This Is a Test

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					             Life Support
                                                                                                                           By Mike Rubin, BS, NREMT-P

              This Is a Test
              EMS exams can be stressful experiences, for a number of reasons

                I hate taking tests. I’m using the word hate because dislike         Scott, whom I would one day work with. I scarcely noticed the
              isn’t strong enough. I dislike snow, cold soup, movies with            minutes passing. Scott did, perhaps because there were so
              subtitles, and teams who beat the Red Sox, but I don’t hate them       many of them. At the end of the drill, during which the sun set in
              (well, maybe the Yankees a little bit). None of them aggravate         more than one time zone, Scott politely informed me that while
              me as much as EMS exams. Oral, practical, written—I dread              I had been diligent in performing each step of the scenario, an
              them all. I’m afraid I’ll forget the year Napoleon dispatched          actual patient would have long since succumbed—to old age,
              the first ambulance, or I won’t verbalize donning a full body           not shock. He did praise my enunciation, however.
              condom to treat a spider bite. My memory’s not what it used to           Until then I hadn’t failed an EMS exam. I was angry and
              be. I still can’t believe I learned New York City’s protocols before   embarrassed. Scared, too, because I’d just blown the first of
              I knew a platelet from a placenta. (Memo to NYC*EMS trivia             only two chances each of us had to pass that station. I wanted
              buffs: Remember when Decadron was an option for treating               to do it again—now—but there would be no retests until the
              EMD—I mean PEA?)                                                       following week. It was a long four days until I demonstrated
                I suppose we have it easier than some professions. Bar exams         more timely delivery of emergent medication.

as Dr.
              in most states last two days. London taxi drivers are tested on
              300 routes covering 25,000 streets. That’s roughly four times
              the combined number of bones, muscles, joints, ligaments and
                                                                                       That experience cemented my austere outlook on test-taking:
                                                                                       We’re only as good as our last performance. Each time
                                                                                     we’re evaluated is a fresh opportunity to screw up. There’s no
              tendons in the human body. Next time I’m in London, I’m doing          extra credit for prior achievement. Just because I can intubate
   Seuss      a ride-along with a cabbie instead of a medic.                         a manikin from across the room doesn’t mean I know what a
might say,      As a student in the early ’70s, I had a casual attitude              pancreas is.
              about exams. I was so apathetic, I came this close (picture              Evaluating practical exams is a subjective exercise. I was
something     Mike’s thumb and forefinger spread the width of an EpiPen)              relieved to pass my second IV infusion attempt, but I might not
              to spending the last two years of college at the racetrack. I          have with a different preceptor. What if the examiner admin-
   went       wasn’t setting very challenging goals for myself. I’d decided          istering my retest counted 40 drops per minute instead of 30,
  bump.”      any grade-point average that didn’t rule out a cap and gown            or decided my technique wasn’t sufficiently sterile? At what
              was acceptable. More than onc
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