Opportunities for personal growth

Stepping beyond your comfort zone

Palliative care calls may push you out of your comfort zone. Much of your other paramedic work is grounded in checklists, protocols and strict guidelines. End-of-life situations and the family dynamics involved may require you to be fluid, think outside the box, and improvise.

For example, how does one build a relationship very quickly in a highly-charged situation? The answer won’t be found on a checklist or in a protocol. Generally speaking, the best rule is to be yourself. Effective healthcare relationships are built on honesty, sincerity, authenticity, trust, mutual respect, dignity and humility. As you become more at ease in leaving your comfort zone, your ability to build relationships and respond to the needs of the job will grow.

Becoming comfortable with long calls

Some paramedics find it awkward to pass an extended amount of time with a family when there isn’t much to do or say. Just sitting quietly with someone doesn’t come easily to most people. While “sitting on our hands” and being present can be a challenge, families may find it profoundly healing.

Families themselves are rarely uncomfortable with the silence. Rather they may be:

  • Processing what’s happening.

  • Feeling overcome with emotions.

  • Preoccupied with the future and decisions that will have to be made.

Learning to trust your instincts

Palliative care calls can test your ability to trust your instincts, be intuitive in coming to a decision, and find the confidence to claim your own authority. Bringing a human connection to an end-of-life call may require you to “go off script” and simply be yourself.

Remember, too, that there is a place for "not-knowing". For additional information, see Module 2, Assesment and building trust - Chapter 1, Building a relationship - A place for "not-knowing".


Reflective exercise

When have I had to step outside my comfort zone? 

What did I do? 

What was the impact on patient and family?

Am I able to do this again? 

Which situations do I still find uncomfortable?

How can I address these challenges if they arise in the future?