As an EMS professional, your reputation is critical because your character moves with you from provider to provider and squad to squad.
This is especially important because EMS is a small world where people know about you before you even step foot in the door at work.
People react to you based on judgments about your real and digital lives. What you share on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and other social media networks forms your personal and professional brand.
This is why it’s crucial to remember that your social media profile serves as the basis of your reputation, professionally and privately.
Unfortunately, social media blunders abound among EMS providers, negatively affecting your reputation and future hiring ability. Just do a quick online search and you will find hundreds of examples of what first responders have posted on social media and how it effected their employment.
Here are two examples of what not to do.
- Three South Carolina first responders were fired for making statements like “Idiots shutting down I-126. Better not be there when I get off work.” about protesters who were blocking traffic.
- A Brockton, Mass., dispatcher said, “She needs to be left to rot,” about a pregnant overdose patient she helped treat on her personal Facebook page. Responders used naloxone to revive the patient.
How to manage your personal reputation
A better way to think of your reputation is that it fits into three distinct categories that I refer to as the “3 Cs” — credentials, courtesy and community. You need to pay attention to all three and how what you post filters into them.
Credentials, also known as continuing education, are important because it’s vital you keep learning throughout your career and maintain licensure. Many of the best paramedics and EMTs I’ve met are lifelong learners. In contrast, there are other colleagues who take the NREMT exam and never do more to see EMS from a wider perspective.
Courtesy means being respectful not only to your patients and coworkers, but also to yourself. When others feel comfortable around and trust you, it’s easier to develop professional relationships that boost your reputation.
Community refers to both where you live and the broader EMS community. The public and our chosen profession look to us to build and improve a framework where we can all grow and thrive. Professional norms promote collaboration, knowledge sharing and a collective responsibility for improving ourselves and our treatments.
We can improve our reputation as EMS professionals if we all follow those three guidelines. We can do this together by:
- Taking educational courses that go beyond the same old, same old.
- Pushing our medical directors to adopt improved, evidence-based treatments.
- Supporting colleagues and elevating one another.
- Becoming leaders at the healthcare table.
Let’s stand out in the community with reputations that distinguish us as the consummate professionals we truly are.