Chapter 3: Impact of the job

Introduction

This job is a mixed bag. It’s the best of times and the worst of times.– Canadian Paramedic

Bearing witness and caring for someone at the end of life is an honour; it can also be emotionally demanding for the paramedic. This is particularly true with young patients or when a clinical situation mirrors something from the paramedic’s own life. Paramedics are often affected by the distress they encounter in end-of-life cases. Working daily with people who are dying can take its toll when little by little, these losses build up.

However, this work can also be very rewarding. There can be moments of deep connection with patients and families, light moments that can surprise us and come with laughter. Every now and then there will be a moment that paramedics will take from the scene that can have a meaningful influence on their lives. Finding ways to do end-of-life work, even embrace the process of caring for the dying, requires thoughtful consideration, creativity, and a reliable network of support.

Working with these modules in this series, particularly Module 7, paramedics learn to: 

  • Recognize common grief responses in end-of-life care. 
  • Reflect on their own experience of personal grief.
  • Identify strategies that have been helpful in the past.
  • Develop new strategies that can be used to respond to work-related grief.
  • Monitor their mental health.
  • Identify factors specific to grieving the death of a colleague;
  • Describe observable behaviours that may indicate a need for additional support.