Ben Blankenship

Ben Blankenship

What does it take to be a professional in our business?

The fact that a person may be paid to complete a task does not equate to professionalism.  Volunteers function at a professional level daily.  The term “Professional” has to many people equated career or paid.  To me, “Professional” has always meant someone who holds themselves accountable for their level of skill and actions.  Volunteers provide the vast majority of emergency medical services in our country.  In most of the rural and less populated areas in our country, emergency medical services would not exist without the dedication and commitment of volunteers.  Thanks to every one of you who give of yourselves and of your time away from family to take care of your neighbors, you do make a difference.

Are career emergency medical providers less committed to the same provision of care to the persons they serve?  Of course not, the career provider stands side by side with the volunteer and in many cases the career provider volunteers their services in their off duty time to their communities.  What our focus must always be is the level of care provided to our patients.  Our patients most of the time cannot tell if the service they are receiving is from a volunteer or a career emergency medical services provider.  That is the way that it always should be.  Now the question arises, “how do we ensure that the same level of care is provided to all patients”?  We study and we participate in continuing education programs to ensure that our skills are up to date and that we are ready to meet the patients needs to the best of our ability.  Moreover, every two years we recertify to show that we have met the requirements of the State Health Department.  I have done it so many times that it seems to happen automatically every two years.

Why must we recertify?  Well, it is an attempt to document our professional skill level, just like the other medical professions we serve with in caring for our patients.  For many years, we have discussed elevating our professional perception of our trade by changing from certification to licensure.  In next year’s legislature, a bill will be presented to change our certification to licensure.  This step has the approval of the majority of our personnel in our profession.  You will see little change in the process, just a more professional level of documentation to the world.  I know that very few people like change; it is in our nature to be suspicious and wary.  This change though will elevate our profession in Arkansas to the same level as all other medical professional.  I believe that the time has come for us to make this long overdue move to stand with the other professionals in our state and in our nation.  We are professionals, plain and simple.  Always have been, always will be.

Stay Safe,