Nutrition Sciences Major Explores Classmates’ Passions for Paramedicine
Beatrice Glaviano ’26 is enjoying the EMT course she’s taking this semester and it inspired her to ask her classmates why they are passionate about their majors.
October 13, 2023
By Beatrice Glaviano ’26
“Are you feeling very AVPU right now?”
“Oh, bro, I’m feeling *so* AVPU right now.”
For those who are wondering what the heck “AVPU” is, it does not, in fact, stand for “Airborne Vehicles Progress Upward” but “Alert, Verbal Stimulus, Painful Stimulus, [or] Unresponsive” and is used during an EMT’s primary patient assessment.
When one thinks of emergency medicine, their mind often goes immediately to lights, sirens, the sight of an ambulance or squad car, and maybe some blood (I see you, forensics), and that’s not entirely wrong. Living in a day and age where accessibility to guns, illicit drugs, and similar items capable of causing bodily harm is relatively quote-unquote “easy,” it’s not a huge surprise that we hear those sirens or stories on the news.
However, emergency medicine is more than the stories in which it’s often discussed. Not only are there multiple professions, but there are multiple levels to those professions. A good example of this would be the difference between the average EMT vs. paramedic. EMTs, while a step-up from your EMR (Emergency Medical Responder), are capable of giving only some medications while paramedics are trained to give intravenous medication to their patients, whether they are trauma or medical. These slight contrasts in skills take years to acquire, and the experience to do them well, perhaps, even more.
About a week and half ago, I asked one of my friends: “Why are you passionate about your major?” (In reference to paramedicine). Oddly enough, it had been something that had never occurred to me to ask before.
He looked at me, and it wasn’t just that casual, “Oh, I just really like the subject” type of look either.
No, his eyes lit up as if someone had struck a match into them, and I suddenly had a greater understanding that the difference between passion and addiction was the same thing as wondering what fire felt like or reaching your hand out to let it burn you.
“There is no other feeling than the one you feel when you bring someone back to life,” he told me, and that lived in my head for the next couple of days.
Granted, maybe there’s a type of god-complex to pick away at and I probably shouldn’t have felt my pupils dilate as much as they did, but here we are. After this happened, I became rather curious as to why my classmates had chosen the career paths that they did, so I did a little interview with them.
Please note that all of the individuals were not forced to take part in this interview/survey but that they did it out of their own free, swag-college-student will.
With that, let’s dive in.
Why did you decide to take EMT I or join the Paramedicine Program? What influenced your decision?
Jason: “Really it’s a strong mix. I grew up around EMS. I love adrenaline. I can’t stand desk work. Coming from a broken background, the only family tradition we really have is working EMS or trades, and on top of that it’s kind of something of a calling.”
PJ: “Wanted an adrenaline-filled job as well as a job that allows me to make an impact in a person’s life.”
Nox: “I want to have a medical career and felt that EMT 1 would give me exposure in a way so hadn’t had before”
Taelia: “I wanted to gain a higher degree of education while pursuing an emergency medical career.”
What is your favorite part about the class? Why?
Jason: “I’m finally doing something I’m passionate about instead of just wasting away in a class I’m not interested in. The change of pace is motivating, and my dreams are becoming tangible.”
PJ: “The people, obviously.”
Nox: “I like that we do both hands-on and cognitive learning.”
Taelia: “I like the people and knowing that these are the people I will be around and learn with for the next couple of years.”
Favorite thing so far?
Jason: “I like all the practical components we have started doing. Also I like the vibe of the class, most of us seem to get along well.”
Nox: “Hands-on skills, a sense of community.”
Taelia: “Learning how to do blood pressures and assessments.”
What is the hardest thing you believe you will encounter as an EMT? Any reason why?
Jason: “I think the hardest thing we’ll deal with is what we don’t expect. You can somewhat prepare for death I think, but it’s the little things that we won’t be taught that I believe will really impact us up if we let it.”
PJ: “Suicide /personal issues”
Nox: “Mental health patients, as protocols might not be very therapeutic or trauma informed.”
Taelia: “The hardest case I will probably encounter would be dealing with kids and families, especially if there isn't a very good outcome.”
Where do you see yourself in the future with this program?
Jason: “I’m going to be here for five years, and right after graduation I’ll be applying to every city I can. Really looking at New York, New Haven, Guilford, Conn., and possibly Charlotte. Who knows?!”
PJ: “Completing it fully and continuing in the medical field.”
Nox: “Depending on other factors, potentially switching majors.”
Taelia: “Graduating with a paramedicine degree and going to work either with the fire services as a firefighter/paramedic or pursuing the SWAT medic career.”
Three fun facts about you!
Jason: “I’m a photographer. One of my favorite feelings is when you hear your favorite song for the first time, and my favorite color is black.”
PJ: “I’m a florist. I love spooky season. I’m a big movie guy.”
Nox: “I crochet! My service dog’s name is Paloma! I can do all three splits (left, right, middle).”
Taelia: “I do archery, and I love video games and art. I have written multiple stories and been published twice.”
For me, being a part of EMT I has shown me how important trust, communication, and friendship is within the medical field. It’s also shown how important interpersonal skills are as well, especially when it comes to patient contact. However, on the flip side, there is definitely something addicting about being on this side of medicine. Nothing compares to applying knowledge in split seconds in a high-pressure situation in comparison to just “needing” to know it in order to pass a test (application of knowledge and knowledge itself are two different things, essentially).
Of course, you get to save lives, but I also believe there is a certain degree of saving your own. A very instinctive, and integral part of human nature is to help other humans. It’s something that’s been ingrained in us for as long as we can remember. Yet, another very integral part of human nature is ourselves. We are self-serving, egotistical, and in constant pursuit of euphoria in whatever way, shape, or form we deem most suiting for our personal wants. In the case of being an EMT, nothing quite beats the rush. And it’s weird, because I’ve never been on a call (or ride) before, but it’s rather easy to imagine it when someone recounts story after story about it. It’s crazy, in a way, but I can definitely see how people get hooked.
On that note, I also interviewed my instructor, Victoria Benoit. Not only is Professor Benoit patient and encourages students to remain inquisitive, she also creates an environment in which students can grow among their peers. With that, here are a few of her responses:
Why did you decide to pursue a career in emergency medicine/paramedicine?
“The short answer is I took an EMT class at 18 and was hooked!”
What is your favorite part about being an instructor? Least favorite?
“Least favorite is the grades and paperwork. I love sharing and practicing and discussing the work, but like any job the paperwork is tedious.”
What is one of the hardest things that you have encountered in your field? Why?
“I’m not sure there’s one hard thing. Early on I struggled as a young woman in a mostly male field. Now I think it’s not being a medic. That’s my next challenge, to improve my knowledge base and get my medic license.”
Best advice for new EMTs? (This could be anything).
“Best advice for new EMTs is don’t be afraid to try. You may fail 100 times before you get it right, but you will be so much better for it. Also ask questions of everyone. Take a little of one person and a little of another person to become an awesome practitioner.”
What is something about EMS that you wish people knew more of and acknowledged more?
“I wish I could share how much fun and exciting it is to be in EMS. There’s something new and different every day and every call. It may be the best job in medicine and public safety.”
Fun fact about you!
“I went to school originally to be a marine biologist. EMT class changed all that.”
So, we have marine biology to emergency medicine. That’s quite the leap, isn’t it? Being in a major not remotely related to Paramedicine itself, I am currently looking at double-majoring (against all odds, lol). For those who don’t know, aside from being pre-med, I am also a part of the Honors program, as well as the Delta Alpha Phi Honors Society. Essentially, if I made the transition, there would be no going back and probably a lot of sleepless, grumpily-spent nights with too much coffee and biscotti.
But...isn’t that what life is about, at least a little bit? What I’ve learned over the course of my (pretty short) life is that nothing worth being passionate about comes easy – not entirely. The things you love, whether it be people, places, things, activities, are supposed to challenge you in order to let you grow into yourself and who you’re meant to be.
Pre-med has always been a challenge, but what really made the difference was how I thought about myself. Did I believe I was worthy of my major? Did I believe that I could get the work done? All of this plays a role, as well as how you treat yourself verbally, physically, socially, and emotionally. I was on the phone with a friend the other night, and they told me that I have grown in the sense that I allow grace for myself, which changed everything for me as a student. So, I suppose, wherever the heck I end up in life, it’s there to either challenge me or is a result of me being challenged.
Though, if we’re going back to emergency medicine, I have no clue how I’ll deal with my first death on call. If there is any challenge for me, I know that one of them will be accepting that I don’t have control over life or death. I’ll have a say in it for a moment, but I’m just a human being. That’s not something I am meant to decide.
So, I guess we’ll have to see.
On that note, I hope everyone is having a fabulous October so far and that midterms are going well.