The Ultimate Compliment

Abraham Lincoln once said “Everybody likes a compliment.”

I would believe that to be true. As for anyone who has worked in the pre-hospital field for any length of time you can appreciate that compliments are few and far between. There are so many reasons for this, but it seems we are more likely to receive complaints then accolades. After all, people rarely discuss when things go right. You see, people expect us to do a good job and for good reason. Paramedics are highly trained professionals with years of training and on the job experience, receiving a good wage. The public should not be expected to settle for anything less.

Our time with patients is often limited; we are typically with them when they are at their sickest. A patients pre-hospital has many moving parts; gathering chief complaint, pertinent history and initiating critical interventions are just a few of them. All this occurs while trying to package and transport a patient to the proper facility best suited to treat their condition. This is notably one of the most stressful times in our patients life. In their moment of need their mind may be flooded with images of loved ones, questions about the future and worry of the unknown. Post treatment or upon discharge from hospital, patients may reflect on the care they received, but get caught up with life, and new struggles they may face. Paramedics are usually long gone before a patient may get a chance to thank them for the care they received.

Regardless of the lack of recognition, we didn’t become paramedics for the glory. Most, I would say, became paramedics because we love to help people, we yearn to make a difference. Something small such as helping someone with directions in the hospital, or as memorable as welcoming a new life to the world or sacred as being present when one departs this world, Paramedics are here 24/7/365.

With all this being said we can’t undervalue the importance of recognition. Compliments from patients, bystanders, peers or management can improve your confidence and reinforce your commitment to the profession. Ideally the positive effects of compliments could reduce burnout and lead to continued professional development and a keen interest in growing as a medic.

Most of us have been lucky enough to receive compliments and unfortunate enough to receive complaints, it’s part of the job. I have received both, but the one compliment that carries the most weight for me is what I deem, “ultimate compliment”. Let me explain, I’ve had the pleasure of a colleague advising me that if they themselves or their family required help, they would want me to be there for them. In their eyes you have demonstrated qualities in your practice that have deemed you worthy of holding that responsibility. The highest level of respect and trust has been bestowed upon you. It is truly an honor to hear these words. We all have these individuals in mind, colleagues that we’d trust with our health or the well being of our loved ones.

Now, if you have been lucky enough to receive this compliment, be proud, but also humble. Keep practicing, learning, and growing as a human and paramedic. Most importantly, pass this compliment along when the time is right. We all know the power of a well-timed compliment.


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