Becoming an EMT lead me to Medical School.
Updated: Apr 28
Ever since I was 5 years old, when asked the infumous question, ”What do you want to do when you grow up?”, I always answered a doctor. An animal doctor that is. I even dressed up as one for Halloween. Okay, maybe it was a nurse costume, but close enough.
However, at some point during my childhood I decided, I didn’t want to be a veterinarian anymore. Instead, I wanted to be a human doctor. From then on, my whole goal has been to become a human doctor.
Starting my first year of college, as a pre-med Biology major, I knew I was on my way to becoming a doctor. I was ecstatic to start my career. Then, one of my professors asked, “ With a raise of hands, who wants to go to medical school?”. I looked around the room. Everyone raised their hands. I was flabbergasted. I wasn’t unique. How was I going to compete with all these people, if we all have the same education? I didn’t know what to do. Until my dad and I headed to Florida on the Amtrak. On the Amtrak, for dinner, you're seated with strangers. Luckily for me, a stranger who sat in front of me would help me realize my next step. I don’t remember his name and barely his face, but what I do remember was his encouragement in continuing to pursue medicine. He said he was in medical school and was an art major in college. “An art major? That’s insane”, I thought. Though, I know now you can be any major in college and still go to medical school. As you can still have their desired prerequisites aka pre-med. Then, I was astonished. How could he be an art major and still go to medical school? After all, medical schools actually want people with different backgrounds.
What he said next truly changed my life. He said he became an EMT to really know if he could be a doctor. If he could handle blood and high-stakes situations. Up to this point I had never considered if I would be good at it or could handle the pressure. He went on to say, “What if I hate it? I rather know now then find out in medical school or once I'm a doctor and waste all my time and energy?”. Yet again, he was right. I never considered what if I hated everything about it. Would I be willing to sacrifice all my time to something I ended up hating? Truly, I’m grateful to him whoever and wherever he may be. After dinner, we thanked him and said, “Have a great trip.”
With that in mind. I started researching volunteer ambulances around me. I found one about 10 minutes away taking new members. I interviewed and was accepted. I was the CPR person on the crew. I was surrounded by EMTs, paramedics, and ambulance drivers from all walks of life. From doctors, college students, medical and nursing students, firefighters, and more. They taught me the ins and outs of the ambulance, how to speak on the radio, write PCRs, the proper way to use the stretcher, and speak to patients. I even remembered being really fascinated by the ambulance so I came early each shift to go through each item and asked people questions about when and how I would I need to use the equipment.
I was hooked!
So, I went to EMT school every Monday and Wednesday night from 7pm-10pm after college classes. Thankfully was paid by the volunteer ambulance. I learned so much. Things I never would have in college. I learned about protocols, medications, various maneuvers to help the patient feel comfortable, and much more. If I didn’t fully know I wanted to be a doctor before. I knew after I became an EMT.
Once, I received my EMT license I was the EMT on call. I called the shouts, if you will, regarding my patient. I will never forget my first call as an EMT. Nervous, thinking about all that could be wrong, grabbing everything I may need, who will be there?, and what I would ask for. I remember the patient so vividly. We were greeted by the patient's spouse who directed me to them. I saw a pool of blood. I froze for a moment. The driver looked at me and said, “What’s next? What do you want me to do?” I snapped out of it and followed my training. ABCs, find the source, stop the bleeding, call for ALS (Advance Live Support), etc. Even though, I handed my patient to ALS I was there all the way supporting ALS. Spiking the bag, helping with IV insertion, and talking to the patient through it all. When we arrived at the hospital their spouse looked at me distraught, but filled with much gratitude, “ Thank You so much.” Those words made me realize I was in the right place. Still to this day brings tears to my eyes when I remember.
I continued to volunteer and eventually worked as an EMT including other medical jobs before medical school. I have seen so many things as an EMT. Continuing to remind me why I’m pursuing to become a doctor. Though I haven’t been in an ambulance for 3 years because of medical school. I know when it comes to talking to patients in clinical rotations I’ll be able to bring my experience with me and hopefully make them feel comfortable and at ease. Learning to be a doctor I have realized there’s a different way of thinking, but I hope to never forget to normalize listening and holding someone's hand as a form of medicine. There‘s so much more to gain when you can help someone relax their anxiety than asking a multitude of questions at once.
What do you want to be when you grow up? A compassionate doctor.