Welcome to the Blackbelt Medic. This is the web home of Nathaniel Bland: Former Firefighter, Paramedic, EMS Educator, 2nd Degree Blackbelt, and student.
Being young in EMS is an interesting thing. You go through Paramedic school being called a “para-pup” or other such things and then, when you actually pass and get to the field, you are usually a young person to begin with coupled with no experience thinking and working at that level. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s how it works in everything: you start with no experience and gain some.
It’s talked about, looked down on by others, whispered about, and spoken about with distain by even senior EMT partners who talk about not letting some young para-god run their truck. TO be fair, I understand this attitude. Paramedic school has a way of sending you out thinking that you know a LOT and that you’re ready. You have the knowledge. You have the skills. You have the drugs. You’ve run hundreds of scenarios…thousands of test questions. You’ve got this on lockdown. Sure, inside you may be nervous as heck because you have never been the ONE in charge, but you still think you’ve got this. It’s a fine line of balance between egotism and self-confidence. With some this is egotism as a “para-god” when YOU know it ALL. You don’t. Some swing the other way and have fear that you’ll mess up. You probably won’t in the way you’re thinking of. The middle ground is self-confidence.
But we’re still young paramedics. As B.J. Honeycutt once said, “It’s ok, you’ll grow out of it.” Being a young paramedic is an opportunity to learn in ways you didn’t know you could. Internship is great and we soak in the information as much as we can while under our preceptors wing. However, you can’t take their years of experience and own that for yourself. You must get your own. Through that, you will learn yourself some valuable lessons.
Good day to everyone! It’s been a while since my last post, but life has been insane recently. I actually had to go back on here and read my last post so I would know what to tell everyone!
Since March of this year a lot has happened. Back then, I was looking at 3.5 weeks of the semester to go before the class side of paramedic was done. Now, I’m looking at about 3 weeks before internship is complete. While I can’t relax just yet, I have been reflecting on the past year of my life.
It’s hard to believe that in a week or so, it will have been one year since I began the UNM EMSA paramedic program. As I sit here, I can’t help but think about all that I’ve learned in that time. I went into the program expecting it to be hard and to learn a lot, and I have learned a LOT for sure. In many different areas, I’ve found EMS to be extremely exciting. From my 3-4 years of Fire back in California, I knew that I liked 911 and EMS specifically, but now having worked here in Albuquerque in 911 for about a year now, I have seen both sides now. Back home was a rural, wilderness response environment that had us sitting a lot and doing lots of training. Here in Albuquerque, we run a high call volume 911 system which keeps us pretty busy. It’s not unusual at all for me to run more calls in a day here than I did in a month back home. Now, that speaks to both the slow nature of my system back home, and the, at times, horrendous business of the system here. But let’s set that aside for the moment. I have gained more experience here in the last year, in terms of EMS, than I did in my entire time back at Lockwood. I will say, I feel like that has been great experience doing it at the same time as my paramedic training.
So of all the things I’ve done, classes I’ve taken, certifications I’ve worked for, and classes I’ve taught, by far the most challenging thing I’ve done has been paramedic school. We are by no means done, but as I look at the schedule posted on the wall next to me, I see that I have about 3.5 weeks of class left with new material. There’s 5.5 weeks of the semester left then finals week. During the last 1-2 weeks, we study for our comprehensive final. Whew!
I say this has been the most challenging, but not the hardest thing I’ve ever done, because of the myriad of ways that I’ve been challenged. The obvious one is the course work. There’s so much to learn, remember, and apply; so much that it seems overwhelming and huge, but everyone in my class has done it! We’ve survived the weekly exams, skills tests, quizzes, projects, drug sheets, discussion posts, and countless hours spent reading and studying. I’m not 100% sure how we did it, but it’s happened so far. The end is now in sight and we buckle down for the final stretch.
Wow, what a rush these first two weeks of medic school have been! It’s been this mixture of crazy amounts of work and sheer boredom to motivate myself to keep reading in yet another book about pathophysiology. Each week, I have ended up reading for about 10 hours on average and then on top of that are the hours I’ve spent studying what I’ve read, watching lectures, finishing assignments, 12 hours of lab each week, and teaching my own class. This is intense, but it is rewarding. Outside of my class work I do maintain a social life with my girlfriend, the amazing and wonderful woman that she is, who, incidentally, has also been helping me study pharmacology (THANK YOU! Do you have any idea what you’ve gotten into?).
There's also been time for great personal things. The picture on the left was a double date the included my favorite thing: My girlfriend, friends, cooking, cookies, and learning something new (Ice skating....covered below).
Now…some personal thoughts (Click "Read More"):
Week 1 wasn't horribly hard, but it was trying. This week was crazy with the amount of reading and watching I've done: hours and hours of watching videos and reading book chapters. I feel like I've learned a lot and come a good distance this week. Though, one class is giving me more trouble than the others.
I think the biggest thing has been self-discipline to do work each day. Even if it’s only 3 hours, as I’ve done that each day it has made the work be much more manageable. I’ve also found that breaks in the studying to do something different have really helped. After a few hours, I like to go to the gym and workout for an hour or so. Sometimes it’s hard to convince myself to go do it, but it keeps me healthy which is huge in this course! I refuse to get sick on my professors timeline of early December, so I’m keeping a proper diet and keeping up with exercise. (Click "Read More")
This past week has marked the transition from summer time into school time. This past summer has been interesting in many ways not the least of which has been the fact that it marked the first full year since I moved from California. Over this summer, I’ve had a chance to become more acquainted with the state of New Mexico and the new place I call home. I didn’t have a lot to do over the summer, but the things I did do included teaching at EMSA, reading for this class, and in general getting rest since I knew I would get less of it once this class began.
So, this article is, as the title suggests, kind of the first student-related post I’ve made. Even though my medic program doesn’t start until August, I can just easily rephrase that as, “my medic program starts next month.”
Let’s let that sink in for a bit….yeah….ugh. I’m excited to get this under way, but yet I can’t help but be nervous about the workload. I’ve heard horror stories about this. I’ve heard of marriages dissolving because of paramedic school. Well, I don’t have to worry about THAT specifically, but I’m still wondering how this is really going to feel. This is the reason I came to New Mexico and I’m giving this all I got. At the same time, I’m going to be honest here, I’ve met medics that make me think, “Well, if THEY can do I certainly ought to be able to!” That’s kind of harsh perhaps, but it’s what I got.
My name is Nathaniel. Or as the online name I've picked states, The Blackbelt Medic. It's a bit of a flash name I suppose, but when I was faced with having to pick a domain name and a name for this blog site I decided to pick two of my favorite things: karate and being an EMS provider. Despite the word "medic" in the name, I am not a paramedic yet. More on that later. I am however a 2nd degree blackbelt in Ko Sutemi Weisi Kan Karate. I first started in karate when I was about 8 years old back in late 1999 or 2000. I don't remember the exact date. The point of this site is to provide a slate for the coming years of my life. I have tried to blog before but lacked the motivation to keep up with it. That all recently changed.
I am currently living in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I attend the University of New Mexico. Go Lobos!! Woof woof woof....hehe. I am originally from California. Northern California. Small little town called Volcano, but these days I am a student with the UNM School of Medicine: Department of Emergency Medicine EMS Academy. I am pursuing the completion of my undergraduate degree in Emergency Medicine with a focus on Emergency Medical Services. The core of the degree in their Paramedic program. I was just accepted into the program after the application process which consisted of the application, two letters of recommendation, a entrance test, two interviews, and then waiting. Of course the waiting was the hardest part. I waited nearly 2 weeks from the time I knew they made admission decisions for my letter to arrive. I got it on 4/16/2014. I went for a walk about 11:30pm and ended up checking my mail to find a large manila envelope bearing the return address of the UNM School of Medicine. I grabbed it and felt more than one piece of paper; at this point I got really excited and opened it. I was accepted!