Administration and Leadership, Columns

How Baby Boomers Can Compromise with Millennials

Issue 2 and Volume 42.

What the hell happened here? I used to cram my EMS cranium with information by reading emergency medical literature from tactile print (books) and from illuminated film images (slide projectors). Yes, this is how we learned way back when. It was rough. (Film slides, by the way, would jam and melt within the projector casings, inadvertently filling my cranial vault with carcinogenic smoke.)

Now here I am reviewing up-to-date protocols from the internet on my iPad, as I walk briskly on the treadmill while listening to an in-service on my smartphone regarding the hazards of inhaling burned plastic. What happened to my baby boomer roots? Att-i-ca! Att-i-ca!

Now, I was nowhere near born between the early 80s and later 90s, but my kids were. My daughter, who recently became an EMT, has helped me (unintentionally) reframe some of my broad and often unfair generalizations regarding the millennial mindset. Not all of them, but enough to realize compromises can be made on both sides of the generation aisle.

For my part, I’ve embraced the social media aspect of Generation Y. Y? Because I remember a time when I had to needlessly memorize and be tested on countless drug dosages we would rarely, if ever, use. Instead of having to fill my pocket-laden pants with bulky guidebooks, I now have access to apps on my iPhone, freeing my pockets to carry more important items such as antiquated sandwiches from the EMS lounge.

I know, I know. People have grown weary talking about the millennial generation, probably just as much as the millennials are tired of being talked about—specifically hearing that they’re spoiled, entitled, lazy and disloyal. Hmmmm—the exact same generalities my elders used for the boomers, but they didn’t have social media to rub it in.

Writer and business owner Gordon Tredgold summed up the millennial generation as being “overeducated, underemployed, heavily in debt, and looking to make a difference in the world … They also want to work in a collaborative, flexible environment that doesn’t require them to be in the office all the time, and one that will allow them to utilize social media.”

I personally believe that I, as a mentor, can evolve to meet the needs of this new generation of EMS and will strive to do the following:

  • Give ongoing reinforcement and praise for their efforts (no trophies though);
  • Budget funds for more medical technology (it’s not my money anyway);
  • Provide a sense of structure (but I will not be your soccer mom);
  • Provide immediate feedback through ongoing dialogue (texting included); and
  • Provide opportunities to solve problems without giving the solution (secondary to not knowing the solution from inhaling too smoke from burned film slides).

Now, as far as technology goes, there are limits. For example, I won’t allow you to:

  • Put yourself out of service if your phone dies;
  • Place a hashtag next to your patient’s diagnosis on your PCR;
  • Communicate with your patient via texting;
  • Take a selfie when shooting a mechanism of injury photo of an MVA;
  • Put gold stars on your well-written PCRs;
  • Give the patient your Uber account if they refuse to go to the hospital by ambulance;
  • Judge the patient’s social and economic status by the type of phone they use;
  • Ask your patient to “friend you” after you arrive at the hospital;
  • Let you label a scene as a hazmat scenario because it has no cell service;
  • Request that the receiving ED doctor tweet you a patient update;
  • Ask a patient if their headache or DVT was caused by binging Game of Thrones; or
  • Photo-bomb a crime scene shot.

Until next time, let’s keep in touch … but not every five seconds. I really don’t care to view a snapshot of your last meal (antiquated sandwiches included).