Yesterday, I went to the theatre.
Today, I did some study.
The connection? I read an article about “Becoming professional in the 21st century|. It is written that:
“Health care professionals of the 21st century cannot afford to be technically competent only; they need to be competent in social and communicative aspects of practice”.
This was said in a context of mainly communicating with the patient, but I would take it one step further: it is important for the profession; I would go as far as saying vital for an emerging profession (such as paramedicine) that members of the profession communicate and promote themselves as professionals to the public. Making a good impression (through proper treatment) on each individual patient is important, but equally important is to reach out to our “potential” clients. The public must know we take pride in our profession, study hard, work hard, can deal with a variety of situations and are becoming an integral part of healthcare, rather than just a transport adjunct to the hospital.
So, Yesterday? Yesterday, I went to the theatre to see a (possibly the worlds first) play based on a paramedic blog – namely InsomniacMedic himself. I can really recommend going if you are anywhere near London in the next few days. There are still tickets available…just go. After the play there was a Q&A session, so I asked the cast what knowledge they had of “our world” prior to having a role in this play, and then how playing a role had changed their perceptions. The answers were interesting: Most hadn’t had any contact with the ambulance service at all before and regarded the big yellow vans as part of the city landscape. One actor that had been a patient fairly recently stated that after a few panicked minutes, the attending crew managed to calm her down, make her comfortable and take her in to hospital for further treatment; she was impressed with the ‘ambulance drivers’ (followed by a palpable wince amongst the paramedics in the audience).
Only after they had been accepted for the role in the play did they start doing their research, and realise the world we work in. The lead actor said he started turning around, watching after ambulances passing him on the street. If he saw the paramedics attending the job near him, he would observe their actions from a distance (what he stated as “feeling weird, a little voyeuristic, kind of wrong but highly interesting”). Playing the roles of the different paramedics, the cast could immerse themselves in to the lives of paramedics, both professionally and personally; only then (and with the great help of the blog authors former student who was in charge of clinical oversight of the play) did they realise what our world is made up of.
I found this rather interesting, and it highlighted a point that many of us like to forget: the great majority of the public don’t know or sometimes even care about us – until they need us. If we want to improve our standing within the population, we need to have a stronger presence within the mind of the population. And that must come from each and every one of us, reaching out not only to those that are in need of our assistance, but to those who may need our assistance in the future. Everyone.