Tom Petty Had it right....
The waiting is the hardest part.
Last night I took the NJ State certification exam, and to be honest, I found it easier than the class final.
75 hopeful future EMT's were given up to 2 hours to complete 100 multiple choice questions, which spanned the entire gamut of course materials from operations to anatomy, pediatrics to geriatrics, medical injuries to trauma care.
So I was either really well prepared or clueless.
Results can come in as little as 48 hours, although the State only promises "3 to 6 weeks".
My wife asked me this morning if I was relieved it was all over, to which I snorted and responded, "This isn't the end of the journey, it's just the start."
Now I'm just waiting to hear the word "Go!"...
One behind, one ahead
There are challenges at every step to becoming an EMT. Some are easily overcome, such as learning to take a pulse or blood pressure reading, move a patient to or from a stretcher, or take off a pair of gloves without getting glitter all over yourself (yes, that is from an actual practical skill session...).
Tougher challenges include the mental ones, becoming comfortable with assessments and how to build rapport with patients, especially the ones who might not be able to fully communicate what ails them, yet is reliant upon you as an EMT to keep them safe, and get them to more skilled medical hands.
And then there is the final exam of the EMT course.
And terrified that it's going to be twice as challenging. So send your good wishes my way... I'll take all I can get. ..
The toughest lesson
Today was our final practical exams, a requirement for graduation from the EMT course. Designed to test our knowledge and understanding of all things EMT, covering medical and trauma assessments along with key skills including airway management, bandaging and splinting, CPR and AED usage, and pharmacological interventions such as EPI-Pen and Nitroglycerin administration.
And although the final practical exams were designed to test the skills I have gained over the past 4 months, in the end it taught me perhaps the most important lesson of all -- a reminder that being humble and keeping an open mind may just be the most important EMT skills I can master.
While the EMT course has been challenging, especially for someone who has been out of the day-to-day experience of classes, studying, and test taking for almost 30 years, I felt that I had done pretty well for myself. My quiz and exam grades were always high, and while there was a lot of memorization to accomplish, my own life experiences often helped to put class material in context and perspective. Eighteen months as a driver for the squad gave me an additional sense of how to interact with patients, and the experience of having observed other squad EMTs actually putting some of these skills in action in the course of our calls might have even offered me an edge in some scenarios.
Through the class, the practical exams had gone extremely well, with several instructors telling my that I appeared to have that special quality that would make me a good EMT. I passed through all the practical exams without requiring remediation or a second (and final) attempt to demonstrate a critical skill.
And then there was today. Final exams. And on the fourth and final skill station, I made a huge mistake, one that I won't quickly or easily forget.
Jon Alperin, one of our MFAS volunteers, shares his journey to becoming an NJ certified EMT.
from the Start
Here is Jon's journey, presented in time order: