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Caring for Our Communities: Women in Paramedicine Improving the Wellbeing of Canadians

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BY MEDAVIE HEALTH SERVICES

Every day across our country, women in paramedicine are making extraordinary contributions – playing a pivotal role in delivering integrated care programs and bringing high-quality care to patients directly in their homes and communities; more important than ever in the age of COVID-19. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Choose to Challenge”, recognizing that from challenge comes change. We invited some of our champions in health care at Medavie Health Services to tell us how they choose to challenge the status quo to contribute to improving the wellbeing of Canadians.

Here’s what they had to say.

Allysha Adamo, Primary Care Paramedic, Chatham-Kent EMS

Ontario

AllyshaAdamo
Allysha Adamo

How did you become interested in paramedicine?

Since I was young, I always knew that I wanted to help my community. My mother worked in a hospital and my father was a volunteer firefighter – I thought aligning the two roles would make a really rewarding career. Now that I am a paramedic, it is the perfect fit and I love it – I could not imagine doing anything else.

What is your favourite part about your role? How do you feel your role is contributing to improving health care?

My favourite part of my role is that it is dynamic and always changing. As paramedics, you have to wear many hats – you have to be skilled in health care, physically fit and an excellent communicator. No call is ever the same, so you have to have a broad knowledge of health care to ensure patients receive the best possible care they require. We are the beginning of the circle of care, initiating the first level of care during what could be considered the greatest hours of need.

What barriers do women still face in advancing their careers?

As a relatively new paramedic, I have been fortunate to not personally face any barriers. Although, I would be very naive to say that women in other professions or in EMS have not faced challenges. I believe that if anyone has a passion, they should vocalize it and make sure it is known – never letting anything stand in the way.

What advice would you give to young women looking to advance their career?

Absolutely go for your goals. Sometimes we can be the ones holding ourselves back. Be relentless, take up space and be yourself. The work you put into something is always what you get in return.

Alison Larkin, Advanced Care Paramedic, Senior Operations Paramedic, Island EMS

Prince Edward Island

AlisonLarkin
AlisonLarkin

How did you become interested in paramedicine?

I always wanted to work in health care. When I heard about the paramedicine program in Prince Edward Island, I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do and that it was the perfect fit. When I applied to the program and didn’t get in right away, I joined the local volunteer fire department to become more involved in the health care scene – that experience only made my interest in health care grow even more. After enrolling in the paramedicine program and doing something that I was really interested in, I had great marks and really enjoyed the experience. It goes to show if you have a real interest in something it can change your outlook and the way you learn.

What is your favourite part about your role? How do you feel your role is contributing to improving health care?

I love both parts of my role where I am in the office and on the ambulance. Being on the ambulance you never stop, you are always supporting patients and interacting with the community. It is different every day – whether it is supporting a patient transfer, arriving on scene to support a car accident, or delivering a baby, it involves a wide variety of clinical work and there is never a dull moment. As paramedics, we are the first steps of care and an extension of the emergency department, bringing care directly to patients, in their homes or outside of the hospital.

What barriers do women still face in advancing their careers?

We have so many women that work with within our company and in our profession. While I do not see barriers in my organization, there can sometimes be barriers with the public when we are out on calls. In some cases, if we are lifting a patient or completing a patient transfer, we might hear comments, but I do not take it personally. In terms of barriers to move up the ladder or within my role, I am also a mom and it has been great to work for an organization that supports growth.

What advice would you give to young women looking to advance their career?

Like in any leadership or management role, do not waiver from what you believe in and always keep an open mind to learning.

Holly Poirier, Paramedic, Medavie Health Services West

Saskatchewan

Holly Poirier
Holly Poirier

As a paramedic, what would you say contributed to your success?

I was fortunate to have my mother, Sharon, as a mentor. She taught me, that as a woman, there was nothing that I could not do. I received encouragement and positive nudges to try different things without judgment of failure. Having strong female preceptors (clinical instructors), mentors, and supervisors were also a factor in my success. They were always present, or their words were in my mind, telling me I could do it — until I believed I could.

What is your favourite part about your role? How do you feel your role is contributing to improving health care?

Apart from helping people, my favourite part of being a paramedic is the challenge of the unknown. I never have the same day twice. I am required to think on my feet at all times and when we are able to help someone, emergency or not, it is very fulfilling. My role as a paramedic contributes to the wellbeing of Canadians from the moment we respond to a medical emergency. Our rigorous training ensures that our patients receive the best, most immediate care possible from a dedicated and knowledgeable first responder and health care provider. We are the first point of contact with a patient who relies on our skills to assess and stabilize them in sometimes perilous conditions.

What barriers do women still face in advancing their careers?

A major barrier as a paramedic is starting a family. A paramedic must be physically and mentally strong. The endurance of a 12-hour shift during pregnancy is not only exhausting but dangerous. This is not simply because of the physical demands, but also because there are real dangers in providing patient care in volatile and emotional situations.

What advice would you share with young women looking to advance their career?

My advice to young women is to never give up. There are good days and bad days. Try to stay focused on the good days. Remind yourself of what you have accomplished and what is still let to accomplish. Find a mentor to show you how it’s done and then do it.

Medavie Health Services

Medavie Health Services is a national primary health care solutions company and the largest contract provider of EMS in Canada. Our teams of health care professionals are working to bring care directly to patients in their homes and communities.

Women in Paramedicine

Women in Paramedicine

Women in Paramedicine is compromised of dozens of women in the paramedical field across Canada. Since 2019, they have been sharing their research, point of view, thoughts, and strength to Canadian Paramedicine through their voice and words.

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