EMS Continuing “Education”

Time for me to bring up a semi-regular rant again. The Texas Bar requires 15 hours of continuing legal education a year, including 3 hours of ethics. Up to 3 hours can be self-study including 1 hour of ethics. And the Texas Bar specifically mentions participating in social media for attorneys as part of self-study.

We all know what our state and/or the National Registry require for continuing education for EMTs and paramedics. And that, at least for National Registry much of it has to be “live.”

Riddle me this, Batman. What’s more educational? Reading a #FOAM article shared by some of the EMS/emergency medicine opinion leaders on social media, discussing low titer whole blood with the actual author of many of studies- or sitting through DVDs of the American Heart Association’s resuscitation awareness schlock or listening to whatever a self-proclaimed “EMS Celebrity” has to say at an EMS conference? While there are certainly concerns about gaming the system, that’s already been a known issue with continuing education, whether it’s people signing off on attending classes they weren’t present for or exceptionally low educational value for certain presentations. (See also: certain EMS celebrities presenting on any topic, regardless of subject matter expertise.)

With the amount of hours required to maintain an EMS certification, I’d say it’s time to start allowing a few hours of FOAM and online participation into the mix.

I’ll commend you to read this article about why we should be embracing #FOAM in EMS. The EMS world needs to embrace the evolution in EMS and medical education by giving credit to those actually looking to improve and advance their professional knowledge versus just sitting through dated material because the state or National Registry says so.

As 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 conference.
  • If you want to know how we will practice medicine in the future, listen in the hallways and use FOAM.

In summation, EMS continuing education needs to reflect current practice and actual continuing education as opposed to rehashes of the same dated material that is neither current nor advances medicine.  Neither card courses nor the usual cabal of celebrity EMS conference speakers reflect that.  FOAM and social media often do.  Yet, which gives you actual credit for recertification?

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