Pope John XXIII

This is a self-reflection post.

I think I have given my friends and the people around me the impression that I’m very confident in what I want to do, that my commitment and determination is a result of the epiphany or that it comes naturally to me.  It’s true that once I put my mind into doing something, I’ll chase it down to the ends of the earth in order to achieve it.  But I was not confident at all, I was unsure if I can commit to taking this big step, I had fears and doubts.

  • What makes me think I can handle this job?
  • Should I really be getting my degree then abandoning it?
  • Am I crazy to pick a job that seems to have less benefits and income than one which I can get with my degree?
  • Will I be able to handle the emotional roller coaster that comes with the job?
  • I’ve seen amputated arms, legs, severe burns, lacerations, protruding eyes in textbooks, but will I be able to handle trauma in real life or will I neglect my patient to puke in the corner?
  • Will I be able to pull myself out of the nightmares of certain calls?
  • Will I burnout and quit?
  • Can I handle the long and odd work hours?
  • Will I be able to get through the guilt if a patient dies in my care?
  • What if I get into this field and realize it’s not really the right job?  That it really was all just a dream?

Step #1 Confidence and Commitment

I didn’t even realize it at the time, but it was the people around me who gave me the confidence to step outside of the box when I had to, to chase after something I was unsure of.  I bet none of the people around me even realized that they were the ones that helped me pursue this dream.  In fact, I didn’t even realize how it all happened until I started to reflect.

I’m not saying that this method of creating commitment and building confidence works for everyone, but it works for me.   Peter Koci, my outdoors pursuits teacher once told our class:

Experiential Model of learning involves four steps.  The last and most important one is Social Confirmation.  After learning something new (be it an idea, a strategy, philosophy etc), you have to confirm it with others in order to gain confidence that it works or that it is true.

Social Confirmation, that is the key.  I remember after some contemplation, I decided to tell my friends that I wanted to be a paramedic.  At this point, I was still questioning myself.  Thankfully the close friends I discussed this with were very supportive and said they can totally see me in the field.  Confirmation? Check.  That was a confidence booster.  Then I started telling everyone whom I chanced upon.  I found that each time I told someone “I’m going to be a paramedic” helped bind me to my goal.  The more people I tell, the stronger the connection.  It’s like making a promise.  I can’t say “I’m going to be a paramedic” then back out, since everyone now has an expectation of where I’ll be in the future.  Breaking that is like telling a good friend:  “Yes I’m going to Japan with you”, but then ditching out the minute before boarding the flight.  I never break promises, maybe this is why it’s effective for me.

Step #2 What About the Fear Part?

Answer is simple.  Just face it.  There is no real way of knowing whether this feeling of this is it! is really it, or if I’ll burn out, or if I can’t handle the stress etc etc. until I actually do it.  I found that talking to people who are in the field helped ease my concerns, they answered questions that were bothering me, and more often than not, they were happy to lend a hand.

Note:  If you’re having trouble getting connections to someone in the field that interests you, try setting up an Information Interview or just dropping by an ER or at an ambulance station and talk to the paramedics.  I know people who have done this and it has proven to be very effective.


7 thoughts on “Fears

  1. I know YOU will be able to handle the stress and trauma and overall it’s worth it. Even if you can’t save everyone you’ll save many. Your degree will serve as a “badge” for your hard work and accomplishments (both academic and non-academic) during the 5 years. 🙂

  2. Thank you for posting this.

    I’m a 37 year old who is really wanting to try and enter this field of paramedicine.. An old dog wanting to learn new tricks.. Full of fear and doubts, and not academically accomplished by any stretch of the imagination.. In that sense, I can’t offer much compared to those who are, but I feel this is what I want to do in life.. I’m truly at the crossroads deciding whether of not to try..

    Your blog has certainly answered a lot of the questions anyone would have who want to enter this field and you have painted a much clearer picture for us. For that, I say ‘Thank you’..

    Are you still in this line of work..?? I understand you aren’t blogging here anymore, but check on it once in a while.. I hope you are and deciding to blog once again sometime in the future..

    1. Hi Vinny,

      Nice to hear from you, yes it can be scary being older and looking for a job change. I am still in the field, I now work full time in the city as a paramedic. I’ve been meaning to maybe write a post or two as a lot has changed in the service, especially recently. Things are moving towards a more promising future.

      Right now is a good time to join the service as there are massive hirings to fill in the need for more Paramedics in the city, seniority to get full time and also closer stations has dropped considerably. There are also changes with the universal hourly rate where part timers make a decent amount of money per hour. As well when on kilo shift patterns you automatically get paid 4hrs of full time work at the beginning of your shift.

      Many people are getting close stations like Squamish, Lions Bay, Hope, etc with just a yr and a half of seniority… Although I am not sure if they are local hires (if you live in the area you get hired before those who don’t for rural and remote stations)

      I am not sure what your current job is, but the ambulance service as a part timer is flexible enough for you to hold down a full time side job although I wouldn’t advise it in the long run.

      One option if you’re still not sure whether jump right in, is perhaps doing the EMR course. See if you like the content, see how you do academically and then decide about doing PCP.


      1. Hey there.

        Wow, I didn’t think you would respond so quickly..!! I’m glad to hear that you’re full time in the city now..!!

        Glad to hear that things are changing for the positive in your field. Definitely glad to hear about the pay for part timers and seniority to get full time..

        I am deciding whether to try the EMR course, but I’m confused as to whether or not I would have to move for a part time position in a more rural area.. (I live in East Vancouver and ultimately want to work here if successful..) My understanding is that part timers (especially EMR’s) are stationed in more remote locations to gain experience and at the same time, not be thrown into a busy station in the city.. Am I correct..?? I mean if I finish the EMR course, can I get hired as an EMR in Vancouver..?? Or would I definitely be asked to move for the part time position..?? How do part timers make it on part time pay..? Do they have to just go in with whatever savings they have..?? Did you have to move for a part time position..?? And how long did you work part time before being offered a full time position..??

        My apologies for bombarding you with questions, I don’t even know if I can make it through the PCP program.. It’s a pretty difficult decision for me because I wasn’t a model student by any stretch of the imagination..

        Any and all information is greatly appreciated..!! And once again, thank you Michelle, for the prompt reply..!

      2. Hey there..

        Based on the information you responded with, I decided to try looking for additional information to expand on and I stumbled upon this…. http://www.ratemyemployer.ca/Employers/BC/BC-Ambulance-Service Please read the comments and compare with you own experience..

        I have read every single comment on that page and it is discouraging, to say the least.. I know a lot of them are from years ago, and the information you provided is positive, but I am sooo conflicted at the moment.. =(

        The only positive things mentioned are that they are passionate about the job, the people they work with, and their patients.. Other than that, it’s all negative..

        On the other hand, my optimistic side thinks that if it’s THAT bad, then positive, tangible change HAS to occur.. Which is where your insight comes in, along with a news article from last year stating an infusion of funds for BCAS.. Still absolutely conflicted though..

        Of course, I haven’t taken the first steps yet, I guess that’s a good thing for now until I read your entire blog and look for additional information..

        Looking forward to more blogging from you..!!

      3. Going off on a tangent here, but check this out if you have the time.. A great series focused on the nurses, doctors, specialists and or course, paramedics at the emergency department at VGH.. Fourteen episodes over three seasons.. And it’s amazing.. This is what piqued my interest in nursing, and then paramedicine..


      4. Hi Vinny, I haven’t been on here for a while, if you want to talk about this subject more I’d be happy to. Is there an email I can reach you at?

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