Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bryan Bledsoe - part 2

Dr. Bryan Bledsoe's name is one of the most commonly recognized in EMS. A talented (and occasionally controversial) conference speaker, myth-buster and prolific author, Bryan began his medical career in EMS and maintained a strong presence after becoming a physician.

Bryan's paramedic and intermediate books are EMS best sellers. His other works include frequent EMS articles, columns and other texts including pharmacology and critical care paramedic.

The letter, distributed to about 60 individuals via email, is likely to send a significant jolt through the EMS education community. 6 - 8 people hit "reply all" and supported Bryan in his thoughts about NAEMSE. I am sure that many more responded personally. Others may still be in shock.

Since this is my blog, I'd be weaseling out if I didn't voice an opinion. First, the disclaimers:

I ran for president of NAEMSE a few years back. (I lost.) I also ran for the Board of Directors. (I lost.) Nevertheless I don't have any hard feelings over the losses. It wasn't nearly as crushing as losing the 6th grade class president race to Hillary Hart. (sniff) Back to business.

My platform, expressed to anyone who asked including Joann Freel and then-President Linda Abrahamson, was to make the organization more inclusive. My description then (and continues now) is that NAEMSE is an organization that preaches to the choir. As a textbook author I speak frequently with the lone instructor in the fire station who has limited resources. For many non-collegiate EMS instructors joining NAEMSE is a dream (assuming they have heard of it). Attending the symposium is a fantasy. The educator course is a nice project but doesn't substitute for outreach.

On the NAEMSE web site they recently posted the NAEMSE 2007 Organizational Assessment Report and Membership Survey in which everything seems quite rosy. From the emails I have been seeing there are a few people who obviously didn't get the survey. The survey and I are in full agreement in one area:

An opportunity exists to develop new membership pools
outside of traditional academic settings; engage members
who teach in the military, industry, or volunteer EMS
areas. Also, evaluate geographic representation of
members and determine what regions (if any) are
underrepresented in NAEMSE membership.

I should also note that this statement is a bit snooty (at best) by considering academic EMS education "traditional." The academic EMS education model is not the dominant model in the US. It is growing. It is important and necessary. But the "look over the glasses down at the non-academic instructors" attitude is unbecoming and reflects how the organization is out of touch with a huge population of educators.

If you would like to change the name of the organization to "National Association of Collegiate EMS Educators," do so. But if not, there are far more outside of academia than inside.

When I lost the race for president I was told that less than 10% of the membership voted. I wonder how many responses the membership survey is based on?

The bottom line: I was at the meeting at JEMS in 1995 when the hat was passed to start NAEMSE. I am a charter member. I believe EMS education and EMS educators need an organization.

I am pleased that there is a national organization to represent EMS education (although the varied levels of educators and their needs are clearly not recognized or met by NAEMSE). This organization is in a proper position at the helm of the education standards project. We should be writing our own standards.

I am saddened by Bryan's resignation. There were many (including myself) who hoped he would shake things up a bit--and believe that a shake-up needs to happen. Not necessarily because of profound malfeasance, but because we are at a point in the life of an organization (10 - 12 years) where a course correction is necessary.

My membership is in need of renewal this month. I'll renew it for at least one more year. Not out of a profound belief that it is a benefit, but as a creature of habit; perhaps as an optimist hoping there will be change.

When I ran for president I wasn't looking to make waves. I was looking to be a good president. To do outreach. To recognize the varied instructors out there and initiate some organizational and individual mentoring. When I lost, a few people told me "You should get on some committees, maybe run for the board." Meaning I hadn't paid my dues to run for president.

But my reason for running was exactly because I didn't come up through the ranks. I felt I would be good for the organization. Not for massive change, for changes in perspective.

NAEMSE needs a new perspective.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I joined NAEMSE two years ago to be united with other instructors and educators. My hope was to get involved and be given challenges and a voice. I had hoped for teaching suggestions, opportunities, and connections to fellow educators. What I got instead was an organization whose website often didn't work, and no connections, no educational suggestions, and no opportunities (Oh...but there was a couple national conferences that cost more than what I earn in a month....) So as an educator, I need NAEMSE. As a consumer, I was left bitter and unsatisfied. So as any consumer would do, I left. I have not renewed my membership. I believe in the NAEMSE mission statement "To inspire excellence in EMS education and lifelong learning". I just think in the case of NAEMSE, it really says "To provide the opportunity to spend $80 per year to get on out website list to spend $435 and associated fees to go to the conference where we really tell you all the things you need to know to attend the following years symposium at a new price of $500."

Inspiration is easy when someone pays an arm and a leg for it. I may be wrong, but I sent them a read "Goodbye"