Whether trying to lose weight or setting aside time to read more books, establishing personal goals is certainly a challenge.

Setting professional, career-focused goals can be even more daunting because of the inherent complexity of our jobs – especially those of us in the EMS profession.

So, how do you start setting professional goals to create your EMS plan?

First, you need to determine which goals are right for your career development.

  • Where do you want to be in three, five, or even 10 years from now?
  • Is your EMS plan for progress attainable?
  • Do you have a backup plan if your goals don’t pan out?
  • What is the payoff to making goals at all?

Defining Moments Can Motivate

When I was in paramedic school, providers stayed in the profession for an average of seven years. Now it’s decreased to five years.

The best approach is to start small and do a little at a time — that’s how I worked my EMS plan. In 1995, I was a paramedic working three jobs without much time or energy outside of work.

I decided to join the nursing profession while working a 911 job in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. One day during an EMS call, it was raining hard, and I had forgotten my raincoat. We were sent out to assess a traffic accident and had to drive past the accident to come up from behind and park the ambulance.

While we drove past, we saw almost no damage to the two cars involved in the accident, which typically keeps injuries minimal. As soon as I stepped out of the ambulance to walk over to one car, I was soaked.

When I approached the car, a young lady gave me the “One moment, I’m on the phone look,” through a closed window. She proceeded to discuss the accident with her significant other while I stood in the rain. It was that moment that I decided I needed to go to nursing school.

You may have already had a similar moment that caused you to pause and consider other options.

How Small Goals Propel You Forward

At that moment, I started with the simple goal to earn a nursing license. After scoping out several programs, I decided to attend the local community college.

Next, I looked over pre-requisites for an associate degree in nursing and finished those first. I took one class per semester, always motivated by the next goal — completion of the next class.

Once I finished the pre- and co-requisites, I applied to the nursing program. Unlike most of my class, I only had to take the core nursing courses and finished two years later with an ASN.

Before I knew it, I completed my goal of achieving a BSN.

Today, I have educational fever with a new goal of completing my MBA. Naturally, I’m starting with the small goals of registering and completing one class per semester. The goal is sticking with it.

Make Your EMS Plan Today

Sometimes the longest journey is one you must take yourself. I was lucky because I had a great support system with lots of encouragement that helped me when I wanted to quit.

Remember that progress is sometimes slow, but paying that encouragement forward really does help you and others achieve their goals.

Take the time to create your personal EMS plan to help you chart the future course of your career. And while you’re at it, encourage your EMS colleagues to do the same.

Then, measure how your EMS plan improves your satisfaction and the level of care you provide every day.

Start small goals by taking a continuing medical education course today.