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Research in EMS: An Iterative & Dynamic Process

Source: Active Wizards

The topic of medical research has been around for centuries, but many times we forget that EMS [while a significant part of the global medical community] is still a relatively young discipline. In the research arena, we are making noticeable progress, as our procedures/protocols are arguably more evidence-based than ever before. However, EMS research is so much bigger than thumbing through the final version your patient care protocols. As a profession, we are still growing and evolving, and only scratching the surface around EMS centered research. We must realize that research is not a “one and done” task. It’s called RE-search for a reason. It’s a circular (iterative) and always changing process. Along with the basic fundamentals of the scientific method, research is also non-linear and may require you to even start over, go back to the drawing board, and continue scholarly conversations.

Research allows us the opportunity to reflect on some qualitative or quantitative data, locate resources, seek out peers/subject matter experts etc.. Research does takes time, and yes it can be difficult, but you don’t necessarily need a Ph.D as part of your post nominals to carry out productive and meaningful research that advances our profession.

In EMS you have an impact on others during every shift whether you’re aware of it or not. Completing meaningful research affords you the ability to have an even greater impact on others. What a privilege. Research also forces you to think outside of the box, it also has the ability to stretch your neurons a little bit. Research helps to increase our understanding of the world around us. Lastly, research can help expedite new innovations and technologies coming to market – to benefit the care providers and the patients who seek their assistance.

So, I ask, even with some of these known benefits -- Why is research so intimidating for some? I speculate it may be multi-faceted, but knowing where to start is likely the largest obstacle. The items below also highlight where prospective researchers may struggle:

#1. Choosing/Drafting Up the Right Research Question (make sure it will hold your interest)

#2. Completing the necessary literature reviews (this will establish your framework)

#3 Not anticipating the need to shift gears (the topic you start with – may morph into something different at the finish line)

#4 You’re afraid your work may be judged (scaring you off of from completing, or even starting promising work)

PEARLS around Research

· Find a topic that you have a strong opinion on, OR

· Find a topic you are genuinely curious about

· Answer the WHO, WHAT WHEN, WHERE, WHY to focus/refine your topic

· Study Design Matters [Observational vs. Experimental vs. Descriptive vs. Mixed…..]

· Be Flexible + Ethical

· Ensure Your Info is both Credible and Relevant

· Evaluate the Data with an Open Mind

· Avoid Anchoring Bias, or any bias for that matter

· Give Credit to Your Sources

· Seek out and collaborate with known industry researchers, like: David Page + Dr. Remle Crowe

· Browse UCLA’s Prehospital Care Research Forum site – they are always looking for the next engaging research presentation

· RESEARCH = KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION [It doesn’t have to be scary!!]

January 30, 2023

Author: Joshua Ishmael, MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM, NRP

Pass with PASS, LLC.

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