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Medical Trade

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skgirl

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Hello,

I have just sent in my application for Regular NCM, my first choice is the Medical Assistant trade. I have seen the profile for medical assistant on the recruiting website and I have an idea of what they do but I am looking for more details. I was wondering if there is anyone that could tell me what a typical day is like as a Medical Assistant... ie. what are some of the things you have to do in a day. Are there alot of injuries on base? Is it shift work or 9-5 day? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance
 

combat_medic

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Since I‘m not in the regs I can‘t respond from personal experience, but I spent a lot of time this summer with a reg force Med A corporal, and here‘s what she told me.

Before you can get tasked to a hospital, UMS (unit medical station), MIR (medical inspection room), or do any form of tour, you need to be QL5 reg force qualified. This is a corporal-level course, and it takes about 5 years to get... give or take. Before that time, don‘t count on doing anything medical, other than going out on excercise with the local Field Ambulance. You‘re able to go overseas as a driver, but not as a medic and will spend most of your first 3-year contract repairing and maintaining vehicles.

Yes, this sucks. A lot of this is because of the stupid CFMS (canadian forces medical services) restructure which is doing an excellent job at screwing us all up the @ss. The QL5 Med As are already extremely overtasked, and no reservist medics are even allowed to go overseas, unless they‘re a nurse/paramedic in real life. Hopefully the CF will realize this and change their policies, but I wouldn‘t count on it anytime soon.
 
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skgirl

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Thanks for telling me that, it‘s very interesting because I thought the trade would be a little bit more challenging and geared toward helping other people (I was picturing myself wrapping people‘s sprained ankles or something) , I may have to look forward to becoming an RMS clerk or Supply Tech.
 

combat_medic

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It can be very interesting and challenging, but the same as many trades in the military, they want you to be qualified to a certain level before they hand over the really cool jobs.
 
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skgirl

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I can certainly understand that. I am very willing to do the dirty work to get to the fun stuff. It‘s all very exciting, I am sure that whatever trade they accept me in I will find it challenging. Thanks for your imput. Cheers! :)
 

brin11

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skgirl,

I know of a few Med A‘s who went immediately into hospitals/MIRs after their QL3 course. You will certainly find yourself in a field ambulance unit eventually if not right away but you don‘t have to wait for your QL5 course before doing the "fun stuff"; in theory anyway.

My best friend in the military was a Med A. She spent about 8 years in and enjoyed her trade. She was in a base hospital and field amb units both. You will not spend ALL your time driving trucks and maintaining them, just some of it. I would find a few Med A‘s to speak to in person, this should help you make up your mind. Make sure you THINK you will be happy with your trade; if you think you won‘t be, don‘t sign. Wait for one you will be happy with. There is no point in being miserable for 3+ years.

Good luck.
 

combat_medic

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brin11, yes, is WAS possible to get a cool posting right out of QL3s, but with the restructure that is taking effect in next few months, QL3 Med As will not be allowed in MIRs anymore. Hopefully this policy won‘t last long, and the medical services will see the error in their ways and change it back, but the QL5 Medics I know are pissed about this whole thing, because it‘s overburdening them incredibly, while not giving the QL3s anything interesting to do.
 
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skgirl

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Ok, so is the QL3 course the one I take in Borden ON after basic? Brin11 do you know if your friend worked shift work or 9-5 day? Shift work is not a big problem for me but I am curious to know. What is an MIR for? What do they inspect? Hope that isn‘t a stupid question, I am still trying to get used to all the abreviations. Why are they restructuring? Is it because the new Medics aren‘t experienced enough?
 

combat_medic

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QL3 is the one after basic, but the new format has one part in Borden, and the other in Chilliwack BC to do the new Primary Care Paramedic course with the Justice Institute. Most of your days will be 9-5 pretty much, but there‘s always SOME degree of shift work with the actualy medical positions.

An MIR is kind of like a walk-in clinic. People may have broken their pelvis, or may just have blisters on their feet. Since medical coverage is included in being a reg force member, they‘re required to go to the MIR for any kind of treatment. The bigger bases will have social workers, EKGs, x-rays, and most also do minor surgeries (appendectomy, vastectomy, etc.). They‘ll also have a pharmacy, but they‘re NOT a hospital. The people come in and go out the same day, since there‘s no facilities for long-term care. If you need to be held overnight, you‘ll go to the local civilian hospital.

The restructure is certainly not being done because the training is poor. There‘s no reason that a QL3 med a can‘t go on deployment, or work in a field hospital, MIR or other setting. What the CFMS is doing is trying to draw all of their medical assets (people, supplies etc.) into a very narrow area. Yes, this will allow the local medical units to run more medical training, and keep close tabs on all of their personnel, but it will also severely reduce the standards of care (in my opinion). With all of the UMSs being shut down, people can‘t receive treatment for really minor stuff at their own unit, and this overburdens the MIRs even more, while having less people allowed to staff them. Any idiot knows how to soak a blister, but even really minor stuff like that can only be done by a QL5 med A. Many of the QL5s have been doing tour after tour, because they‘re the only ones allowed. Meanwhile, this enormous amount of QL3s sit around at the local Field Ambulance fixing trucks and folding mod when their experience could better be used elsewhere.

But that‘s just my opinion, I could be wrong.
 
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skgirl

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I can see why the QL5s are pissed off if this is the case. From what you are saying it seems to me that with this restructure will make it harder and more competitive to get into the trade... correct? I mean they are not going to take in more Medic Privates to fix trucks all day. So if they are closing all of the UMSs and the QL3s aren‘t allowed in the MIRs then they are literaly fixing trucks all day... If this is the situation for your whole first 3yr contract then it‘s a waste of perfectly good training. I am sure that it is important to know your vechicles but if it takes 3 yrs to learn vehicle maintenance then there is a problem. I hope I am understanding this right.
 

combat_medic

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You would think that something like that would make the competition greater, but that doesn‘t seem to be the case. With a problem like this, they‘re going to have to recruit MORE people because they‘re going to have a major retention problem in a few years when their QL3s realize that they don‘t like it at Field Amb and decide to leave after their first contract, or remuster to something more interesting. I spoke to a full Colonel about this, the commander of LFWA and he thinks the entire thing is bull****, and it either won‘t last, or people will get sick of everything and just quit.

Heck, if the local med coy tries to take me away from my unit, I‘ll remuster to infantry in a heartbeat. Don‘t get me wrong, I like my job, but it means way more to me to be a Seaforth than it does to be a medic, and rightfully so!
 
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skgirl

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So you‘re in the Navy reserves then? So if you want to change trades (remuster?) after your first contract you can? I was under the impression that this was not an option although I‘ve heard of members doing it. Is this a difficult process or are they receptive to a member changing jobs?
 

combat_medic

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NO NO NO, I‘m not in the navy. The Seaforth Highlanders are an Army Reserve Infantry unit. The name "Seaforth" comes from William MacKenzie, Earl of Seaforth, who founded the Seaforth Highlanders in Scotland in the 1700s. It‘s an area of Scotland having nothing to do with the navy.

That being said, yes it is possible to remuster. Depending on what trade you start in, the process may be longer or shorter.

For example - Med A to PMed Tech (preventative medicine technician) will be a much easier transfer than say Med A to helicopter pilot.
 
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skgirl

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Oops sorry about that, I understand now why it means more to be a Seaforth.

It‘s good to know that I have some options! Thanks alot for all your information!

I can‘t wait to proudly serve this beautiful country!! :cdn:
 

Brad Sallows

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Being bored or spending a lot of time on apparent busy work is not a new feature of the field ambulance units, or of medical units only. This has always been a point of much grumbling. Ask an experienced infanteer about the joy of track maintenance. Obviously if one is ambulance crew, one is by definition a member of a crewed vehicle and should take to heart the same devotion (well, maybenot quite) a cavalryman had toward his horse. While calling the truck which transports a detachment of five or six a "crewed vehicle" is a bit of a stretch, the fact remains the equipment is important. And, field ambulances aren‘t the only units in which people on the bottom of the food chain sometimes spend afternoons in a "platoon room" somewhere staring at a wall and waiting for the day to end, particularly toward the end of a fiscal year. I suppose a few people with the right motivation and imagination could cobble together some inexpensive and interesting training rather than wear down the upholstery.

There‘s an upside to the changes which have seen all the medics in a brigade pulled back into the field ambulances. Now, instead of a few people having the luck to be posted to a regimental/battalion UMS, all the medics will (hopefully) rotate through different positions within the entire supporting medical services normally associated with a brigade.

In short, there are and always have been points of dissatisfaction. Some people don‘t like being posted to a field amb; some didn‘t like being posted to NDMC (National Defence Medical Centre - when it was a hospital); some don‘t like going to sea for 6 months or more.

As for the breadth of responsibility of the Med A, I suspect at least some of the variation lies within the discretion of the supervising MOs (medical officers). Some are more willing to delegate than others based on their confidence in the skills of the people for whom they hold the ultimate responsibility for the standards of delivery of medical care.
 

brin11

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I am surprised to hear of the changes occurring in the Med A trade. It is unfortunate that it is happening and whether things will change again remains to be seen. The fact that Med A‘s, sometime in the future, will pull pin and leave in droves doesn‘t matter and won‘t change things either. Look at the weapons trade. They have so woefully understaffed in the last few years its unbelievable. They have recently recruited many new weapons techs and show the trade to be almost up to strength. What people don‘t know is that these individuals are still in basic or waiting QL3 training; some may be waiting for their threes until 2004! I know that, personally, I wouldn‘t have sat in PAT platoon for two years for my threes. Three WEEKS was enough! So, in reality, the trade is basically where it was or worse off.

My friend worked in the base hospital in Borden. During that time she worked shift work. It was something like four days on three off or similar, don‘t quote me.

I would have to agree with Brad Sallows in that alot of the training/responsibility would be left up to individual Medical Officers; therefore, some QL3‘s may have more responsibility than others. This happens everywhere and in every trade.
 
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skgirl

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I guess the Medical Trade is like any other trade in the CF or civlian world there always going to be something about the job that someone doesn‘t like... in this case it seems to be postings at Field Ambulances. I have discovered that in any job there is always going to be some thing that isn‘t fun to do but has to be done and everyone has a turn doing it. So if I have to maintain vehicles to get where I want to be, so be it!

It is nice to see such variety of opinions, thanks to everyone it is very informative!
 

Pikache

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My unit on field ex this weekend had 3 privates from 23 Med coy tasked with us.

Boy did they have fun keeping up while we did advance to contact in wooded areas and doing marches in the wee hours of morning to our objective. :D
 
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Littledoe

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I‘m glad I found this thread. I am also thinking of the same trade in the Navy.
 

combat_medic

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but remember, being a medic in the MO is vastly different from being one in the regs.
 
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