I recently heard a good friend of mine say that she’s “just” a basic, because she recognizes the limits of what she can do — and presumably, what she knows.
Well and good. The first step in becoming a proficient provider, in my view, is to know that you don’t know what you don’t know. That applies to everyone from the newest first aid provider to the most experienced subspecialist physician.
But the next step is to realize that while scopes of practice may be a limit, there’s no law, statute, regulation, or administrative rule that creates a scope of knowledge. In other words, there’s no limit to what any provider can learn. Will they be able to do a new skill? Probably not. But having the knowledge doesn’t always reflect itself in a skills base.
So, my advice to each of you is simple. Keep learning. Challenge yourself with increasing your knowledge base. EMTs shouldn’t be afraid to read a paramedic text. Paramedics should be reading medical texts. (In my opinion, it’s imperative to have both Tintinalli’s and Harrison’s on your bookshelf if you’re an advanced provider.) The purpose of continuing education, which we as EMS providers keep forgetting, is to enhance our knowledge, not merely repeat the same classes to check off the same requirements.
Maybe, just maybe, when EMS providers recognize their certification card as a license to learn, not merely as a sign of achieving their career objective, we can be recognized as EMS professionals.
The Texas EMS Conference starts this weekend. I’ll be there with my license to learn. Will you?