Days such as today and tomorrow at work are the days I truly regret not following the career path I feel I should have.
As a dental assistant in an Oral Surgery practice, we must be trained in Advanced Cardiac Life Support procedures. These are things like recognizing arrhythmias, full on arrests, respiratory issues and management of life support until EMS arrives at our office. Every two years we are required to update this training.
My first time was after only 1 year in the office and I felt ill prepared. I thought I knew a lot about surgery until I became an assistant in this office. Anesthesia in oral surgery is a completely different ball game and working on sleeping patients was obviously much different from my experience in general dental surgery. I remember trying to take in as much information as possible during that first training and feeling inadequate, overwhelmed and praying that we never had an emergency as long as I worked in this office.
My outlook after another two years has changed measurably. I feel much more confident now, after dealing with a few situations “in real life”, but it is painfully brought to mind each time we have to review for this training that while we may know more than the average person on the street, we are not nurses, not equipped to do much other than follow directions if given, and hope EMS is quick. It’s not that we couldn’t, if trained adequately, it is that legally, we can’t.
This is where I have the briefest of opportunities to glimpse the world I have missed in taking a career route away from the medical field and it bugs the hell out of me every time. I want to start the IV’s, I want to intubate, I want to be a part of these scenarios on a daily basis. I want to work in an ER. I however have no intention of starting another career. Two is enough, I think. But this nagging feeling is pervasive….I know I could do this but I am 51. I do not want to spend long hours in nursing school. I want to do it NOW! Even though legislation is in the works, it could be years before, legally, I have the opportunity to be trained to perform some of these duties and procedures. I don’t want to stick around dentistry that long.
So, off I go to read ECG’s, perform CPR and bag mask ventilations, place AED’s and perfect chin-lift jaw thrusts, all the while restraining myself from grabbing the IV catheter or the ET tube and whining under my breath about what I can’t do.