Introducing Jon Willoughby, MEd, BS, NRP, Doctorate of Educational Technology (DET), Relias Instructor
Jon is currently working on his Doctorate in Educational Technology, with a concentration in active learning and the flipped classroom through Central Michigan University. His dissertation will focus on the flipped classroom in accredited paramedic programs, where students spend time outside the classroom watching online videos and reading to prepare for simulations, case-based learning and hands on learning instead of lectures. Prior to his EMS and fire career, Jon served in the United States Marine Corps. When he’s not playing the role of EMS instructor, Jon enjoys movies — especially the action adventure genre. And, beware, he’s known for springing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon on you. Jon also enjoys time with his wife, Laura, two young girls, Violet and Fern, and long walks with their family dog.
Let’s dive right in. Find out what Jon thinks about EMS education as he shares his thoughts and ideas in ways that can help expand your learning endeavors.
Question: Are you a current EMS provider?
Answer: I’m working part-time for a volunteer EMS agency, as the only paid crew member on staff. Prior to that, I worked as a paramedic program director and also as a deputy chief of EMS education for a hospital-based EMS agency.
Question: As an EMS instructor, what is your teaching style?
Answer: My style, [chuckle, chuckle] — I’m a little more laissez-faire. I try to bring out current events or current research based on the curriculum. And I’ve found that it actually generates a lot of discussion. If I can figure out how to link current events with important topics of discussion, it’s more interesting for you.
Question: Can you give an example?
Answer: For example, with IV solutions: should we use saline or lactated ringer? Lactated ringers are a different type of IV solution that EMS has historically only used for burn injuries. Lactated ringers are considered a balanced fluid, whereas saline is not. If we use it [lactated ringers], we generally use it for burns only — but it’s better to use for volume resuscitation, period. Not everyone may realize the efficacy beyond burn patients.
**Here’s a quick read from the National Library of Medicine — in case you want to brush up on these two IV solutions.
Question: What do you like most about being an EMS instructor?
Answer: In particular, with Distance CME, we get people from all over the county doing all kinds of things in their EMS practice. Some states or counties are very specific [in their protocols] and they don’t deviate from what they learned 20 years ago. Compared to Distance CME — when you get in a classroom with our students from other states — you find out what other EMS professionals are doing elsewhere. So, you get introduced to ideas that may not be widely reported or shared.
Question: Can you give an example?
For example, patients suspected to have sepsis — I found out one EMS agency in Texas is using Vitamin C, Vitamin B and hydrocortisone pre-hospital, it’s called the Marik Protocol. At best, most other agencies are doing sepsis alerts only. I never would have known to do this unless I was talking to students and discussing these newer treatments.
Question: What would you like readers to know about giving instructor feedback?
Answer: I used to get bent out of shape about EMS instructor surveys. [chuckle, chuckle] Because we always want to do our best as instructors.
Question: Can you share ideas about EMS instructor feedback etiquette – what should students consider when giving constructive feedback to instructors?
Answer: If there was a problem, first think about what the problem was before giving feedback. Instead of saying the instructor blabbed, it’s more constructive to suggest a change, like, the instructor’s introduction was too long, and it would be better if they go into the course information sooner. Giving suggestions about how to fix a problem or how you would improve it if you were the instructor — that is more useful information.
Question: What is the hardest thing about teaching as an EMS instructor?
Answer: We are teaching to a wide audience of adult learners with varying degrees of knowledge, experience and backgrounds. This is something our students may not realize. One of my students had a master’s degree in chemistry, another was a psychologist. But, others have just graduated high school. Given the wide variety of our students’ backgrounds, it’s hard to keep everyone engaged because we don’t have a baseline understanding of what each person knows and brings into the classroom. Still, we do our best to make sure we take care of everyone.