Let me ask YOU a question. What do you think about this:
How do we recognize the best and brightest among us? How would we distinguish the EMTs and Paramedics who have earned the respect and admiration of their peers for being “Really Good” at what they do? I don’t mean just a little bit good, or “pretty” good. I mean masterfully good. The kind of Paramedics that Johnny and/or Roy would have wanted to be had they grown up watching them on Saturday mornings. The kind of people that have worked in the profession for as long as they can remember but that never lost the passion for the job. The kind of people who read everything they can, study everything they can get their hands on, and always seem to have the answers to the most challenging of EMS trivia, as well as the most mundane.
What would we call them?
The old trade guilds used to call their most experienced and skilled members “Master”, as in the term “Master Craftsman”. As their members worked through the years and learned the ropes of the trade, they progressed through the various levels until they reached “Master” status. Some unions still use those terms and honestly, I’m unfamiliar with what all of them are. That’s ok with me because I see Paramedicine as a profession and not as a trade, but I do respect their tradition of honoring those that have earned the title of “Master” by thoroughly mastering their craft.
So what do we EMS people do? How would we recognize a “Master Paramedic” or “Master EMT”?
I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while, honestly. As I progress in the profession and in my career path, I’ve seen the people who were my mentors keep working alongside of me. They’re my colleagues now, and although they still mentor me in some ways, they have been progressing along their own paths just as I have this whole time. Some of them have become true masters of the profession. Some of them have not. Some of them could really be called “Master Paramedics” and I would like to know how we as a profession should recognize those people. I see that these people don’t tend to be treated very well by the profession in general and I think that it’s a crying shame. Think about it, new paramedics walk in the doors to the profession and are allowed to work in the same capacity as our master medics within a relatively short time. Employers tend to not want to keep these people around when budgets get tight because these people tend to be on the upper end of the pay scale. In some agencies there’s a defined career path and upward ladder, but in a lot of (and dare I say most) agencies there is not.
So what if there were a certification, or some way to define a “Master Paramedic” and/or “Master EMT”? What would be the qualifications? What would be the benefits? How would we define those people who have earned (Yes, really EARNED) “Master” status?
This is one of the things I’m asking you to think about. If you would please, put some thought into this and write what you think would make a “Master” paramedic or “Master” EMT in the comments section. No, I don’t think that this is silly. I really want to know what you all think about this.
Here’s what I think:
- Minimum Years in the Profession: The Master EMT or Paramedic should have more than 10 years of FULL TIME service (15 years if volunteer, depending on call volume)
- Minimum Experience and Type of Calls: The master EMT or Paramedic should be experienced in a broad spectrum of the different types of EMS. 911 response within diverse response strategies, Medical Transports, and In-Hospital medical care.
- Teaching and Precepting Experience: The Master EMT or Paramedic should have experience teaching EMS classes and in mentoring new providers.
- Command Experience: The Master Paramedic of EMT should have experience in being in command of different types of emergency scenes and large scale responses.
- Knowledge: The Master Paramedic or EMT should have to pass a complex series of tests that show not only rote memorization, but also complete conceptualization and deep background knowledge of a broad spectrum of EMS and Medical related knowledge.
- Acknowledgement by Peers: The Master Paramedic or EMT should have the support and admiration of his colleagues, coworkers, and peers and should be able to get them to vouch for him or her when asked.
Now, I also ask you. If you were to recognize a person that could pass the standards that I’ve set, or that you and others set in the comments below, how should we show our respect to these people for their professional achievements? How should our profession honor and acknowledge our highest achievers?
I’m very curious about this issue. Please feel free to add your thoughts.