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Compassion? EMT Supervisor disagrees.

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Let me start by saying: I’m a private EMT at a local Casino. I report to my EMT Supervisor and the Casino Management. (As well as workplace Compliance and Casino Surveillance)

I have encountered a problem. My EMT Supervisor had said I was being compassionate to the patients. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. “That’s the job”, “That’s what we learned.” Obviously these are my thoughts exactly. However, to my supervisor, that’s not the case.

Normally I do not dwell on workplace rumors about my capabilities but this one put me in a place of constant self-questioning. 

How is being compassionate not something you want in an EMT? And how does this make me less of one? I don’t understand this and surely I hope you don’t either. 

I guess what I’m trying to ask is, have you come across this in your workplace? And how should I respond to this? (In all EMS -Private or Public) 

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You need a sit down with your supervisor to find out just what he means by "being compassionate".  if he thinks that you are spending too much time talking to them and being their buddy or does he think you are being too compassionate to the drunks?  

Either or you need more clarification.  

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Yes, I think Just Plain Ruff's advice is a good starting place.  This is a question neither you nor any of us can answer until you (and we) understand what he means.

In preparing for that conversation (or evaluating it later), you would be well-advised in my opinion to review the closely related but very different concepts of compassion and empathy.  they are different but related.

Like so many things in life and especially in EMS, too much of even a very good thing, can become a bad thing.  Using compassion as an example, it is a good thing to calm a worried, excited, and ill patient.  It helps you get the info you need for a quality and accurate assessment.  If the core complain is, for example, a twisted, dislocation, or fracture, and you are so compassionate that you stop your lifting or splinting every time the patient cries out in pain, you will actually cause the patient more intense and longer lasting pain than if you are less compassionate and plan your move fully with your partner, realize in advance that this will hurt and decide to complete the process in one move.

Then there is the matter of time.  Too much compassion may lead to longer on scene times, which is fine for minor complaints when multiple other response units are available.  But, if the patient's condition is more serious, what they need is a quick (but still safe) ride to definitive care at the ER.  When your patient has a relatively minor complaint but your system is out of resources and has calls holding, or is likely to have calls holding unless your unit gets back in service, then you have to also add the needs of those (perhaps not yet individually identified) patients into your overall decision. 

Finally, your employer also has an interest (that to me is a legitimate one to some degree) in seeing that you are not "unnecessarily" taking up either your time or the time of your patients when your patients are in fact your employer's customers (patients you are being compassionate with are also not spending money and, to be frank, compassion usually feels good, so it CAN be tempting to some providers to spend a bit too much time with talkative patients that are enjoying your supportive attention, which is another one of those too-much-of-a-good-thing situations.)  Professionalism requires a good balance in all things, which is much easier to state in the abstract than to pull off in reality.

Good on you for showing compassion!  That alone gets you well on your way.

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  • 1 month later...

Yes, as the others have said, you need to be more specific. Find out what your supervisor means, with examples. I am mainly 911 service but have worked entertainment, mostly concerts and festivals. Without more info it's hard to guess what your boss is talking about.

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