If, in moving through your life, you find yourself lost...go back to the last place where you knew who you were, and what you were doing, and start from there. Bernice Johnson Reagon.

03 October 2012


Over on Facebook there are a couple of threads amongst my friends and acquaintances going on about professionalism, enthusiasm, support for causes, etc. It has been a pretty interesting and lively discussion all the way around. It is obvious that people on either side are passionate about their point of view.

Basically, what got it all started was the decision on the part of two EMS agencies in a particular county to allow their medics (EMTs and paramedics) to wear pink t-shirts with an agency logo while on duty. Some folks in another agency got a little upset because their agency chose not to participate. And so the discussion (well, maybe discussion is not the right word, but it is what I will use) went on. There was even a little name calling and inappropriate terminology used.

There was a point that was attempted to be made about “being professional” and how the pink t-shirts are not professional looking.

So, what exactly is “being professional”? Is it truly about how you look and what kind of uniform you wear? Is it wearing the same thing that your partner is wearing so that you match (and therefore “look professional”)?

Does it matter if you are wearing a class ‘A’ shirt with badge and nameplate, a polo-style shirt, a job shirt (with or without denim elbow patches), or a t-shirt? What about ‘scrubs’? What about tactical style uniforms (what I refer to as BDUs)? What about pocket pants or regular pants?

Does what you wear really go that far in gaining the public’s (and your patient’s) trust?

Actually, no.

I know, there are all sorts of people reading this that are getting red in the face, or shaking their heads, or area all ready to send me an email about how wrong I am.

It doesn’t matter. Really, it doesn’t.

It’s how you present yourself and carry yourself. It’s about how you treat people. Are you nice and polite? Do you convey the idea that at that moment, that patient there in front of you is the center of your universe at that moment? If so, then you have the idea. It does not matter what you look like, as long as you don’t smell bad and are clean.

Patient care is not even about professionalism. It is about compassion. Seems like I read a mission statement once that had that word (compassion) in it (actually, it was compassionate, but you get the idea). Seems like I also that I heard a well-known EMS medical director make a statement, over and over, that it does not matter about the patch on your sleeve or the color of your uniform or ambulance.

I have worked with, around, and for some people over the years that could wear a uniform, look real good in it, but be absolute jerks the whole time. Their patients knew it, the patients’ families knew it, and their co-workers knew it. They knew absolutely nothing (nor did they care) about how to take care of people.

So what has this got to do with the pink t-shirt craze? Well, a lot, actually.

One of my friends and co-workers on Facebook also posted a rant, of sorts, about her employer’s decision to allow their employees to wear pink t-shirts while on duty during the month of October. One of the terms that she used was ‘m o r a l e   b o o s t e r’. (Good one, Candace)

And here is a new concept for some folks- morale boosters  (the kind the employees ask for that are not going to hurt anyone) make for   h a p p y    e m p l o y e e s . And guess what kind of care happy employees provide?

It doesn’t have to be t-shirts. My own employer has authorized our personnel this month to wear pink ribbons on our uniforms. These are morale boosters. Many people today have been touched by breast cancer. In my own household, me and Mrs. 9-ECHO-1 had our own breast cancer scare a few years ago.  

So yeah, I think it is a good idea. T-shirt, ribbon, or bracelet; it shouldn’t matter.

And then you have the people who say “If you support one cause, you have to support them all”. Well, no you don’t. But is there a real problem with that?

Is there a problem if people support their causes on duty? No. I wear a black and red ID lanyard at one of my jobs to support firefighters. I wore a yellow bracelet on duty in support of one of my co-workers who had a son deployed to Afghanistan. I have a key lanyard in support of the Wounded Warrior Project that I wear on duty.

But my partners didn’t. Does that make us less professional because we did not match or this was some article that my employer did not ‘authorize’? Not ‘no’, but ‘hell no’. If anything, it highlights our compassion for our fellow human beings.

I for one like the idea of the pink t-shirts. If my organization would authorize them I would wear them in a heartbeat. I think that the pink t-shirts (or other gestures) show a tremendous amount of passion and compassion on the part of those agencies. My hat is off to them.

And maybe there are other causes. Worthy causes.

I like the idea of yellow ribbons and bracelets for our troops who are deployed overseas. Maybe for National Military Appreciation Month we could wear military themed t-shirts (maybe for 2013 we could get ACU camo t-shirts), bracelets, or ribbons. How about red, white, and blue during July?  And is there a problem with wearing the various colored ribbons for the various cancers during their month?

Not a bit. Like someone said, it gets people talking, interacting, and involved. And there is nothing wrong with that.

So to those agencies that opted for the pink shirts or pink ribbons, high fives and fist bumps all around.

No comments: