About Apathy

About Apathy

A little read that got me thinking into all those medics that do the bare minimum for their patients. Have a read:


Just for those of you who asked, I will post my thoughts on the state of apathy. I might even use a big word. Just bear with me.

Everybody just wants to complain. Whine, moan, bitch, and complain. But they don’t want to do a thing about it.

We want more drugs, more procedures, more leeway to determine who does and does not need to go to a hospital. But we don’t accept the responsibility that comes with it. We don’t go to lectures at the teaching hospitals offered to the medical staff. We don’t read. We don’t write. We don’t further our profession.

No. We come to work for our checks and we bitch all the way to the bank.

And I’m tired of it.

I know other paramedics don’t go to medical staff lectures. I know this because I do, and invariably, I am the only paramedic in the room. Hell, I’m the only guy in the room that doesn’t have MD or DO behind his name.

I know this because I have been going regularly. Some of the doctors at Big Teaching Hospital know me by name. Because I am involved. I take notes. I ask questions. Good questions, too. Questions that other medics should be asking, but they can’t because they are too busy planning their next vacation or playing the newest video game or planning their next drinking binge with their buddies.

Call me self-righteous all you want. But don’t call me lazy. And you sure as hell better not call me apathetic.

Why wouldn’t we go to the same continuing education programs that physicians do? For crying out loud, the word Paramedic means a person who is trained to work in an auxiliary capacity to a physician.  

I know other medics don’t read. I know this because of the looks I get when I reference medical research. “There was an article in the BMJ a few months ago that…” “What the hell is the BMJ?” is the response I get. “Why would I read a medical journal?”

We don’t further our profession because we don’t care about our profession. Perform your own experiment at your service: ask your coworkers what their plans are for EMS 2.0. Let’s see what the response is.

But nobody cares. NOBODY CARES.

Sure, there are those of you who are regular readers of EMS bloggers. You care. Those with the blogs care. But the rest of EMS doesn’t. I can wade through my almost 1,000 comments posted to my blog since I started roughly 14 months ago and bet that there are fewer than 50 contributors The same people are commenting over and over again.

I’m no prolific blogger by any stretch of the imagination. But when I review my stats, the two posts that have the most views are posts entitledI don’t like people and A letter to a stethoscope thief. That’s what interests the vast majority of blog readers: sophomoric musings on why people generally suck and an asshole that stole my stethoscope. (Well, mine at least.)

But when I try to get people involved, to actually take ownership of EMS, and to play a more proactive role, I am met with a lugubrious apathy that irritates me to my very core.

I was met with this during our protocol-writing meetings. “It’s not fair that some paramedics would be able to use drugs that other paramedics can’t” was the paraphrased response I heard when we were discussing carrying some antihypertensives. “Life ain’t fair, buddy. You want to use the fancy stuff, go to the fancy classes.” was my response.

Andrew Grove, who rose to be CEO of Intel, wrote a book called Only the Paranoid Survive in which he gives leadership advice to people that work in any industry. Andrew Grove knows how to be successful. He says that there are:

“…moments in any business in which massive change occurs, when all the rules of business shift fast, furiously and forever. He calls these moments “strategic inflection points (SIP)” and he has lived through several. They are not always easy to spot – but you can’t hide from them.”

These strategic inflection points can make or break a business. I believe we are in the midst of what Mr. Grove would refer to as an SIP. Community Paramedicine, Critical Care Transport, expanded scope, changing educational requirements. Those that aren’t prepared to change and adapt are doomed to suffer terrible losses, the same that Intel suffered for three years before realizing they had to change their business model to compete with the Japanese.

Those in our profession who are not willing to change, who are okay with the prevailing apathy, are about to get, run over by a train. And when they get knocked out and wake up to a bright light, it’s not a paramedic checking their pupils; it’s that train coming right back for them.

So, if you aren’t ready to change, if you aren’t ready to make this the true profession that it should be, if you aren’t ready to learn, to take responsibility, to take ownership, to be proactive, then leave.

Go get a job doing something else. Do everyone a favor.

And if you are a manager, and you are the resistant force to this change, step aside and let a true leader take over. Managers manage, and anyone can do that. It’s not hard to babysit employees and to slap their wrists when they do something wrong. It is a whole different story when it comes to being a leader. Leaders have vision, and they know how to accomplish their vision.

Rudy Giuliani was by most accounts, a great mayor. Mayor Giuliani recognized that he did not know how to solve problems, but he had a vision for the way things should be. He used his vision to select people who shared his vision to fill his positions of leadership. And he accomplished his goals as a Republican in an overwhelming Democratic city. I am not from New York, and if you want to disagree with me on Mayor Giuliani’s politics, do it somewhere else, not here.

This is my career. This is what I want to do. It is not a ‘stepping stone’ nor am I in a ‘holding pattern until something better comes along.’ This is what I do.

And frankly, I am tired of the same old lazy, apathetic losers standing in the way of our progress.

Change, get out of the way, or get out. Period.

A grand quote from the aforementioned Mr. Grove:

“Your career is your business, and you are its CEO”

Would you fire yourself? A lot of EMTs and Paramedics should.

    • TJ
    • May 27th, 2016

    Wow. Frankly said, I stumbled upon this blog looking for an article about newcomers – I’m not gonna start my education til next year – but I kept reading and this right here? This is the most motivating thing I’ve ever read.
    I want to be the kid who reads and learns and educates herself, and I think you are awesome. Just. AWESOME.

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