Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category
Today (well yesterday, technically) made one year that I have been working at my current place of employment.
When I realized the date and stated this to my co-worker, she said, “Yay! Let’s all go to the party they’re not going to throw for you!” Rude people burstin’ my bubble.
It certainly hasn’t been the worst year of my life, but it’s definitely not where I expected I’d be right now. After college, my plan was to go to EMT school and work full-time as an EMT while getting myself ready for graduate school. As you know, that didn’t work out, and I found myself back in the midwest working in a psychiatric hospital and part-time as an EMT.
If things had gone my way, right now I’d have submitted my applications to various Ph.D programs in clinical psychology and would be nervously awaiting their decisions in the coming months. I’d go off to grad school this fall, spend the next 5-6 years becoming a clinical psychologist and focusing my research and practice on disaster mental health, and end up traveling the world responding to disasters or a professor at a well-respected institution (I can dream.), or something like that.
Instead, this job has turned me on to the field of nursing. I love what I do and I’m damn good at it, and with this experience and the right education, I could be a damn good nurse. I have not turned my back on EMS, nor have I forgotten that it was my first passion. I’ve just discovered a different path to achieve many of the same goals and involving all of my interests—EMS, patient care, evidence-based medicine, public health, clinical psychology, disaster mental health, patient advocacy, and education—and melding them into a career somehow.
I hope to become a paramedic someday in the future, but a year working part-time as an EMT in a small, boring town leaves me ill-prepared for that right now. However, a year working as a CNA at the facility I work at has done well to prepare me for a career in nursing. Therefore, over the next year, I will be working hard to earn the required prerequisites for nursing school and will be sending in my applications by this time next year. I have an idea of what the course of my life will look like after that ,but I won’t reveal that to you yet. Just know that I’m pressing forward down the path that is right for me and the one that will allow me to help the most people in the best way.
It’s amazing how much differently the past looks with a year of hindsight behind you. You realize that what seemed like the end of the world at the time was actually the best thing that’s ever happened to you. Regret fades and transforms into relief, and despair into hope. Where there was once uncertainty, there is now a plan, better and more fitting than the one before. And someone who was once a reject is now on top of her game, ready to set the world on fire.
“The only point of clocks and maps, the only point of looking back is to see how far we’ve come.” –Dawes, How Far We’ve Come
This is how far I’ve come in a year. I look forward to looking back again a year from now to see how far I’ll have come (wow, what a weird sentence, but yeah…).
Hello, loyal readers!
Remember me? Well, I’ve been in Middle of Nowhere, USA for over 6 months now and it’s been almost that long since I’ve written a blog post (yikes!) so I thought I’d amend that right now.
Okie dokie then, where to start?
1. I made it past the probationary period at my (counselor) job last week! Translation: Before, they could fire me without reason or notice and I didn’t have access to my vacation time. Now, they’d have to go through hell to fire me and I haz vacation!
2. Speaking of vacation, I’ll be using all of mine to spend a week in New Orleans for EMS World Expo!! That’s right. Thanks to the never-ending awesomeness and generosity of Kelly Grayson, a.k.a. Ambulance Driver, I’ve got a free pass to the conference! I was planning on going anyway—y’all know what a nerd I am. I can’t resist going to a conference where all of the greatest minds in EMS congregate annually to share their knowledge and experience with us newbies (and oldies alike)! But now I have $385 less that I need to earn in overtime. That translates to about a gazillion more hours I have to not be at work, stay home, and focus on other things.
3. Speaking of other things, graduate school is probably still happening in the near future. Like in the next couple of years. After attending a conference geared toward helping young Native people like myself with the graduate school process, I have a ton more confidence in myself and my grad school potential. I have been energized and am SO READY to go to grad school RIGHT NOW. I just still need a bit more time to prepare. My current timeline has me ready to apply and to start in the fall of 2014. That’s IF I can make the most of these 2 years until then and put together a kick-ass application to get into the schools I want to go to.
4. I became a real EMT this week as well. I know, I know. I became a real EMT when I passed National Registry. Then when I got my registry certificate/patch in the mail. Then when I got hired for an ambulance service. Then when I started working for that ambulance service. And now I’ve become a /real/ EMT again now that I’m off orientation and on my own! I work part-time as an EMT, meaning I only work a couple of shifts per week, so it took about 4 months for me to complete my 4-step orientation packet. But I’m done now and had my first (half) shift on my own on Sunday! =D The main thing I struggle with now is learning my way around this town (gimme a break! I’ve only lived here 6 months and I basically just drive to and from work every day…). Of course, I continually strive to become a better EMT—you know, someone who is capable of actually assessing and treating a patient rather than being just a medic’s bitch—and will continue to develop my clinical skills with each and every call. I love the medics at my service and they’re all pretty good at throwing tips and advice my way to help me grow into the truly kick-ass EMT I know I can be.
And that’s my current life in a nutshell. I promise I’ll make my grand return to the blogosphere very soon! My absence has not been due to lack of material—I’ve just been so busy. I work an average of 64-72 hours per week between my two jobs and I just needed a break. (Hey, blogging takes up a lot of time and energy!)
No, no, no. Don’t y’all worry. Ms. Katie B., B.A., NREMT, CNA, Badass Bitch will be back in full force very soon! Look forward to it.
It has occurred to me that I might have to change the title of this blog from Liberal Artist in the Ambulance to Liberal Artist in the Psychiatric Hospital or Liberal Artist in the Middle of Nowhere…
You ever hear that quote by Joseph Campbell, “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.”? Well, I know from personal experience…it’s true.
As the regular readers of my blog will know, my life was thrown into turmoil a while back when my dream of becoming an EMT was crushed. It was devastating because, well, it was my dream! I was shocked, confused, and also in a very difficult financial situation as well.
But good news! Life has improved since then and things are still looking up! I have moved to the wonderful, wonderful Midwest (a.k.a. “The Middle of Nowhere”), got a job, bought a car, and am leasing an apartment. Admittedly, any one of those things by itself would have been a huge step up from my previous situation (I mean, when you hit bottom the only way to go is up, right?), but I still feel extremely blessed to have all of those things after only being here for 3.5 weeks.
See the thing is, I didn’t just get any job. I got a job in a mental health setting. That is a big deal considering that is my probable future career field. Even though going home for EMT school and eventually to work full-time as an EMT was my plan, obviously that wasn’t where I was meant to be. I had myself convinced that I would somehow be able to do that and still prepare for graduate school at the same time. It is only now, in retrospect, that I realize how silly that was. There are so many reasons why I am not ready for graduate school yet and so many things that I need to work on between now and then—I’m trying to figure out how I was stupid enough to believe that I could do all that in that setting.
I’m not ready to thank the company for not hiring me yet, either. I feel like it will probably end up being the best thing that ever happened to me, even though it was the most devastating. However, it still hurt. I had the want-to and the know-how to be an EMT, it was something that I was passionate about doing, and there was nothing about me (that I could identify) that would lead them to believe that I wouldn’t be a good employee with them. In the days that followed the news, I kept trying to figure out what was wrong with me that they didn’t want to hire me. And I know everyone is wondering the same thing. But I’ve finally come to realize that there is nothing wrong with me. These kinds of things are as much about fit-ness as they are about qualifications, and I guess I was just not a good fit for that company.
Whatever the reason, and whatever my life would have been had things gone according to my plan, it’s time to let go. I’m making a good life for myself here. I have enough money to pay my bills and buy food, and that’s all I can really ask for. Yes, I miss Louisiana a bit—mostly the food, some of the people—and no, I don’t plan to stay in the Midwest forever. But by moving here, I have been able to get closer to where I want to be sooner than if I had stayed home. Now, because I’m getting experience in a mental health setting, graduate school seems so much more attainable than before. And my EMS career isn’t over yet! I’m going to be interviewing with the EMS agency here and hopefully I’ll be able to attain my true dream of combining my interests in EMS and clinical psychology into a career.
So for now, I will keep the name of this blog as Liberal Artist in the Ambulance because I still do hope to be just that very soon. Que sera sera and we’ll go from there…
Alright, calm down. I know that I said I was going to take a hiatus. But sitting here on New Year’s Eve with nothing to do, I realized that I didn’t want my last blog post of 2011 to be such a downer.
I’ve been pretty down lately for obvious reasons and would be lying if I said I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012. But in reality, it has only been these final weeks of 2011 that have been truly bad. I wanted to take a few minutes to remind myself some of the GOOD things that have happened in 2011. They include:
- Driving a car in the snow for the first time (small victories)
- Completing my senior thesis on perceptual categorization in pigeons, presenting it at the Minnesota Undergraduate Psychology Conference, and receiving a grade of “Distinction” on it
- Attending my college’s annual Spring Concert where I discovered my new favorite band (Dawes—check them out. Seriously.)
- Graduating from one of the best colleges in the country, but not before enjoying more good times with many wonderful friends
- Last, but certainly not least, I became an EMT—a real, live, Nationally Registered EMT (no big deal)
As the new year rolls in, I can’t help but notice that this is the first time…ever, I think…that I have absolutely NO IDEA where I will be sitting a year from now. Things aren’t going so well for me right now and I’m trying to turn that around by starting a new life in a new state in 2012. It’s exciting because I really do believe that better opportunities await me there and I’m optimistic that in no time, thanks to the help of generous friends, I will be back on my feet (and facing the right direction this time). But it is also really scary. I am taking a huge risk moving to another state with no money and no job. I’m hopeful that things will work out for the best, but we’ll just have to wait and see won’t we?
Therefore, my New Year’s resolutions are simple and vague: WORK HARD and BE BRAVE. If I stick to that, then hopefully by this time next year (or hey, maybe even sooner) I’ll be a lot closer to where I want to be in life.
Okay, hiatus over. Seriously, I love writing and forgot how therapeutic it can be. No need to give up on it because one thing didn’t go my way.
See y’all in 2012!
Just like that, everything changes.
A dream goes up in smoke.
One day I’m Ms. Katie B., B.A., NREMT-B, Badass Bitch and the next I am a loser rejected from my dream job for God knows what reason.
That’s right. The borg has decided it’s too good for me.
There goes 6 months of my life down the drain, all for nothing.
Don’t worry, I’ll be okay. I’m just shocked, confused, angry, devastated, and humiliated by this news. When my application didn’t go through, I thought it was a technical error. But nope, it was never meant to go through. They decided a long time ago that they didn’t want to hire me.
I’m looking into options for what I can do now. There is only one other EMS service in my area (as Big Green has the monopoly on EMS in this state) and I heard that they aren’t hiring. If that’s true, then I may be making my move back to the midwest a year and a half earlier than planned. I’ve got generous friends there that are willing to take me in and help me start over. Something will work out. I’m trying to have faith that this is just what was meant to be and things bigger and better than this are going to present themselves to me soon.
One more thing, you’ll have to forgive me but I think I am going to take a hiatus from blogging for a bit. I feel like such an ass because everything I have been blogging about the last year was leading up to this and it didn’t work out. I don’t want to have to relive my failures in the public eye…at least until I work things out.
I really appreciate everyone’s love and support during this extremely difficult time! I know things will work out for me, just give me some time to get there and I’ll be back greater than ever!
So. The day I had been working towards for 4 years has come and gone. After one big, jumbled-together, sleepless, LONG day, I am finally back on the bayou.
I almost teared up a bit when we crossed the Minnesota state border into Iowa. It was like it was the first time that I had the chance to think, “Wow. I’m really leaving.” Pre-senior week, there is nothing but excitement for senior week—you push back whatever negative emotions you may be feeling about post-graduation because you’re just trying to enjoy some time with your friends and family. Then senior week is so dang busy that there is no time to feel anything except stress because there is still SO MUCH PACKING to do in between the fun and festivities and receptions and rehearsals. Then, the big day is upon you before you know it, and you’re kicked off campus by 5 pm that very same day. (Well, in my case 1 pm—my father was very anxious to get back home so he wanted to start the 20-hr drive as soon as possible.) Then, just like that, here. Boom. Done.
I think the reality that my college life is over is still sinking in. I don’t feel a whole lot of anything right now—just blah. But I’m prepared to deal with whatever emotions may come later and hopefully the excitement of my new life as an (soon-to-be) EMT student will provide sufficient distraction.
Speaking of being a soon-to-be EMT student (this is supposed to be an EMS blog after all!), I will be attending the required information session for EMT school tomorrow afternoon! I’m just a little bit excited. Just a little bit. And by “a little bit,” I mean a lot. My friend, whom I will call MG, got me the most appropriate graduation gift you could give a future EMT: a stethoscope and a sphygmomanometer. I’ve been running around, forcing my friends and family to let me take their blood pressures and listening to the heartbeats of the cat and dog. They think I’m bad now…wait until I start making them play dead so I can practice head-to-toe rapid trauma assessment on them!
The happiest, most productive, most accomplished and life-changing 4 years of my life are over. As they say, “All good things must come to an end.” But they also say that “When one door closes, another door opens.” I may be in limbo right now (living with my parents and jobless—but hopefully not for long; I’ve got an interview on Thursday!), but it’s only a couple of months before the next great part of my life begins to unfold.
63 days. I’m so ready.
Until then, I will continue looking for a job, reading lots of books, and studying for the GRE, as planned. And, because I’m just full of cliches today, I will close with yet another quote….just because I happen to like it and it fills me with optimism—don’t judge me.
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Today is the first day of the rest of my life.
I wrote two posts so far blabbing on and on about what a liberal arts education is and why I think it might help me in my EMS career. But what about my EMS education? While I hate to call this “Introduction Part 3,” that’s kinda what it is, but bear with me–I’ll stop talking about myself at some point…maybe.
I first dabbled in EMS two summers ago when I decided to take Certified First Responder training. I had been toying around with the idea of EMS as a career for several months now, and this seemed like a logical first step to see if I liked it. I also thought it would be nice to have something fun and productive to do over the summer, as my life consisted of working 40 hours a week…..and that was about it. But still, this was a purely intellectual endeavor–I never intended to actually practice as a First Responder (how could I, being a full-time student and all that?).
As such, I knew that if I wasn’t going to be practicing for another 2+ years, I would have to work extra hard to keep up my knowledge–I pledged to reread my textbook over every break (we have a winter break, spring break, and summer break here, so at least 3 times a year), which I have done with some success. I also really wanted to subscribe to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS), but it took some time for me to save enough money (a year long subscription is quite expensive for a poor college student!). And of course, I also searched the internet for whatever information I could find. I was particularly curious as to what EMS is really like in the field, as this is something that I’ve never experienced, so I started to look for books that would help paint a picture for me. Last summer, I ordered a whole mess of EMS books for my reading pleasure! The first one I read was En Route: A Paramedic’s Stories of Life, Death, and Everything in Between by Kelly Grayson. I was unbelievably excited when I found out that he was from Louisiana (what can I say? I have a lot of love for fellow Louisianians!) so I looked him up online and came across his blog, A Day in the Life of an Ambulance Driver. This was my introduction to the EMS blogosphere. I’m not sure how the rest happened–I honestly don’t remember how I discovered other blogs such as Ms. Paramedic (another one from Louisiania, what?!) and The Happy Medic, but I’m guessing it was through JEMS’ facebook fan page (they often post links to blogs). Whatever happened, I now had a short list of blogs to keep up with, which made my liberal artist self very excited! I began to learn about all sorts of important issues in EMS, ranging in topic from ethics to policy to bettering patient care. I especially enjoy reading about things that I know about (for example, as a first responder, I am trained in CPR, so all of this hype about it going on right now is very interesting to me!), but I also enjoy reading about things that I don’t. For example, I am only a CFR–I am definitely not allowed to administer narcotics. But I really dig reading about the practice of it anyway–in fact, this guy tends to write a lot about pain management and I’ve enjoyed reading his articles about it. Find some of them here.
I also discovered that I was relating everything I knew to EMS. For example, in my psychopathology class last spring, we discussed the role of “psychological debriefing,” including a specific kind of PD directed at emergency workers called “Critical Incident Stress Debriefing” in potentially causing PTSD instead of preventing it as it was designed to do. I ended up doing my research proposal on this topic. (In fact, if I discover that working in the field as an EMT is not for me, there is always the possibility of conducting psychological research in issues related to EMS, such as this. I think I would like that very much. At least I have something to fall back on if this doesn’t work out yay!)
So now I know that I enjoyed CFR training and discussing EMS issues in an intellectual context, but I still don’t know what it’s really like to be an EMT or whether or not I would like it. So my next step was to begin doing ride-alongs in the ambulance to get a first-hand look at what EMTs actually do, how they interact with patients, etc. I contacted agencies around here and managed to schedule two ride-alongs this past summer. Though we only responded to one call on each shift (I believe Kelly Grayson calls this “White Cloud Syndrome”), the people at the second agency that I rode with were excellent preceptors and taught me a lot anyway. I hope to be riding along with them again in the near future!
And that’s currently where I’m at–I have my CFR card, I read books, I read blogs, I listen to podcasts, I observe in ambulances, and most importantly, I talk to people in the business. That’s probably my favorite thing in the world to do–you wouldn’t believe how nerdy/excited I get when I meet someone who is involved in EMS!! One of my good friends back home is a volunteer firefighter/first responder and I’m always pestering her with questions and whatnot. Another friend used to work as an EMT and I’ve also annoyed the poop out of her with my inquiries as well! Another good friend is a nursing student with whom I LOVE having conversations with about medical stuff. Also, during my recent study abroad trip I found out that my professor used to be an EMT, so we had a lovely long chat about that on a bus ride in somewhere in Slovakia!
So I guess you can say that’s another motivation for starting this blog–not just to share my thoughts about things from an unusual perspective, but really to make connections with others with similar interests so I can have MORE people to quench my EMS-related intellectual thirst!
And this is just the tip of the iceberg! I can’t wait until I’m in EMT training, then practicing BLS, then going to conferences and meet-ups and expos to learn even more, then possibly going to paramedic school, or nursing school, or who knows what?! My options are endless…..which is why I think I’ll like EMS. It’s a career that will allow me to challenge my brain in new ways and one in which I will always have to keep learning–that sounds like my kinda job! =)