reminds us when asked about the feasibility of eating pork:
    “A pig has personality. Personality goes a long way.”
    I hope to be such a pig.
    That sounds better out loud.
    Keep up the podcasting, I LOVE IT!

  • Ron,
    I love your show and you and Kelly are doing a wonderful service to our Profession.
    In my opinion, expanded from AD’s blog, a great paramedic knows the difference between work and home, emergency and inconvenience, panic and calm, but you’ll never know what mode they’re in.
    Some build a wall up around the job that will eventually be their grave. We have two families in EMS, work and home and both need to be kept aprise of the other to a certain level.
    I would say the ultimate goal of a great paramedic is to always do what is in the best interest of the patient, no matter the scenario or situation.
    I’d like to see P School essays up around 1500 words myself, but I like what you had to say.
    As our good friend Vincent from Pulp Fiction reminds us when asked about the feasibility of eating pork:
    “A pig has personality. Personality goes a long way.”
    I hope to be such a pig.
    That sounds better out loud.
    Keep up the podcasting, I LOVE IT!

  • John Taylor

    Your off to a good start Ron. The simple touch of a compassionate hand can sometimes do more good than ALL of the drugs in your box. Treating every patient as you would a family member also will help.

  • John Taylor

    Your off to a good start Ron. The simple touch of a compassionate hand can sometimes do more good than ALL of the drugs in your box. Treating every patient as you would a family member also will help.

  • Katie

    I love that you included being “a lifelong learner” and someone who is “constantly reading and studying the latest in EMS and emergency medicine in general. They are networking with the best in the field and learning from them.”

    I think that keeping up to date with all the latest issues in EMS is just as important as keeping up your practical skills. I hope to be a well-rounded paramedic like that–one who has all the skills, knowledge, and compassion to help my patients, but also the passion to always strive to be better. I will always be somewhat of an academic, and I’m attracted to this field because it will allow me to challenge my mind, both by keeping up with the latest research AND by allowing me to apply what we learn from that research to improve the quality of patient care. And I think it can be as simple as reading JEMS and a blog or two by some of the smart people in the field. I’m not even technically in the field yet but I’ve learned a lot from Ambulance Driver, Happy Medic, MsParamedic, and others already. And I’ll only be able to grow and learn more once I’ve got some training and experience behind me…..

  • Katie

    I love that you included being “a lifelong learner” and someone who is “constantly reading and studying the latest in EMS and emergency medicine in general. They are networking with the best in the field and learning from them.”

    I think that keeping up to date with all the latest issues in EMS is just as important as keeping up your practical skills. I hope to be a well-rounded paramedic like that–one who has all the skills, knowledge, and compassion to help my patients, but also the passion to always strive to be better. I will always be somewhat of an academic, and I’m attracted to this field because it will allow me to challenge my mind, both by keeping up with the latest research AND by allowing me to apply what we learn from that research to improve the quality of patient care. And I think it can be as simple as reading JEMS and a blog or two by some of the smart people in the field. I’m not even technically in the field yet but I’ve learned a lot from Ambulance Driver, Happy Medic, MsParamedic, and others already. And I’ll only be able to grow and learn more once I’ve got some training and experience behind me…..

  • Ed C

    The good ones are unflappable and begin with the basics. Approach with awareness, don’t let rule # 1 (Don’t become patient #2) overwhelm you. Project confidence – don’t be tentative in your assessment or actions but also be competent in all the skills you draw on – you may be smooth at starting a line but you should also remember – and have recently practiced – bandaging, slings and splinting. Keep up with the new but don’t lose the early stuff.

    Seek out opportunities to teach, it will help you keep your edge. Be open and part of a team, accept observations and questions as you influence others. It’s easy to forget an ancillary factor when you’re concentrating on the primary. “Do you want …?” is a subtle way of saying “Did you forget …?”

    Always remember you are treating a patient, an entire human being, not a tib-fib, a CVA or an AMI.

  • Ed C

    The good ones are unflappable and begin with the basics. Approach with awareness, don’t let rule # 1 (Don’t become patient #2) overwhelm you. Project confidence – don’t be tentative in your assessment or actions but also be competent in all the skills you draw on – you may be smooth at starting a line but you should also remember – and have recently practiced – bandaging, slings and splinting. Keep up with the new but don’t lose the early stuff.

    Seek out opportunities to teach, it will help you keep your edge. Be open and part of a team, accept observations and questions as you influence others. It’s easy to forget an ancillary factor when you’re concentrating on the primary. “Do you want …?” is a subtle way of saying “Did you forget …?”

    Always remember you are treating a patient, an entire human being, not a tib-fib, a CVA or an AMI.

  • I think a great paramedic is able to switch gears and is able to respond to the individul call at hand. One call might require you to be firm with a patient in order for the call to progress in the direction of treatment on another you need to pull out your compassion for the spouse who can’t decide what to do for the dieing patient. On other calls you need to know when you have to call for direction because you don’t know. A great paramedic is able to learn from the mistakes made or the lessons taught. A great paramedic isn’t the smartest out there, isn’t the best looking, and not the one with the most saves. And a great Paramedic is usually accompanied by a great EMT. A paramedic can’t do it on their own.

  • Barry

    Ron-
    I’ve been listening on and off to your podcasts. Just finished my program in May. Had been considering paramedic school but didn’t have the time this fall. I was very surprised (and jealous) to see that’s where you’re headed.

    Am I remembering wrong or was your intention when you started the emt basic program to do only that? If not, how’d your thinking evolve?

    Thanks

  • Matt Kight

    Being nice to the “patient” that has called,
    or had an ambulance called for them 2 or 3 times already in one day does not get niceness. That person has no medical complaint, and should be arrested for stealing from society. I cannot empathize for them. However if I have a child that has uneducated parents that do not keep Motrin or Tylenol at the house for their children. They will get the nicest guy in the world. My point is people that abuse the system for a hot meal and a cot I have no sympathy.