An admission.

EMT’s and Medic’s are supposed to be tough.

For some of us it’s second nature.  Most of you know that’s not the case with me. I’ve had to work long and hard at it, and I believe that I’ve developed what might be called moderately thick skin.  I’m able to keep my emotions in check 95% of the time.  I’ve even gotten past my issues with death (that’s another post for another day).

While I’ve had to work extra hard at this, I have an embarrassing admission to make.

School has me more than a bit frazzled.

As in, I’m losing my damn mind.

While participating in lab I’m reduced to a blubbering idiot.

Give me an actual human in the back of a truck with real problems and an actual pulse and I’m calm cool and collected.  I can think clearly.  I hit the IV’s in those veins that can only be felt while simultaneously calculating a dopamine drip and listening and weeding out BS from fact.  I can rock the third rides.

Give me a manikin,  a scenario and a few of my classmates around and I’m a hot mess.  I forget everything from how to calculate and set up a piggyback to something as simple as removing the tourniquet once I get that pretty flash.  My hands shake, my palms sweat, and I forget my phone number.

It’s NOT pretty.  Not at all.

It’s embarrassing as hell, in fact.

I hate feeling like this.


  • CrazyNewt says:

    Ha ha. I totally know how you feel. When I did my OFA training here in B.C., I found I was overthinking everything I did, and missing all of these little mistakes that would throw me off. But the first time I actually had to be a “first aider” at work, and it was smooth sailing – I was totally cool and collected.

  • 40lizard says:


    It called manikin-itis- they are not real and there’s just something about them that gives the heebie jeebies and another thing we all want to do our best in class but something about being in front of a group just throws me completely off! Hang in there! You’re just experiencing what the rest of us are!

  • I know exactly how you feel and am currently going through the same at Uni – but I have now managed to look beyond it as the end of my course is in sight….

    ….I just keep telling myself, only 7 months to go, and then I will be back on the road again, just me and my crew mate with no one looking over my shoulder!!

  • MedicMatthew says:

    That was me all through medic school. Frazzled by things while others were watching, it took graduating and going to work for me to be relaxed. Its a bitch, it really is, but it goes away. To me, skill lab settings always have an air of evaluation & criticism more than an air of education and reassurance. It has nothing to do with your ability to perform a skill or calculation and everything to do with the internalized need to do everything perfectly. It does get better though, just give it time.

  • Tammy K says:

    Hang in there EPI, it happens to all of us. Wait til you have to do the oral station and have no patient in front of you that you have to treat. I wish you were as far along as I am, finals this week!! Can you hear me shouting from the rooftops?? It has been a long 13 months. Now only a 250 hr externship left to do. Piece of cake, right?? If only I can find some hours in addition to the 90+ a week I work. By the time I get done, I won’t ever want to step foot in the back of an ambulance again!!

  • Tammy K says:

    Just wanted to add a little story. I was in an ITLS class last year and one of my classmates was doing his assessment on the proctor’s wife who was playing the patient. This guys gets so nervous every single time we do practicals his face and head turns red and he has bullets of sweat that are visible from across the room. He was about to palpate the chest area and he says I am gonna palpate the
    B-B-B-BREAST and his hands are cupped just like he was gonna….. well you know. OMG we about died. The whole class errupted! He has yet to live it down!! LMAO

  • NYEMT says:

    Welcome to my world. I had a HORRIBLE experience at my first EMT practical (in 1992, if memory serves – holy crap.), and ever since, I’ve gotten the cold sweats when I’m forced to stand in front of some proctor with a clipboard and an expectant look.

    This is notwithstanding the fact that I’ve now been at this considerably longer than a good percentage of the instructors and test preceptors in my area. It’s also (I’m mildly ashamed to say) the primary reason for my card lapsing last year.

    For which I’m just about annoyed enough at myself to suck it up and enroll to recert in the spring. We’ll see. ;)

    Just keep slogging through it.

  • hydrantgirl says:

    Whew, I thought it was just me!

  • Old NFO says:

    Keep on working on it Epi- What you are feeling is not that unusual… One thing to do it for real, another to try to remember everything with a proctor and others looking on… Hang in there kiddo!

  • dont worry about it. the time to mess up is when youre working on a manikin. get it all out of your system with the manikin so you can be a picture of perfection when the real deal comes along. sounds like you have the markings of a great medic- great instincts!


  • Walt Trachim says:

    What you’re dealing with, Epi, is actually pretty normal – and very common. I’m not trying to minimize it by any stretch because what you’re describing is me to a “T” when I was in medic school. And I’m told I’m a tough cookie… Well, okay – teddy bear is more accurate :) Just the same, manikin anxiety is part of the process. Unfortunately, some people have more trouble with it than others. But keep plugging, and don’t give up. It may not necessarily get easier, but you *will* get through it, and you *will* be a better medic because of it.

    Trust me on that.

  • bobball says:

    Epi- We all felt that way. I can almost guarantee that you don’t look as bad as you feel. That said, this is what I did to try and keep cooler under those circumstances. 1) Treat the scenario like a show-and-tell for FC and/or SWR. Now, instead of running a scenario where someone might “die”, you’re simply teaching the audience (who in your mind are a bunch of inquisitive youngsters) what you do. One thing to remember…”because mom said so”, is not usually an appropriate answer to the instructors; they actually want details. FWIW, scenarios weren’t as bad for me in medic school, because I did them weekly with the military for years. However, I used this method to get through BTLS as an instructor candidate. In my mind’s eye, my medical director was a snot-nosed kid asking “whatcha’ doin’?”. It worked.

  • LBBB says:

    One thing for everyone to remember in your situation Epi is that a manikin doesnt usually present like a real pt would. Yes they have all those high dollar ones that cough and talk and probably even can find one that will give you their Dinty Moore they had for dinner back to you…but it is not like a real pt. A real pt, as you know, acts a certain way, you see things, and so forth. It was always harder with a manikin than a real pt for me also because you cant treat what you SEE you treat what your TOLD you see….

  • Medic/Nurse says:

    Who said we had to be tough? We just have to have the strength to set our emotions aside to deal with later.
    The Manikin stress is totally normal. I could deal with real patients without batting an eyelash, getting great clinical reviews. Then I could face the same patient in lab and be reduced to a blubbering mess. It gets better with practice, and MEDIC SCHOOL ENDS!!! Its torture, but it comes to an end eventually. Then it goes back to being you and the patient.

  • Js says:

    Keep your head up! Js

  • The Flying Monkey says:

    I hate “treating” manequins. It just feels so silly and they’re always named something creative like “Mr. Smith” or “Mrs. Jones”. Bleh. I’d like to say that at some point or another you get used to it but I don’t think that can happen. It felt goofy when I was becoming an EMT, it was goofy during Nursing school, it was goofy during Nurse Practitioner training, and it’s still goofy every time I have to re-up ACLS, PALS, or any of the other bits of alphabet I have behind my name.
    Good luck in school. Keep your eyes on the prize.

  • a-mac says:

    I hear you on the bumbling idiot in scenarios. I have a certification scenario coming up and I am scared that I will re-discover my bumbling idiot. I think part is because I am afraid I will loose my gut… :(

  • whimsygirl says:

    As a RT student I am SOOO glad to hear you say that. I feel like a bumbling idiot when I’m in lab – and I keep thinking to myself “is this a sign? am I not going to be able to do this in real life?”

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April Saling