FTO Training; Normally Demoralizing?

cook

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I'm one shift away from completing Phase 2 of the three total phases of FTO training until being released out into the field as an unsupervised EMT. Thus far, I've been trained by two separate FTO's, and both have the same consistent attitude of demoralization and lack of positive reinforcement. I guess due to my slight slope of doubt in my performance as a competent EMT, I'm curious as to if other EMT's had a rough FTO experience in the slightest. And if so, share your story? I'd rather not feel like I'm the only one who has experienced a rough training period. Thanks in advance.

*My thoughts are those of my own, and not of those of my employer*
 

STXmedic

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I always despised being in an FTO process. I always felt like I knew what I wanted to do, but never knew if that's what they wanted me to do. It was constant second-guessing just to try to fit their mold, despite being very confident otherwise.

As far as the FTO attitude, that's going to vary tremendously. I feel like I'm a fair FTO that likes to try and help you through the process and assist in decision-making. I've seen many the same, and many the polar opposite.

Whatever type you have, just make the best of it. Take criticism and learn from it, whether it's intended as constructive or not. Once the FTO process is over, you'll feel much less burdened and more at ease. It'll be done before you know it.
 

WolfmanHarris

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We don't have an FTO process per se; at least not in terms of a senior medic making any determinant to independent practice. By virtue of the new hire finishing their college program, passing their provincial exam (though you can be hired and work 6months pending this due to exam schedules) and completing the competitive hiring process they are assumed to be competent. What we have is an orientation and mentoring process.

New hires spend one month in the class doing orientation on service and operational issues. Following this they are placed third on a truck for a month with a mentoring crew. The mentoring is relatively new to my service but from what I have observed it is about showing the ropes and guiding a new person as an equal member of the crew, just new. We all rib the new folks a bit, but in the good natured joking I've seen in many organization, rather than hazing or any of the proby stuff seen on TV.

That being said, mentoring and the first few months on the road has in a couple of extreme cases lead to dismissals prior to the end of probation for medics who ended up not being a good choice for the service.
 
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sir.shocksalot

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Thus far, I've been trained by two separate FTO's, and both have the same consistent attitude of demoralization and lack of positive reinforcement.
That's a sadly familiar story. I'm not sure what it is about EMS but we tend to have "teachers" and instructors that see a whip as the better tool for teaching.

The FTO process sometimes is an exercise in successfully emulating the desires of your FTO rather than actually learning what you are doing. Sometimes you will get some good advise, sometimes you will get some wrong advise; learn to decipher one from the other. Look things up on your own and learn the reasoning for each thing they instruct you on, this will help you in the long run.

And try not to get wrapped up in what you are told you are doing wrong, listen and try to correct it next time but don't throttle yourself over it. In my meagre experience people start to do much worse once their confidence and enthusiasm go out the window. Remember to at least tell yourself what went right on a call, especially if your FTO's won't.
 

hogwiley

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You gotta have thick skin when starting out in any health care setting, because your dealing with peoples lives and there is so much potential litigation involved.

There is a saying that Nurses eat their young, but the same could probably be applied to some EMS settings as well. I wouldnt worry about whether your FTO is nitpicking and being negative. Its not necessary or even constructive, but the important thing is whether they are teaching you what you need to know.

My problem with the FTO I had for my first paid EMT gig was the fact getting information out of him was like pulling teeth. He wasnt exactly positive or supportive either, but I was thankful for ANY input or advice, because it seemed like his only job was just to sit there and watch and critique me.

It seemed like I had to learn everything through trial and error instead of him explaining it beforehand. Then he would fault me, saying if I didnt know something I should have asked. Well you dont know what you dont know. It made my FTO time a lot more stressful than it needed to be, but in the end you just deal with it.

That isnt totally unique to EMS though, you'll find that with any job where you have someone training you who kind of gets handed the role without regard to whether theyre any good at it.
 
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DrParasite

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my biggest problem with FTO training was each FTO wanted you to do things their way. These was no consistency: what FTO 1 wanted, FTO 2 didn't want to see, and would gladly give you crap about doing what FTO 1 had told you to do.

There are also FTOs who 1) don't want to FTO, just want the extra pay 2) were never taught how to be FTOs and 3) would rather bash you for not doing what you should be, instead of constructively showing you the right way. and of course, the FTO process is often too short, trying to cram in all the administrative stuff, truck stuff, orientation of your primary and secondary areas, in between runs.....

Don't stress it, some FTOs suck, and 95% of the patients you deal with are going to live or die regardless of what you do.
 

Carlos Danger

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FTO's and preceptors who treat their orientees / trainees badly are usually insecure cowards who are simply taking advantage of a situation where they can bully a person who has little power to stick up for themselves.

You are probably doing fine.
 

Akulahawk

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Thus far, I've been trained by two separate FTO's, and both have the same consistent attitude of demoralization and lack of positive reinforcement.

That's a sadly familiar story. I'm not sure what it is about EMS but we tend to have "teachers" and instructors that see a whip as the better tool for teaching.

The FTO process sometimes is an exercise in successfully emulating the desires of your FTO rather than actually learning what you are doing. Sometimes you will get some good advise, sometimes you will get some wrong advise; learn to decipher one from the other. Look things up on your own and learn the reasoning for each thing they instruct you on, this will help you in the long run.

And try not to get wrapped up in what you are told you are doing wrong, listen and try to correct it next time but don't throttle yourself over it. In my meagre experience people start to do much worse once their confidence and enthusiasm go out the window. Remember to at least tell yourself what went right on a call, especially if your FTO's won't.
This is all too common. At my first Medic job, I was unlucky and got an FTO/Supervisor that was basically fresh out of school and very inexperienced herself. What was worse was that it was obvious that I'd been far better trained than she was. She probably thought I was after her job, so the sabotage began. Fortunately for me, as soon as I saw that happening, I started looking for another job. That next job didn't have an FTO process for the Paramedics, but they at least kept tabs on you and pointed you in the right direction.

Some of my partners have said they've had very poor FTOs in the past. Some just want the extra paycheck, some just don't know how to teach, so they fall back on the carrot/stick method... and forget that the carrot is even there. The good ones know how to let you know what you don't know, and point you in the right direction to find it and also praise the good stuff.

I think that often the selection of FTO is by default or popular vote without regard to actual teaching ability, and little time/effort is spent on actually training the FTO how to teach. The better they are, the better your line personnel are going to be.
 

Cmaclean81

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While working for a private company, I had 3 FTOs. Two of these FTOs told me to falsify vital signs on a PCR for a non emergency transport and the third one wrote me up to the clinical director for doing this. I was later fired and the two FTOs denied that they told me to do it
 

Aprz

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While working for a private company, I had 3 FTOs. Two of these FTOs told me to falsify vital signs on a PCR for a non emergency transport and the third one wrote me up to the clinical director for doing this. I was later fired and the two FTOs denied that they told me to do it
That's unfortunate, but what made you think it was a good idea to even listen to those field training officers? It's clearly 112% wrong wrong wrong. Use common sense. :[
 

mgr22

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I agree with most of the comments about FTOs. In my opinion, some agencies believe unpleasant field training toughens recruits, and some FTOs see field training as an initiation ritual that's more about payback than training. But the core issue, I think, is that good workers don't necessarily make good teachers, or good managers, or good leaders.
 

Airwaygoddess

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It seems to be more of the idea and attitudes of most FTO's to go on a tear down instead of doing the job of teaching new EMTS how to be safe work safe and strive to become a patient advocate and a professional. But when you do come across a great FTO they are not only a mentor but also a teacher. With this job you will always learn. If not from your FTO you will learn from your patients. Hang in there!^_^
 

Handsome Robb

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FTO's and preceptors who treat their orientees / trainees badly are usually insecure cowards who are simply taking advantage of a situation where they can bully a person who has little power to stick up for themselves.

You are probably doing fine.

Agreed. Generally people who have to tear others down do it because of their own insecurities.

I'm not an FTO however my partner is one for EMT-Is and I'm involved heavily in the process being the paramedic on the truck and all. I also am a paramedic intern preceptor and have medic students along with B and I students ride with me often although I have not had my "own" intern as of yet.

Teaching involves being critical, there's no way around it. Our FTO time for Intermediates is 3 weeks of 4 12s. Not enough to adequately train someone so we have to throw a lot at you. We have to be critical of your faults in order to address them before time runs out and we have to clear you or fail you.

With that said there are ways of going about it and being totally negative is not how it's done. It's called the compliment sandwich. Lead with a critique/criticism then compliment then give another critique/solution/criticism. Students need positive reinforcement otherwise they'll lose all self confidence and self confidence is KEY in this job.

This scenario isn't limited only to EMS. I hear about nurses "eating their young" all the time. Same with the fire service and law enforcement.
 

EMS49393

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Oh, hell no! I really hate hearing stories about FTO's that break students and new EMT's down. The bottom line is you're new, either to the field, or the service, and you shouldn't know all the "ins and outs" yet. It's our job to see the competence level and assist you in learning what you need to know to either pass your class, or function independently.

I'm a county preceptor through the paramedic level in the county I work and volunteer in, and I'm told my approach to precepting is pretty unique. I tend to let the person function until they have a problem or feel uncomfortable. I give them a signal to use, so if they get stuck or in trouble, no one but us know there's a problem and I know they need me to take over. I try really hard not to step in unless they are really having a problem or just going down the wrong path. My goal is to build confidence, not tear it down. I get the most success and have the happiest students. It also makes me requested pretty often.

There is no compensation for precepting in my area. I don't get the extra money when I work, and I will spend countless hours at my volunteer station if someone needs runs and hours. I do it because I like teaching, and honestly, I love seeing new students get their feet wet and discover how cool this job really is.

I don't have any words of wisdom but to say, we are not all like that. I'm sorry you have had this experience and I hope if you're under an FTO again you get one that is a little more of a builder and less of a breaker.

Good Luck!
 
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