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Age .. is it really THAT important?

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How many times have I posted my position that constructive criticism is to the effect of saying "You are

wrong, because...", and list specifics that are correctable, as opposed to full out putdowns, like, "You are

wrong, because you are a jerk", or similar?

In other words, the correct response would be, "You are wrong, and you are a jerk."

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Here's a disclaimer before I get started...

Believe me when I say that I have the utmost respect for age and life experience. There are things that an individual learns simply by existing on this big rock we call home... things that one cannot really comprehend until one also reaches that age.

However! (Knew that was coming by this point, didn't ya... because you're all older than me...)

Age and life experience may sometimes hinder someone by cementing them into their preconceptions and patterns. I believe firmly that this is why it is so damn difficult to get older medics to change their treatments or their ways of thinking about things. There are many who stubbornly cling to "we've done it this way and I know this way works" and we've all complained about them at some point. Tell me I'm wrong here.

Let's look at the example of dealing with someone who is transitioning between genders, as a starting point... this concept is very foreign to anyone over the age of 40. It just wasn't something that happened, and anyone who did this procedure was automatically labeled as a freak and ostracized from normal society. In my generation it is a much less foreign concept... many of us know people who are undergoing transition, or know others who do. It is still viewed as different, but it is much more accepted.

Tell me that the 55 y/o medic, married for 30 years, straight as an arrow, will be able to relate to the gender-transitioning patient better than a 25 year old medic who went to a nice liberal college?

The point I'm trying to make here is that it is not necessarily the number of minutes in someone's existence that magically confers the ability to relate to patients on the interpersonal level and provide not only medically savvy care, but good emotional care as well... it is the perspective of the individual involved and the effort they put forth in trying to relate. Sure, I can't relate to an older lady as mother-to-mother... but I can relate as woman-to-woman and younger-woman-to-older-woman. I can make my best attempt to put myself into her shoes, and better yet--she can teach me something that I don't already know!

Also, not everyone's life experience is equivalent. I would venture to say that I know some younger individuals with much more significant experiences and insight than people two or three times their age... just because they're still in their twenties doesn't mean that they don't have relevant life experience. Conversely, there are some older folks who have absorbed and learned NOTHING... who really don't know how to communicate. Some of them are in EMS.

Let the smack-downs because I'm only 22 begin...



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I believe your theory is right on, Wendy. Although I think you may be blurring the lines between "experience" and "perspective". While the former contributes to the latter, they are not the same thing.

But this is really an illustration of why the minimally prepared entry level provider would ideally have a solid educational foundation that included such subjects as Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy, Anthropology, Political Science, and of course, Speech Communications. This brings us all together on the same page with similar information from which to informedly and intelligently form our perspective, regardless of age. And this is also why tech-school grads, without such a foundation, will be WAY down low on the list of people I would hire.

You can be an excellent, competent practitioner, regardless of age. You cannot be an excellent, competent practitioner regardless of education.

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Exactly. Right along the same lines as "Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." Simply doing the same old wrong things for a lifetime does not give you wisdom.

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