One of the areas of EMS I have long been highly critical of is EMS education. As someone who both interviews and trains new EMTs for my agencies, I am often left wondering what exactly it is that they do in those classes. Admittedly, I thought that this was an issue with EMS education in general.
Two weeks ago I found a flyer on my desk for the National Association of EMS Educator’s Instructor Course being held in Brooklyn. It was a bit of a scramble, both for the time off and for the funds, but I was able to pull it all together last week so that I was able to attend this 3-Day session.
My motivation to attend was two fold. First, this course would cover you in New York State for the didactic requirements of becoming a Certified Lab Instructor (CLI) AND a Certified Instructor Coordinator (CIC). Finding courses for either can be challenging, difficult, and just downright inconvenient… especially since most won’t let you sit for the CIC portion unless you were already a CLI. Second, being a CLI or a CIC affords me the opportunity to become part of the solution, if I can develop the right mindset from jump, then that makes my job today much easier as far as interviewing and training. While I could remain part of the problem as a critic of EMS education, well how productive would that truly be?
Now I will be absolutely and totally honest, I expected this class to be in a long tabled stadium style lecture hall. I expected the Power Point to be horrendous. I expected to need the assistance of caffeine to stay awake. I expected to go home every night and memorize a truck ton of definitions. Needless to say, the course was not what I expected.
The entire course has a very “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” theme. I had an idea that part of it may be themed from the online portion of the course where I was assigned to group “Happy“, but I didn’t realize just how integrated this theme would be. Seating assignments were divided by group, and each table identified through both a placard and a doll of your namesake dwarf. In addition, each group had an “equipment” box filled with different items to be utilized through the class. In the first session, each group member was assigned a job to perform that was outlined on a card found in the box. Obviously this was not your typical physician directed course.
Without giving too much away, the course (led by Dr. Chris Nollette) provides a better understanding of the different types of learners, different learning processes, and highlights techniques that address the variety of these in the classroom. In addition, throughout the course, it literally practiced what it was preaching. Therefore instead of just hearing how well groups work in a class room setting, you experienced it yourself. There were a number of engaging activities that at times reminded me of leadership training programs I had been through previously, but definitely built a certain level of camaraderie amongst the groups in a short time.
This live demonstration of the effectiveness of its practices was highlighted for me personally when my “Celebration of Learning” (aka the Test) was scored, and I amazingly got a 94%. Although they don’t tell you what you got wrong, I’d be willing to be the three I got wrong were the three answers I changed.
My one major critique about the course would be the under utilized online component. Because I registered late I got my username and password a full three days before the class start, as opposed to the three weeks you should have, I was a little bit under the gun. I did complete all 22 objectives before walking into class that day, but there were some things that in my opinion could have been communicated through the online forums (such as the location of the class, availability of parking, etc.). I also would have hoped that there would have been use of the system AFTER the class, such as for sharing ideas, files, and content that was course inspired… but there was no mention of that.
I don’t normally recommend continuing education courses (because usually they’re boring as all hell) but this is a course that I can indeed recommend you to take, whether you are interested in becoming an instructor or are already an instructor. Here’s a video that gives you a glimpse into why you’ll find the course helpful:
Overall it was definitely worth the time, money, and effort to attend and I look forward to taking the Level 2 course come this fall.