What is with students these days?
I precept and mentor quite a few students these days. Maybe it’s because I’m old and my memory is going south on me, but I don’t think that I acted quite like this current crop does when I was a student. I think that I took it seriously. I think that I respected the elder members of my profession and did what they told me to, right?
I always tell students that I’m a real jerk when I’m precepting them. I’m not… but I like the whole Mr. Myagi (old reference, look it up youngins) thing. You know, “Wax on Wax off” equates to something EMS related or what not. I try to reinforce the things I think that are important for them to know to be a good provider at whatever level they’re currently working on. Everyone has to work on their assessment and patient communication skills. Everyone has to get good at MANUAL BPs, listening to Lung Sounds, Abdominal Sounds, and their patient’s stories. Everyone has to get good at not being afraid to assess the patient in a competent, professional way. I figure that once they get the assessment and the friendly, professional communication thing down, the rest can be reinforced pretty easily.
Recently I’ve been adopting the “Dr. Cox” school of mentoring students. I love the TV show Scrubs. On the show, Dr. Cox torments his young protoge’ relentlessly and calls him a different girl’s name every time he addresses him. I think that it’s funny as heck and I’ve been doing that lately. The first student I did it to left the program after a week (Not my fault! He was running with another medic a lot more than he was running with me!) and the second, well… the second student I pulled this on really surprised me.
He was an EMT-B already, but was fresh out of class and was working for a fairly slow volunteer service that one of our part-timers volunteers for. She had brought him over to get some experience on a busy service and since I was her partner for the day, he got to be subjected to my whims as a preceptor. I think his name was Stacy, Jennifer, or something.
We had two calls right off the bat. A refusal at a “Nursing Home” that called us for a patient with pink eye, and a “Elderly Man out of Control” at a farm house way out in the country where the County Sheriff ended up transporting on. This kid seemed to be good luck, considering that we weren’t having to go to any coffeeless hospitals that early in the morning. Our streak of luck ended when we caught a tranfer from an ER to a secondary admitting hospital for an elderly lady with a GI bleed.
This was perfect for the kid. It was about an hour-long ride with the patient. Plenty of time to teach the kid “friendly banter” skills with the patient and also to have him do a reassessment q 15min while I sat back, cracked jokes, and worked on the three reports. Win win. We picked up the patient at FavoriteSmall Hospital ER and got her in the truck. He was quiet at first, as all students are, but I made a deal with the patient. I asked her if she could help me get the student over his shyness. Oh boy, she did. She talked his ear off the whole way and he participated in the conversation like a champ.
Yes, I think that it’s important to connect with your patients on a human level. He did that pretty well, actually.
The only thing that I thought he needed work on was how he took blood pressures in a moving truck. Admittedly, that’s a hard skill to master. One of my cardinal sins is to make up a BP and tell me the made-up number you “think” it is. He may have done that.. but I didn’t call him on it right away. Instead I waited until after the trip because the patient was very stable.
“So Denise, how sure are you on those BPs you took? Because… I didn’t know if you could really hear them or not..” I asked him.
“Uhhh, well I was pretty sure… mostly… a little I think” he stammered.
“Stacy, just make sure that you tell me you’re not sure if you’re not sure. I’d rather use incomplete information than fictional information anytime. I’m not accusing you, just curious here.”
After we got back to quarters, the calls died. The other truck ran a DOA but we didn’t get anything for hours. Knowing me, I sat down and worked on the blog for a while and ended up putting a couple of hours into the new site design. After two hours, in walks the student and takes a BP on me. Apparently the kid had spent the last few hours taking Blood Pressure readings on every person at the base!
I think that his name was Joe. He can ride with me anytime.