Professional Development: EMT Certification

Michael Liesen


Artistic and Creative Endeavors, Professional Development


  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.


As a pre-medical student my project was under the artistic and creative endeavors sub topic of professional development. I took an intensive 10 credit hour emergency medical technician course with combined laboratory and lecture at College of Dupage to get a certification. This included a clinical portion working in a hospital emergency room at Edward Hospital.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?


I gained a better understanding of our medical system and a much deeper understanding of the emergency side of medicine. I gained valuable experience working as an emergency room technician during the clinical portion of my class. I understand more of what it will take to achieve my goal of working in medicine and a more realistic view of what it means to achieve this goal.


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?


The largest portion of my experience was the in class time spent every week three days a week for six and a half hours. We were separated into “crews” on the first days with five people on each crew. We grew very close throughout the summer. Two were similar to me, in college home for the summer with plans of going to medical school. Another was an ex-marine who planned on becoming a paramedic and a firefighter. The last was a former chef 34 year old who planned on applying to Physician Assistant School. We were taught by three paramedic instructors Joe, Steve and Amy each bringing us very different styles of teaching and care giving. The class was made of only 5 crews and we were given a lot of individual time with these instructors. Joe seemed to focus on the medical side of care-giving, being a critical care paramedic and a lot of experience with a wide variety of medical scenarios. Amy was a fire fighter above all else and was focused on the technical side of every subject and scenario when teaching. Steve was very patient focused humanizing every aspect with what we’re doing and was especially helpful during the psych unit with a reputation among other paramedics for being particularly good at handling psych calls without needing to restrain the patient. These perspectives helped make our education more complete and our training more worthwhile and helpful for when we had to apply it.

We were assessed every week on different aspects of emergency medicine ranging from anatomy and CPR to proper ways to clean an ambulance. We were given a multiple choice written test and then five practical tests each week. The practicals were usually scenarios in which each of the crew took different roles from the medical lead to the patient. We learned proper assessment skills for medical and trauma assessments of patients and proper lifting maneuvers to move critical patients. Taking vitals was a very basic skill and part of every single practical that was completed. We learned what these readings meant and which were a cause for concern and which allowed us more time assessing before transporting the patient. Transporting was always the end goal and we quickly learned how to move patients and stabilize quickly in order to minimize discomfort and protect their well-being. All of the practicals and knowledge was put to the test towards the end of the class.

Near the end of the class our knowledge was used during our clinical one of the most valuable parts of this experience to me in professional development. We had to spend 16 hours of time in an emergency room with the duties of an emergency room technician in order to complete the class. We had a list of skills that we needed to use or observe in order to pass the clinical and were reviewed by either the nursing staff we worked with or an emergency room technician. I was able to pass this portion with positive reviews by using my training and listening to the more experienced health care professionals around me. I observed and participated in stabilizing a patient who had an aneurysm on my first shift and on my final a cancer patient coding. In-between I saw the variety of patients who entered the ER from a man with a splinter in his foot to unstable psych patients under 24 hour watch. This showed exactly how crazy and how normal things can get in this profession and my passing through helped give me the confidence to carry on trying to enter it now that I have experience in it.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? 


Experience is hard to come by for a pre-medical student. Much of the work we do is important and academic in nature but does very little to prepare us for the rigors of treating real people who are in pain or dying. I now have, if nothing else, a small amount of experience in this area, treating patients in this regard. While I am still nowhere near experienced enough to completely understand the future rigors I hope to go through I do understand them better. After going through all this over the summer I have ended with something to show for it. I have a certificate qualifying me as an Emergency Medical Technician graduating from the program with high honors. Beyond all the practical knowledge and experience this program has given me I now have the qualifications to work at this entry level position in the medical field.