So when we last visited, finals days were upon us, I had just failed dynamic cardiology and restrained myself from slapping Loud Annoying Guy for minimizing my failure.
The fun just never stops, does it?
I should actually title this, part 3, as "Advanced Base Camp" or ABC. For those of you who have actually watched the Everest adventures, ABC is where you go to prep. To acclimate. The zone between Base Camp and The Real Deal.
So let's be frank, I was freaked at this point. The dang AHA algorithms and charts were a blur, and failed me when I needed them most. I really did try to use them, the ones from the book, the ones from the pamphlets, but they just did not work for me. So I did what one of the instructors suggested, I made my own.
All of their suggestions sound so simple, but until you feel entirely screwed you really don't take them to heart. These two things saved me.
Visualization = sitting there with earplugs, miming the motions of a skill, reciting the plan to myself over and over again
Make your own flow charts (drug cards, mnemonics, etc.) = making the information your own. Yes, it takes time, yes it's going to make you want to cry. But I had my binder of 5x7 index cards with me and I regretted none of the work I put into it. Put it into your own words so you can understand it yourself.
I didn't sleep much those last days of ABC, worrying more about the performance in the skills examinations than I ever have over any test. I was not worried about the written test. Everyone else seemed to be, but I was pretty confident that I would at least pass.
Passed all my NREMT stations.
Kicked ass on the written.
Oh, and Loud Annoying Guy? Failed the written (tee hee). I shouldn't be so smug, but, well, I am.
We had a bit of a graduation ceremony to look forward to on the last night. I was informed that myself and another student were co-valedictorians of the entire class. Turns out when all the grades and other results were tallied, we were less than 0.1% apart. (He broached the question of who was first, though I wanted to know as well, "Ambulance Ranger got the higher score" Man, am I awesome.) Here I was, just days before, thinking about walking away. I'm not mad I thought about it, in fact, I needed a kick in the ass to really work on what I needed. When you spend your days doing another job -- not caring for patients but working on a desk, driving a forklift, whatever -- you tend to lose a lot in translation. I'm not practicing skills every day like a shift EMT. It takes more for me to get my act together and visualize the things I am not exposed to on a daily basis. (That said, I would not trade my version of EMS for yours.)
We had our graduation ceremony. We all talked about how far we had come from day one and all of that. We co-valedictorians gave our little speeches. We drank, ate cake, enjoyed the moment. We cheered the two students who didn't pass. Two who if they wanted to do the program would have to do the ENTIRE program again. They showed up anyway, and we cheered for them both. Their coursework was sub-par, they didn't perform at Base Camp, they didn't pass the final written. They weren't passed just for showing up. This is what our EMS education needs to be.
The lead instructor had two of the students in our class stand up. These were two who had done the same. They weren't in the right head space, had problems, been "flunked out" of previous classes. They came back to become part of our class and did well. We cheered them all.
It was after all of this, then, and only then did our lead instructor decide to make the statement, "All right. Congratulations. You are a third of the way there."
We had all thought about clinical and field rotations. They were in the brochure, after all. We needed a minimum of 250 hours in the hospital, 250 in the field. No worries. We can get it done. It's this whole semester of A&P, and the 10 months solid of coursework we need to get through. The rest will be cake!
Not so much.