I’ve gotten tired of the media. I’ve gotten tired of the same stories appealing to the uneducated masses. I’ve gotten tired of the same talking heads spreading the same talking points. You thought I was talking about the upcoming national election in November?
Wrong. I’ve gotten tired of the EMS media, both print and online. Virtually every EMS social media, online presence, and print publication consists of the same things. A few clinical “advances” highlighted, usually by a professional EMS Celebrity, the right EMS system, and/or the same cabal of professional committee members who’ve created the mess that is modern EMS — but wait, this time, they’re really going to fix it. Then, there’s all the stuff to tell you what a hero you are. Yes, you should wear your lack of education, your immaturity, and your inability to feed a family on an EMT paycheck as a badge of honor. And the majority of EMS “news” sites consist of results of content searches. If a news article mentions “EMS” or other keywords, it gets shared on EMS news sites. In my mind, this partially explains the Narcan for everyone craze — because, golly gee, they keep reporting on heroin and other scary drugs.
And EMS social media is more of the same. Pandering to the least educated of the profession mixed in with some hero worship and mindless adulation because merely going to a job that involves less than 200 hours of initial education makes you a hero. And by God, if you can’t pass an exam that measures minimal entry level competence to safely function, then don’t worry. We’ll keep encouraging you and tell you to keep chasing those dreams, no matter how unrealistic they are, you special snowflake!
At times, you’ll see EMS media get it right. The cover of the current edition EMS World is about prehospital ultrasound. Some of my friends in EMS who want to advance EMS as a profession and expand the role of EMS providers have tried, with occasional success, to raise the bar. Yet, the reality is that there’s always more average and below average EMS providers to consume the media. And in a capitalist society, we go where the money is.
I don’t know that we can fix the problem. What I do know is that there is plenty of good educational material out there to be an informed, current provider. You just have to look for it. There’s even some good stuff online. If you’re not familiar with FOAM, you should be. There’s some incredible cutting edge medicine being spread on social media. I like the quote that Dr. Joe Lex says:
If you want to know how we practiced medicine 5 years ago, read a textbook.
If you want to know how we practiced medicine 2 years ago, read a journal.
If you want to know how we practice medicine now, go to a (good) conference.
If you want to know how we will practice medicine in the future, listen in the hallways and use FOAM.
And that brings me to the final point that I have regarding becoming and remaining an informed practitioner of prehospital medicine. If what we are doing is medicine — and I believe it is, then we need to be getting our education from physicians. I admit to being a nerd about medicine. I have several physician level texts that I use to expand, broaden, and challenge my notions about medicine. And a personal goal is to attend more physician level professional education.
A rising tide may not always lift the rest of EMS, but I believe that if the smartest and most motivated of us in EMS demand more for our professional development, just maybe, we can start to be taken seriously as professionals.