Back when I was an A&E nurse I would tell people that the job had 'broken me' , that there was no way you could do any other job after working in a busy A&E department. Any other job would be either too boring, or that my own values of what is really important* would make me unsuitable for any work that involves 'profit'.

I'd lose a company millions of pounds and then turn around and, shrugging, say, “at least nobody died”.**

Then I left nursing and joined the ambulance service. While it has it's differences, a sizeable chunk of the work that we do is pretty much the same, make people happier than they were when they first met you, the cause of this unhappiness normally being something to do with their health.

Some months ago I got extremely disillusioned with the job, even my friends outside the service noticed my deep unhappiness and mentioned it to me. I started looking for other jobs, one was for a communications officer for the LAS which I was unsuccessful at getting, others were outside the NHS. I started casting out feelers for other jobs, perhaps from some of the networking that I'd been doing at the conferences I attended or spoke at.

Out of the blue I was offered a consultancy job with a business, just part-time, eight hours or so a week, concentrating on 'internet culture', 'social media', blogging' and all that other non-technical web stuff.

The pay was good, the people at the office were friendly and there was a certain boost to the ego on account of being referred to as the 'internet expert'.

But, what I would almost hope for, as I sat typing away in the office, was that someone would fall sick so that I could spring into action and do something more interesting than compose emails and action plans.

It was hard to generate any excitement for other people's business and to remain enthused in subjects that I had no real interest in.

There was a certain amount of dishonesty on my part which I found very hard to keep up. When I say dishonest I don't mean in the way that fraud or lying is dishonest, but to try and keep the energy up when dealing with something outside my normal sphere of interest was draining me.

I was being dishonest to myself.

So when I had the chance to resign from it as a regular gig, I leapt at it.

As I write this I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can get back to my 'proper' work soon. Despite it's many flaws, it's still a job that I can get excited about, that I have interest in and that lets me be completely honest with myself, and the people who I work with.

So it looks like I'm condemned to work on the ambulances until I drop dead or retire, whichever comes first.


People often tell me, “I couldn't do what you do”, but I think that the next time I pick someone up from an office environment it might well be me saying that for a change.


*Breathing and having a pulse – money comes pretty much at the bottom of any list I make of 'things that are important'.

**Actually, given the current financial situation across the world, perhaps I would have fitted in perfectly.

12 thoughts on “Condemned”

  1. as a sales monkey i can say i agree….it is the dullest job in the world and i hope to be out of here bloody soon!!! have actually been applying for the student paramedic post so watch this space…might get the job i have been hoping for for 10 years!!!

  2. Short version is that if I were to train for paramedic I'd have to give up my place at my station and my crewmate – and nine tenths of the job is those two things.I sent enough time sticking cannulas in people and the like as a nurse without needing to do it on the road as well.

    Besides, if I do fancy doing those sorts of things my Paramedic crewmate 'supervises' me.

    as for doing away with EMTs… well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

  3. Do you know just how nice it is to hear you say you're happy for a change?!I'm glad you finally realised it.

    Keep smiling dude

    Merys xxx

  4. You got to taste the grass on the other side of the fence & found it wasn't greener & managed to do it without pissing on your own lawn

  5. Jobs like working in a hospital are truely a vocatuon. Whilst not with the same conviction as you Tom, I tried to leave the 'wards' and work in the private sector. For more money; nursing homes etc.I hated it! I missed the excitement of patients being acutely ill (as horrible as that sounds). I'm just not mercinary enough!

    Now I'm about to commence my BSc Mental Health Nursing. It takes a lot to realise what your vocation is; nice one for finding it Tom!


  6. Tom,It is EXACTLY for those same reasons that I went back to working in EMS. It certainly isn't the pay. I did, because of that, keep my “day job” as a scientist for the State of CA. But working EMS to me is so much more rewarding that anything I could do for the State in my day job. My WORST day in EMS is better than my BEST day at a desk. Even with the knowledge of PTSD… (Of course, PTSD can happen at a desk job, also!)

  7. Having worked in various offices over the last 24 years (God, that makes me feel old. Would anyone believe I started work at ten?) it does take a certain personality type to sit in close confines, day after day, with people you wouldn't trust to water a spider plant, and NOT kill them. I've seen some fantastic people come in, full of enthusiasm, and leave six months later, drained of all hope. I wouldn't be any good at your job – the blood and gore wouldn't bother me, but I think the abuse of the 999 service would tip me over the edge pretty quickly. At least if I get abuse it's only over the phone, and I can hang up.

  8. Tom,You're a great asset and I'm relieved that you've realised the job does have its merits without having to pack it in completely.

    Experience suggests these things go in cycles and therfore better times will come.

    Hopefully we both won't have to wait too long.


  9. Hey, what a useful exercise! It's great that your hours allowed you to dip your toe in the water of something new without having to give up the 'real' job. Doing the office job for that short while has renewed your commitment and motivation. I used to find that when visiting various hospitals – if they were bad I came back thinking how lucky I was – if they were good I came back with fresh ideas. Win-win. I'm happy that you have had the time to reflect and conclude what matters to you.

  10. hey tom, one thing I have been wondering for awhile is why did you stop at EMT and not go on to become a paramedic? Also i am wondering what you will do now that the tech position is being phased out?

  11. I worked in the NHS from 1989-2003, then I left to become a trucker.After 4 years of that, and nearly 2 years off sick after having had major foot surgery, I'm hopefully starting next month as an Assistant Practitioner with YAS.

    Hopefully THIS grass will be the greenest I've had.

    Just keep doing what you do best Tom, whatever that might be.

  12. Sometimes we can't help what we do ('we' in the incusive human-as-species meaning)- and that includes what draws us, interests us and pokes at our sense of 'rightness'.It reads like a love story: you fell out of love with it for a while, but the lady of the vale of trauma drew you back: kiss and make up time.

    I'm really pleased this love story worked out for you. Took me over a decade, kicking and screaming, to realise I was doomed- er- 'chosen', 'fortunate', er…

    It looks like you'll always have supporters. This student nurse is rooting for you, too. And hooked on your blog- so you can't stop what you do or you'll lose the point of this blog, and I might just have to tail-spin into moribund sadness without my fixes of ambu-life.

    So you can't stop, can you?

    No pressure!


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