Healthcare providers have a very difficult job. An EMT is a healthcare provider who is doing the Emergency Department (ED) rounds.
They work in all parts of the ED but spend a good portion of their time on the Emergency Room (ER) floor.
As an EMT, you should be trained and ready to answer any of the questions below.
1) What is an “emergency”?
One of the most common things that you hear an EMT being asked is “what is an emergency?”
Are you afraid that if you answer that you’ll hurt your career prospects? Perhaps.
The answer is an emergency is anything that requires immediate treatment.
If the patient is at the door and you don’t have time to examine him, place a neck collar on him or anything else to get him on the gurney and into the ED, then you call it an emergency.
At the hospital, we call them “clinically urgent” patients.
The patient is in pain or is dehydrated. He is at risk of having a heart attack.
He has a massive wound that needs to be cleaned and dressed. He has a body infection.
He is having chest pains. He has chest pain that is most likely kidney pain. He is having a stroke.
Each of these is an emergency.
Telling someone that you’re unsure of what an emergency is and you need to look it up will hurt your chances of getting paid for your work.
The correct answer is an emergency is whatever needs immediate attention.
2) How do I tell an ED patient that I am the ED doctor?
The above question is related to the above. What is the difference between a physician, nurse practitioner, medical assistant, pharmacist, etc?
One of the things that it is important to do as an EMT is to not be condescending.
A physician, nurse practitioner, medical assistant, etc. isn’t likely to be impressed when you introduce yourself as the doctor and say that you’re in charge of that area.
If you tell someone you are an EMT, try to introduce yourself as another level of provider.
Try and introduce yourself as the shift leader or the operating room team leader.
It’s a way of saying “Hey, I am here to help.”
3) What should I say to patients?
Don’t get into an argument with a patient. It won’t end well.
You are there to help the patient. If the patient is being unreasonable and belligerent, it will not make it any easier to take care of him or her.
What should you say to a patient?
I’ll give you an example. This was sent to me by a local ED provider.
This is an ED patient.
“You’re an ED doctor. I’m a stroke patient. I don’t need a urine sample.
Can you just hook me up to a catheter and we’ll get this over with?
Can you give me some morphine, please? I want to go home.
Are you going to come back in 2 days?”
I won’t be the one to respond to that, so my response will be “I am sorry. The ED doctor was here, and he feels like he needs to take a urine sample.
However, the urine testing machine at the hospital is not very accurate. Your urine test could show you are not having a stroke, but we still need to be sure.”
4) How do I present myself?
A lot of things in emergency medicine are necessary that are outside of the purview of the ER physician.
We will rarely be doing exams, vital signs, or even treating infections. We are so busy trying to save lives and make sure that patients get better.
To get to the patient, we wear our blue scrubs, our name tags, and our lanyards that say “ER physician” or “medical staff” on them.
However, what you do next is just as important, if not more so.
If you wear your name tag proudly, try to look professional and professional, but not like a tool.
Do not wear your name tag as a hat. Wearing it like a hat will make you look like a tool.
If you wear your name tag on your tie clip or your breast pocket, just try to look professional, but don’t try too hard.
I recommend you wear your name tag on your lapel so it’s at eye level, and not taking up too much visual space.
You don’t want it too low or you’ll look too “in your face.”
If your name tag is on your shirt pocket, there is one thing to remember:
When I walk through the door and see you with your shirt pocket pulled all the way up to your chin, then I’m going to think you’re clueless.
You want to make sure your name tag is not so low that you can read it, but not so high that it’s more than two inches from your nose.