I recently read an article over at EMS World titled Which Paramedic Type Are You? The author, Hidekatsu Kajitani, lays out a very simple method of measurement for type specifying Paramedics with both Paramedic Skills and Social Skills rated as either Good or Poor. It’s a simple enough method, and as a proponent of the KISS methodology I appreciate the ease of comprehension.
However, later in the article he makes this statement:
There is no doubt our patients will prefer Type II paramedics because of their good skill as paramedics.
Yeah… not so fast. I doubt the validity of that statement very much. The author defines a Type II Paramedic as one with Poor Social Skills and Good Paramedic Skills. Perhaps doubt isn’t a strong enough word… I challenge the validity of that statement.
The patient, unless they are trained in the medical field themselves, does not know good patient treatments from bad patient treatments. They know nice and not nice. They don’t know whether the paramedic was skilled in his assessment, proficient in reading the results of an ECG, and provided treatment according to protocol. They know whether the paramedic was respectful, helpful, compassionate, and kind. The patient isn’t going to know whether or not the Paramedic missed the tube, because in all likelihood they’d be unconscious. In order to understand what a patient wants, we need to view it from their perspective which I think the original author completely missed.
To verify my hunch I looked back over the last 100 actual patient complaints I had access to, excluding QA/QI issues that were not generated from the patient’s perspective. Out of that 100 there were 87 of them (or 87%) that focused on rudeness, unhelpfulness, or a perceived lack of compassion. There were another 10 that were driving related and the final 3 had to do with lateness.
Therefore I would dare say that the patient would prefer to be treated by what the author classifies as a Type III Paramedic (Good Social Skills, Poor Paramedic Skills). The author also makes a note that it is this type of Paramedic that EMTs prefer to work with, and that we should not be confusing Good Paramedic Skills with Good Social Skills.
I’m also going to challenge that assessment. If we are going to classify the ability to assess and provide treatment as the only skills needed to become a Paramedic, then we are severely handicapping ourselves into a worse corner than we already are. We need to view good social skills, critical thinking, and decision making skills to the same level as the ability to assess and provide treatment. They are ALL Paramedic Skills. Therefore, a Paramedic with Poor Social Skills also has Poor Paramedic Skills according to the original author’s typing system.
The challenge we have is being able to provide our Paramedics with that full scope of abilities. Our educational standards focus on assessment and treatment, but these other areas are just as important especially if we are going to look to advancing the profession beyond where we are now into an EMS 2.0 world.
So, which type of Paramedic do you think your patient wants?