Rookie to Rookie


So I’ve officially been on the job four weeks now, which basically means I know everything. Just kidding! Piece of advice number one- you will NEVER know everything. But I have collected some tips for students just starting out or grads just getting hired on. Some of it was passed down from veterans, some of it is professional courtesy I learned in my previous careers, some things I’ve learned the hard way, and some are common sense- which I’ve learned is perhaps not so common.

Here goes:

1. Keep your mouth shut for the first year. Unless it endangers you or your patient.

2. Arrive 20 minutes early. Or you’re late.

3. You can’t kill patients by talking to them. Finished your history taking but still have a two hour transport? Try the FORD acronym. F- family, O-occupation, R-recreation, D-Dreams/Desires/Dogs (Pets). (Thanks John and Trav)

4. Find a veteran medic you trust/admire and proactively ask for feedback on calls. Compliments will boost your confidence; critique will improve your skill; taking your roll seriously shows initiative.

5. Avoid workplace politics. ATLEAST until after probation. Preferably forever.

6. Be the “you” you would want treating your favorite loved one, or showing up on the front of the newspaper. It can happen, and every patient you meet will be someone’s favorite person.

7. Got the chance to use the bathroom? Use the bathroom!

8. Got a chance to eat? EAT! (Learned the hard way: fainting from low sugar in the ER is one way to get a reputation.)

9. Always carry emergency snacks that boost energy/put you in a good mood (I carry chocolate bars, fruit chews, and cashews).

10. Drink LOTS of water. You will be both physically active and encountering lots of foreign germs/bacteria. Water of course is the best way to flush out toxins. Besides, dehydration can lead to fatigue. Multivitamins aren’t a bad idea either.

11. You will be a fresh ear for other employees to vent to. Be respectful, listen, pay attention to trends, but ultimately make your own opinions…and then keep them to yourself. See points 1 and 5.

12. Set two alarms until you get used to shift work. And maybe even after.

13. Always have a variety of clothing options available. It’s Canada dude.

14. If you think another medic did something awesome, they helped you out, or was exceptionally good with a patient- be sincere and tell them that you noticed. It’s good for morale and shows you are paying attention. (But mind the fine line of being a butt kisser. Nobody believes a butt kisser.)

15. It’s called symptom relief for a reason.

16. Admit when you don’t know something. Faking it is the same as lying. Be honest, then take the initiative to learn everything you can about whatever it was so it doesn’t happen again.


17. Wear a watch. Every day.

18. Volunteer. But not for everything. Work-life balance is really important, especially in such a demanding profession.

19. Back your personal vehicle in everywhere. Good practice for tight squeezes.

20. Be sickeningly polite. I believe that respect is implied, not earned. Trust however, is earned- including your patient’s.

21. Don’t horse around at base….at least until you figure out everyone’s boundaries really, really well.

22. If someone is bothering you, tell them, not everyone else. It’s part of being an adult.

23. Treat everything your service provides you (from your uniform, to your monitor, to your ambulance) like it is an amazing gift on loan. It’s easy to forget how spoiled we are as Canadians in comparison to most of the world’s medical resources.


24. When sh*t hits the fan….ABCCC’s. Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Care, and Conscience (which may be interpreted as an pun when appropriate).

25. Never leave your bags or your partner behind- In or Out of a call!

26. Had a bad call? It’s ok to call your Mom or Significant other at 4am. We’ve all done it. A support system is important to career longevity.

27. Remember the last sense that is lost is hearing, even in unconscious patients.

28. Never stop studying. Even if you hate your job, your boss, your life- your patient deserves your best effort and care. If you ever disagree- quit.

29. In regards to documentation: read as many other people’s PCR’s as you can, then take the best parts of each and develop your own style. Also, have a detailed conversation with the person who audits said PCR’s. I’m still writing mine on a scrap paper first. (Thanks Chris and Ryan!)

30. And finally, be like a duck…



This is how I feel ^^

Anything to add???

Good luck,



4 thoughts on “Rookie to Rookie

  1. Sounds like great advice. Obviously, there is learning curve experience and a lot of thought in this article. I especially like #30. Keep up the great work. Jennie

  2. Hey Junks

    I really enjoy reading your blog entries. I have found several different topics to be quite interesting but this in particular I feel like lots of rookies aka newbies should read.
    First off, trust me I know how nerve racking it can be to start your first job, go to your first real call with only you and your partner. So if my upcoming comments sound like I am a opinionated, grump; I am not. I love this job, I have found though some people have a little too much entitlement.

    First off if your brand new to this gig… Just remember a quiet rookie is the best rookie! Ha ha just kidding, it’s maybe not that extreme but just remember your place. We have all been there, it’s not about the senior people being assholes. It’s about the fact that the A-type personalities in EMS clash a lot and until you earn your place… I suspect you’ll clash.

    I was going to list all the rules you came up with that I thought were paramount for newbies to read. But I don’t like typing that much ha ha.
    However, #22 I thought was quite good. I would say the majority of misunderstandings are based off miscommunication. If people in EMS would just grow up and talk like adults then maybe we could avoid a lot of animosity. With that being said, one can never truly get away from gossip, just seems to me EMS is particularly bad for it. OH and also, EMS is a very small world careful who you bash!
    #24 – MAY POSSIBLY BE THE BEST ONE. Stop, use your F$@king head and show some composure. Ha ha sounds a little harsh and trust me the first pediatric code or severe trauma it will be hard to think straight. Well at least it was for me, but remember you’re the PRO, need to act like it.

    Anyways, I could go on and on, I hate new people who think they know it all and I hate the old bastards who think every new person sucks at their job. So people lets keep a nice even ground and remember there will always be someone better, stronger, smarter and more senior to you. Don’t forget we all started somewhere….

    • Obviously none of these comments of mine were directly meant towards you! I just wanted to make that clear. I appreciate the fact that you “get” the way it works. You are a great fit for the industry!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s