I stopped pursuing a career as a Paramedic primarily because I was losing my compassion. It was scary. The daily stress got to me in an insidious way that I wasn’t prepared for. The story I told myself was that I was saving lives. But I found that I was starting to not care for my patients. There was no sense of ‘we’re in this together’ in my job.
When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Even the things that you probably shouldn’t be whacking at. And when you’re a medic, you constantly look for someone’s problem. Pretty soon you don’t see a person, you just see their problem and you identify them that way. You identify them as a separate from you and as an issue to resolve. But looking at people and only seeing problems is not healthy. The patient can sense that you’ve disengaged your ‘caring’ mode, and you as a provider can feel the emotional callus forming.
I’d rather look at someone and see them as a person. I’d rather see them as a builder, or a farmer. See them as having a life and family and a busy, complex character.
As a Paramedic I reduced myself to my utility and I reduced others to their problems. As a coach and gym owner on Vashon, I am elevated by our collective effort to connect.