Shadowing a Doctor

August 31, 2016

Paramedics respond immediately to 911 emergency calls involving any type of accident, disaster or medical emergency. At the scene of the emergency, they quickly assess patients’ conditions and take action using recommended guidelines and procedures.

After dispensing initial treatment at the scene, they then help transport patients to medical facilities, monitoring them all the way till they are handed over to hospital staff.  Sometimes, depending on the patient’s condition, they may be required to perform certain types of invasive procedures such as injecting pain-relieving drugs, intravenous canulation, administrating advanced airway management and fluid resuscitation.

You may not need to spend 4 to 8 years or more in medical school to become a paramedic but that does not make your responsibilities any less critical. What do you do during those first few minutes on the scene will make the difference between life and death.

To work as a paramedic you will need to have several key qualities to be able to deal with the different scenarios that you are likely to encounter during the course of your job.

A strong stomach

This is not a job for the faint of heart. Blood, guts and other bodily fluids as well as broken and even severed limbs are all too common at the scene of gruesome accidents and disasters. There’s no running away from the fact that this is something you will have to deal with almost every day on the job. If you do not have the stomach for it, this may not be the right career path for you.

The ability to stay calm in stressful situations

The ability to handle stressful situations calmly and make critical decisions amidst the reigning chaos is a large part of the job. Hysteria, chaos and sometimes anger are the prevailing emotions after any type of accident or disaster. As a paramedic, you must be able to stay focused on treating the injured and not succumb to the pressure of the moment. The lives of those injured depend on your ability to make quick and accurate decisions.

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Excellent critical thinking skills are essential for assessing and diagnosing patients rationally and accurately. In this role you must be able to identify and evaluate problems quickly, using your best judgment to find effective solutions.

Physically fit and strong

There is a lot of sitting, kneeling, bending and reaching out involved in this job. During the course of your job, you may have to lift, pull or push patients of all sizes, sometimes alone or with only the ambulance driver to help. This requires a certain amount of physical fitness and strength.

Good communication and interpersonal skills

Paramedics often work in high-stress situations. Patients, family members, and even bystanders often let their emotions get in the way, making it difficult for you to do your job. Good communication, interpersonal and instructional skills are essential to calming everyone down and getting on with treating the injured.


Emergencies can happen at any time, sometimes when you are least prepared. In this role, most times you will be working in unstructured environments that are ever changing.  You must be prepared to switch over from handling routine calls to attending to life-threatening emergencies with little or no notice. You must also be able to cope with situations that you may find stressful, distressing or dangerous, ensuring that patient care is a priority at all times.

Chat with us on Facebook or Twitter, or email

Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.