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Old 02-23-2018, 12:24 AM   #1
smallturtle
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Trig I'm an EMT/pre-med student and being surrounded by human suffering is hard

As stated, I'm an EMT-B in a small Midwestern city as well as a pre-med student with a concentrated interest in psych.

My parents already think I made a mistake by going into EMS. I really resent their attitude towards it, actually. My most significant struggles are anorexia and schizoaffective disorder, and I thought I was okay but maybe I'm just in denial. I don't know.

I am so tired of going through the motions of prehospital care. Don't ever believe someone who tells you they save lives in EMS. It's a lie. I feel like what I'm doing is basically pointless. Statistically, nearly every patient who I get ROSC back on ends up dying in the ICU from pneumonia anyway. The same heroin addicts need us to come Narcan them every single week. I see now how manipulative, selfish, and indifferent people can really be. I went into medicine to help people, but I'm just a punching bag, taxi driver, or undertaker depending on the shift.

It's probably also worth mentioning that a serious trauma anniversary is going to fall on the 9th of March and I have been dreading it for months. I'm scared this is all self-sabotage and I hate myself for it. I feel so paranoid all the time and I can't stop the worry that something terrible is going to happen. There have been a couple times where I don't even know if something is real or not. I don't know why this is happening to me. I go to therapy, take my meds, and do my best in work or school.

My ultimate fear is that I need to withdraw from school, put work on hold, and go back to IP. I obsess over suicide for hours a day and can't get over how stressed and empty I feel. I am eating less and less, and I'm feeling the effect.

I don't know what to do. If I do withdraw, my mom will be extremely disappointed in me, my dad may revoke my health insurance card, and I would be jeopardizing my future as a physician. I feel like this is rock bottom but I'm paralyzed.

Please help me. I feel like an incredible failure.
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Old 02-23-2018, 08:11 AM   #2
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Default Re: I'm an EMT/pre-med student and being surrounded by human suffering is hard

Nothing about your post indicates failure. There is nothing wrong with being honest with yourself. I find it courageous, because you are being honest with yourself.

There will always be manipulative, selfish and indifferent patients. It comes with the territory. Will working in a hospital or clinic really shelter you from the darker side of humanity and suffering?

A job shouldn't make you feel like committing suicide. It is a signal that something isn't right and that you need to address it.

What do you really want to do? What other career interests do you have? There are a lot of ways you can help people without working in healthcare.

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Old 02-23-2018, 08:57 AM   #3
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Default Re: I'm an EMT/pre-med student and being surrounded by human suffering is hard

A lot of people drop out of med career for the same reasons you state. Truly, a job is a job, and if you stay youíll get toughened. Congratulations to you for being so smart and such a good student! Hey, maybe you will make a difference and save someone.

Also, you may want to consider other areas of medicine that arenít as harsh.
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Old 02-24-2018, 04:27 AM   #4
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Default Re: I'm an EMT/pre-med student and being surrounded by human suffering is hard

I think this is normal for many people in medicine. This definitely was one of the reasons why I never considered this career. I cannot imagine how it is to work in a hospital, where misery is all around you. Obviously, many people who work there don't see it that way. They see only their impact on other people. Surely health care isn't pointless. Yes, in the end we all suffer from the human condition and we all die when our bodies fail us. But that doesn't mean nurses and doctors don't do excellent work and really improve everything we have to go through in life. You shouldn't be this cynical about everything. You are actually helping people.

I suggest you try to talk with professionals about how they deal with this and what advice they have for you. This should be part of the education track. Some people definitely just toughen it out. Others switch careers. I don't know the details of the US premed track. So you are actually in a nursing programme? There are always more options. I don't know your parents but if they are reasonable why would they oppose you changing your career path? I would understand they wouldn't be happy to see you give up completely. But it isn't that black and white, right?
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Old 02-25-2018, 12:34 AM   #5
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Default Re: I'm an EMT/pre-med student and being surrounded by human suffering is hard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Talthybius View Post
I think this is normal for many people in medicine. This definitely was one of the reasons why I never considered this career. I cannot imagine how it is to work in a hospital, where misery is all around you. Obviously, many people who work there don't see it that way. They see only their impact on other people. Surely health care isn't pointless. Yes, in the end we all suffer from the human condition and we all die when our bodies fail us. But that doesn't mean nurses and doctors don't do excellent work and really improve everything we have to go through in life. You shouldn't be this cynical about everything. You are actually helping people.

I suggest you try to talk with professionals about how they deal with this and what advice they have for you. This should be part of the education track. Some people definitely just toughen it out. Others switch careers. I don't know the details of the US premed track. So you are actually in a nursing programme? There are always more options. I don't know your parents but if they are reasonable why would they oppose you changing your career path? I would understand they wouldn't be happy to see you give up completely. But it isn't that black and white, right?
I'm double majoring in biology and psychology, and I attend a school with a very competitive program for early acceptance into some of the top medical schools in the country.


I'm an EMT right now--I don't know if they're called something different where you are from, but I drive ambulances and provide basic life support and pre-hospital care (intubations, emergency medications, ventilation, vital signs, etc.) All of my coworkers are as miserable as I am. We swap halfhearted suicide jokes constantly.

The thing is, I want to be a doctor. I want it like I want air to breathe. I've had my heart set on it since I was 15. I used to love being an EMT, too. I don't know what happened. I'm not angry at my job or my patients. I'm angry at myself for being too weak to follow through with this.

I am afraid I might be relapsing. I know I am in a horrible place right now. I have been breaking down and sobbing several times a day every day. I haven't slept in almost 48 hours. I'm avoiding my homework and thinking about quitting my job. I feel like I am being watched constantly by the police and I've had several visual hallucinations today for the first time in three years. God, I feel repulsed by myself for admitting that. I have been reading the toxicology sections in my textbooks over and over while fantasizing about overdosing on each drug. The upcoming anniversary is one of my r*pes, and I have just completely given up and become completely hypersexual again in order to punish myself. I haven't eaten anything but protein bars and Diet Coke in days.

I don't deserve to have the opportunities I do, so it makes me feel even more ungrateful to think about giving it all up. I feel that forfeiting my early selection to med school would ruin what's left of my life. My parents will be so angry and disappointed if I withdraw to go get help. I am genuinely afraid I'm going to die. Having another psychotic episode would f***ing break me.

Sorry for vent. When I got diagnosed with SZA my caseworker suggested that I look into disability. I refused, and now to consider tossing everything I have in the trash is beyond painful. I feel like I'm going to become my schizophrenic grandmother: a burden on the system and everyone around me while spending my whole life wishing I was dead.

I have nothing left inside me right now. Where do I possibly go from here.
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Old 02-25-2018, 08:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: I'm an EMT/pre-med student and being surrounded by human suffering is hard

For the first bit, being a student doing a double major in a competitive program while having a job as a EMT, and having doubts and anxieties about the future, overall student stress, and life choices. That is normal. The story of someone wanting to become a doctor since childhood, sometimes pressured by parents, and then realizing in med school the realities o f what it actually means to be a doctor in the real world, that is so common. It happens to many people and then they don't know what to do. I wouldn't worry about it that you are at that spot in your life right now. Just move forward and you'll be fine.

But the second part, I don't really know what to say. Surely you are very hard on yourself, but you also have several challenges there. I hope you can hang in here until there are some good days, and then pick up things bit by bit. For example by starting with healthy good and some exercise. This is also when I usually say the 'try to get professional help' thing. But you already know that.
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Old 03-12-2018, 12:28 PM   #7
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Default Re: I'm an EMT/pre-med student and being surrounded by human suffering is hard

I have needed ambulance care a few times. The paramedics/EMTs (we don't have a separation like that in my country, we just call them ambulance nurses: a nurse who then specialized in doing "solo" emergency care) were always helpful: it varied from saving my life, having a good/comforting conversation during a "taxi trip" (psychiatric transfer), making me as physically comfortable as possible during a "taxi trip" (somatic transfer, from the hospital to amputation rehab), checking me over after I fell and hit my head very hard, monitoring me when I passed out and wasn't waking up..
They always were an oasis of rest even when everyone was panicking. EMTs "break through" the bystander effect by knowing what to do, acting on that knowledge, and ordering bystanders how to help, if that's needed.

I can't speak against to your experiences. Just wanted to let you know that to me, you are noticed and appreciated. And you do make a difference even when it doesn't appear that way.

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Old 03-13-2018, 11:56 AM   #8
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Default Re: I'm an EMT/pre-med student and being surrounded by human suffering is hard

By the way - I can understand working in an ambulance is very tough. You're kind of everything at once: ER nurse, social worker, cop, GP/pediatrician (by which I mean that you probably have to reassure people sometimes that no they aren't having a heart attack). Taxi driver. And probably a lot of other things, too.

Probably not all those fields are your cup of tea. I don't think that would even be possible.

Would it help to make a list every day of at least 3 good things you did? Or maybe a good thing about every call-out. It doesn't have to be "I stopped 1 person from bleeding out, 1 from respitory failure and 1 from needing a limb amputation". It can also be "During the trip I managed to relax the patient through the conversation I had with him".
And that patient will remember, or at least appreciate, that conversation. So that's one point on your "good things" list.

Another narcan delivery? "No child stumbled upon his body because I prevented the death." Of course it's small, but it's true nonetheless.

Making note of these things can be helpful. Even on the most useless of days, you generally do something helpful.
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Old 03-13-2018, 12:35 PM   #9
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Default Re: I'm an EMT/pre-med student and being surrounded by human suffering is hard

EMTs are on the front lines and like soldiers get combat fatigue and have a high rate of suicide. Does it have to be all or nothing? Can you take a break from being an EMT without stopping it all?
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Old 03-14-2018, 04:05 AM   #10
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Default Re: I'm an EMT/pre-med student and being surrounded by human suffering is hard

Double majoring and doing EMT? Please speak to your psychiatrist about what is happening and your career advisor. You body is giving your warnings. Please do not ignore them. You need to be proactive in taking care of you or you will not make it.

Have you ever considered becoming a psychologist?. May not be so rough and you will be helping people.

The thing about turtles is that they are tough and there are also times when they need to withdraw and stay safe when it gets dangerous. Even doctors when they are fully trained have some kind of support system. Please reach out in the real world and get help.
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