Empathy (Compassion)

Empathy (Compassion)

December 23, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

As we conclude Pharmacy Phriday for 2022, we offer a reprise of an article from the close of last year. It is well worth our consideration as we begin another year of care for our patients.

One of the most powerful drugs in your repertoire has been effectively utilized by EMS providers since people began caring for the sick and injured. But before we get to that, it’s important to consider that EMS providers have a job like no other. What other home service involves the public inviting complete strangers into their home with no introduction, appointment, or check of credentials? What other medical occupation allows agencies like yours to carry and administer prescription medications without a prescription? It is clear that trust and professionalism are the keys to making our job effective, and empathy strengthens both of them.

For instance, a patient that fears needles must trust you, and empathy can help convince them you know what you are doing. EMS providers have numerous skills and tools to save lives, and a big challenge is being able to properly pick which ones to use on which patients. This usually involves reviewing a patient’s medical history or mechanism of injury, understanding the signs and symptoms we discover, and entering all that information into a clinical decision-making process which helps us identify immediate life threats and appropriate treatment plans. Sometimes the most effective treatment involves performing synchronized cardioversion at 0.5 J/kg, administering 300 mg of Amiodarone, or the application of a traction splint. Other times, it’s best treated with active listening and simply holding a hand. The best providers can properly identify when each is appropriate.

It’s been said that many of the people you treat won’t remember if you got the IV on the first try or how skilled you were. But they will remember if you were nice. After another trying year for EMS, know that the service you provide is vital and appreciated. Trust and professionalism are required more than ever, and empathy is still an effective tool. Happy New Year.

As we look to 2023, we encourage you to contact the EMS Institute with ideas for future topics in this or other continuing education programs. And as always……STAY SAFE!


The UH EMS-I Team

University Hospitals