Leadership isn’t always easy to define, and this is especially true when talking about leadership in emergency medicine. Some feel that leaders in EMS should be those who have the most experience, or who are the most knowledgeable in the field, while others believe that EMS leaders should not be self-serving, that they should be focused on not only providing the best service possible but also striving to help their peers grow and become the best versions of themselves. Regardless of how you define it, many of the best EMS leaders share common traits.
Selflessness is a common trait found in many leaders, but particularly in EMS leaders. Being a selfless leader means that they aren’t in this to build their own career, but to make sure their team is performing to the best of their ability and that patients are getting the high-level care they deserve. Being selfless means you understand that your employees are not there to serve you and make your life easier, but to serve the citizens of the community with the utmost attention and care. As an EMS leader, they’re also aware that it’s their duty to make sure every EMT is properly prepared and equipped for whatever happens in the field.
Being adaptable to change is vital in being a leader of EMS. Medical practices are evolving every day and in order to provide the best care possible EMS leaders must be willing to step up to the plate and push their organization to keep up with current trends. Being adaptable also means being able to adjust to sudden changes in a medical emergency. When an EMS leader is able to keep their cool and adjust appropriately in a medical situation, then their team can follow suit.
As with most careers, passion is a large part of being the best leader you can be. EMS leaders absorb emergency medicine in all aspects of their lives by always keeping up with the latest happenings in the industry and striving to constantly learn new ways of honing their abilities. A passionate EMS leader doesn’t see emergency medicine as just work – it’s something they love doing and being a part of, and they want to share that love with their team and their patients.
The most important aspect of leading in EMS is to be open with communication. In order for your employees and your patients to trust and respect you, you must always be honest and accountable. Own your mistakes, and be honest if you’re not sure the answer to a question. It’s okay to not have all of the answers. A popular piece of advice is to “fake it till you make it”, but this doesn’t typically work in EMS. Doing this can back you into a corner, and your credibility can suffer for it.