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Career change to EMS with low undergrad GPA

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rough draft, and I'm glad to get this first version out. please give me some feedback. thanks guys and gals.



“Put him back in bed, wait 20 mins and run another strip.” OK now I’m confused, but I follow the teams lead and carefully lift Grandpa back to bed and tuck him in with his Lion King blanket. As we picked up our EMS litter and shuffled past the grieving Cantonese-speaking family, my head was spinning. Twenty minutes later back in the rig I asked my medics for some answers. I learned that we were behind the curve from the moment we walked in the door. Grandpa expired at least a half day earlier in his easy chair, and the family had put him to bed because they thought he was asleep like usual. They called 911 when they thought he died and wanted us to come and confirm. They didn’t know about DNRs or how violent CPR is. From the moment we starting working the code, the family was pleading to the fire captain with the help of a translator to get us to stop. This took at least ten minutes, and the verbal consent of online medical direction. I left sweaty, nauseous and shocked that I was instantly swept into such an intimate-yet painful moment in this families life.

I came back from my EMT ride-alongs with the confirmation I was looking for. I made a great move. The following week I spent time in a San Francisco ED to satisfy my clinical hours. I was exposed to three times as many patients as on the ambulance, and that is when I met Jay Frazer, a PA working the Fast Track side. He was about to treat a patient with an inguinal abcess and asked if I’d like to watch. Though the procedure was a failure; due to an early exit by the patient, the interaction impressed me. I wanted to have the confidence to lead a patient through it too. Jay would become my mentor and the coach in my corner.

Determined to complete my pre-requisites quickly, I decided to enroll in the SFSU Pre-Nursing Post-Baccalaureate Program. I was drawn to the cohort model because I learn best by working in teams. I have excelled in these courses and finished with a 3.7 GPA. Life has changed a lot for me since I was a 19 year-old, and I am now a determined and proven 34 year-old student.

While working as an EMT at the convention center I have patients come to me daily to check their blood pressure. When it is abnormal, I ask them why they aren’t compliant with their hypertension medication and the answer is usually, “Because my pressure got better”. This is one of my favorite parts of my job because I can help encourage these patients to own their own healthcare. Simple actions of listening and encouraging dialogue have helped me gain a better grasp of a patient’s whole health. I have spotted a cardiac event from a complaint of headache, and hypertension from a nose bleed. I like it when I can help a person with their immediate health problems, but find more reward in sustained progress; the relationship developed from continued visits.

I love the team dynamic of EMS, but it is not always emergent, Extra-hospital Medical Services or Efferent Medical Services would be a more accurate descriptor for EMS.

I see myself as an understudy and adjunct to the medics and doctors. In a sense, EMTs and paramedics are field physician-extenders with limited scope of practice and knowledge. By shadowing PAs in emergency room and cardiology clinics, an ED Pediatrics Fellow and spending time at community health clinics here and in Panama I have formed a better sense of my intended purpose. It feels great to be able to roll someone into the hospital alive, but i want to see them walk out with a long and full life. If patients have a successful relationship with their primary care providers I feel that they can prevent many medical hardships, and avoid experiences like the Cantonese family and their unfortunate lack of knowledge of DNRs and 911.

With my years in hospitality I learned how to treat people to individual memorable experiences, but by practicing team medicine I'd manage their conditions so they could live for those moments to come. My career change has gone from creating momentary emotional happiness, to meaningful health interventions. Getting work as a 911-EMT in San Francisco was no simple task, I survived expensive training, high cost of living, and successfully navigated the flooded EMS system. By working as a skills instructor for an EMT program I remain sharp, and I reinforce my knowledge by teaching others.

After I finish PA school I want to work in a rural community primary care setting with my sights set on joining a Disaster Medical Assistance Team. I want to go where I am needed most, years ago I took an oath as an Eagle Scout to help other people at all times and still live by it. I know that my years of connecting with people has taught me empathy, and with a PA education I can teach people how to best manage their own healthcare.

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