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Hindsight is always 20/20 or If had known then…

November 02

It’s only been a short while since paramedic school started, but I am already looking back to the prerequisite courses with regret. Just like most programs, my school required an A & P pre-req, as of this year they changed the minimum from needing 8 credits worth to 4; instead of the year-long course they are now accepting a one semester intro to A & P (I have my own thoughts on that, but I’ll save them for another day). I opted for the 8 credit 32 weeks of Anatomy and Physiology knowing that the knowledge gained there would provide a strong foundation to build upon during paramedic school. That was a wise choice and I have no regrets about that at all… here’s what I do regret –

Listening to all the paramedics who told me I’d never need to know most of what I was learning. The Krebs cycle (now called the Citric Acid cycle) Action potentials, Ph… the list I’m sure by the end of school will be extensive.

I have said many times that I am not now nor have I ever been interested in being a cookbook medic… give this drug for this then give that drug for that – regardless of the patients presentation… In my mind all chest pain does not necessarily equate to Oxygen, Aspirin, Nitro and Morphine – that’s not to say this isn’t effective treatment for chest pain – just that I don’t believe just because the patient says they have chest pain we HAVE to follow that particular algorithm every single time…. I want to be allowed  encouraged expected to actually THINK.

Here’s the thing that no one bothered to tell me – to understand a drug… ANY drug – you have to understand the physiological actions of the body process the drug effects FIRST in order to then understand how the drug alters that physiological action.

Do you need to understand those specifics to pass the NR exam? probably not… but again I am not interested in just memorizing a list of drugs and what they are used for… I have always wanted to know the hows and whys behind the pharmacology.

We had three lectures (the first three pharm classes) that were all about action potentials – what ions move where when, how that effects the cell and what happens when we alter the normal phases with chemistry. Two of those lectures focused strictly on Vaughan Williams antidysrhytmics  4 (5) classes of drugs that are classified by which ions movement they effect (and beta blockers).

Why did no one tell me this sooner, why did no one say… hey bud- make sure you remember that stuff cause its going to come back big time in p-school? Does it go to the educational standards of other paramedic schools where as long as you can remember the drug info on the NR sheet they don’t care if you understand what you are doing? Is it more the medics I spoke to are by definition “cookbook” and I just didn’t know it until now? Sadly, I don’t have the answers to those questions.

As a basic I wanted a good solid foundation to build on, but I only had people who had been through paramedic school already to guide me as to what was important to learn and what wasn’t. So if you follow this blog and are preparing for paramedic school – I’m telling you now

LEARN about cellular physiology – study action potentials, which ions move during which phases and what that means both to you as a provider and to your patient. Study the ways that the body maintains homeostasis, learn µ, α,and β receptors – where they are located and what they do. THIS simple thing will make your pharmacology classes SO much easier.

I am wasting valuable study time re-learning stuff I should have had down before school started – Don’t make that mistake.

Don't neglect the cellular physiology when you prepare for P school - so figures like this one don't cause you panic

 This stuff IS important and yes my friend you DO need to know it if you want to progress beyond being a cook book medic.

You can’t say I didn’t warn you…

As a reminder its Movember, and I’ve donated my face to raising awareness and funds for Men’s specific cancer… please make a small donation to help raise awareness and funding for research… You can make a tax-deductible donation here

 

Posted by on November 2, 2011 in EMS 2.0, Paramedic School

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Hindsight is always 20/20 or If had known then…

  1. Brandon O

    November 2, 2011 at 12:45

    Sounds like an admirable course. Unfortunately, they’re not all like that.

     
    • hotlightsandcoldsteel

      November 2, 2011 at 12:56

      I specifically selected the program for its reputation, it was rather competitive to get in – over 100 applicants for 24 spots. But I never considered going anywhere else, I would have waited a year to attend this school before going somewhere else.

      I agree it is unfortunate that all courses are not run this way. Perhaps with the new accreditation standard that will improve.

       
  2. Ambulance Driver

    November 2, 2011 at 14:46

    Learning doses, indications and contraindications is purely an exercise in monkey memory. Any high level cretin can do it.

    But if you want to understand why you’re giving it – and just as importantly, why not – you need a strong foundation in pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics.

    And the difference between understanding those and just memorizing a drug sheet is like the difference between a master mechanic and the pimply-faced kid behind the parts counter at AutoZone.

    Which one would you trust to repair your car?

     
    • hotlightsandcoldsteel

      November 2, 2011 at 15:52

      I couldn’t possibly agree more Kelly… Just wish in my naivety I had thought that through while sitting in A & P classes. Fortunately though it’s not too late for me to learn it.

       

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