If there is one exercise that I would recommend to anyone, regardless of their level of fitness, it’s walking. Although it may seem fruitless compared to running or power lifting, walking is the most accessible and universal form of exercise that impacts our bodies in many positive ways. I was recently in Orlando with my family, where my watch recorded that I took about 15 to 18 thousand steps each day. Now, while exploring Disney World isn’t considered an “exercise,” I did beat my move and calorie goal.
This week’s wellness Wednesday is not only looking at recent articles about walking, but we also have an exclusive Q&A with NECC’s dean of health professions, discussing the paramedic field.
Re-Thinking the 10k
Have you ever heard someone say, “I need to get my steps in for today!” and thought, they must be referring to the recommended 10,000 steps a day? The common belief is that 10k steps per day should be everyone’s goal, especially if you are not typically an active person. However, the idea of 10k steps per day began as a marketing slogan, and this article from Insider reveals why you actually don’t need to worry about making exactly 10,000 steps.
According to the article, 10,000 steps a day is not necessary to reap the benefits of walking. A 2019 study found that women who walked 4,400 steps a day had lower mortality rates over four years of follow-up than those who walked the only 2,700 steps a day or less. Moreover, the article notes that lowering your mortality rate “appeared to max out at about 7,500 steps a day, and researchers found no additional benefits to walking 10,000 or more daily steps.” So while you always should prioritize moving throughout the day, try not to worry about the numbers.
Making Walking Fun
Now that we don’t need to worry about our 10,000 steps, we can have a little fun with walking. Ever considered that there are many words that refer to walking? You can trundle, you can shuffle, you can amble, you can meander, and more. Check out this article for a breakdown of eight different words for walking and their origins, and maybe figure out how to describe your own style of walking, too!
So we all want to achieve that summer figure, but often think that we need to become marathon runners to do so. What if I told you that walking can burn belly fat? This article from Healthline describes how walking, an aerobic exercise, is one of the best ways to burn belly fat. Moreover, the article claims that walking also helps preserve muscle, so if you already have a regular gym routine, add in some walking on your rest days to help preserve the muscle you are building.
On long walks, I often find it difficult to find a playlist of music that fits my mood or thoughts for a long period of time. Instead, I have made the switch to podcasts which in turn has made my walks vastly more enjoyable. If you need some podcast inspiration, check out this list of ten great podcasts for walking. Whether you’re a news, humor, history, finances, movies or books, there’s an idea for everyone out there.
The Challenges and Rewards of Paramedicine
Over half of my family members, and a few of my closest friend, are all first responders — firefighters and nurses, specifically — who I watched work tirelessly throughout the pandemic. Check out the following Q&A with Scott Lancaster, Northern Essex Community College’s (NECC) dean of health professions, who discusses the paramedic field, including its biggest challenges, common misconceptions and the most rewarding aspects of a career in this field.
In his “day job,” Scott Lancaster provides leadership for the college’s 22 associate degree and certificate programs leading to careers in health care.
On his days off, he pursues his passion for emergency medicine, working 24-hour shifts every other weekend as a paramedic for the Amherst, N.H. fire department.
He was just elected to a three-year term on the board of directors of the National Association of Emergency Medical Service Educators (NAEMSE), an organization which represents those working in higher education, trade/technical programs, hospitals, fire departments, and more, and he is hoping to have a positive impact on the field as a result of his new leadership role.
Why do you think EMS education is important?
Paramedicine, or EMS, is the gateway to healthcare for millions of people a year. Be it an acute medical emergency, an accident, or serving those without access to other medical care. EMS providers must be up-to-date on current treatments, pharmacological therapies, operational needs, and often are providing care alone without direct oversite in the moment of treatment. To be an expert in this profession, providers need in-depth and comprehensive initial education and robust continuing education throughout their careers. Medicine changes rapidly, and providers need to be life-long learners.
Is there a demand for emergency medical providers?
Yes! Actually, we are currently seeing a shortage of providers in many areas of the country, including in our area. Many companies are providing funding for education and offering signing bonuses for new employees.
What are the biggest challenges facing emergency medicine today?
I think funding is one area that needs attention. The largest payer for care is CMS (Centers for Medicare / Medicaid Services) and their payment levels continue to contract verses inflation, and, as a result, they under-reimburse the actual cost of care. This leads to challenges in funding EMS agencies, purchasing equipment and increasing salaries for EMS providers. I personally believe that the funding issue is directly tied, at least in part, to paramedic education requirements. While degrees have become the minimal entry-to-practice norm throughout the rest of healthcare, paramedicine lags behind. It has been found that increased education leads to improvement in patient outcomes in other health professions, and paramedicine needs to get on board.
What will your priorities be as a member of the board?
Improving access to robust, quality education for providers across the country. If there’s one thing we have learned throughout this pandemic, it’s that remote education can be very well done, and that it improves access to those in rural areas, or without the funds to travel to conferences. I want to encourage stakeholder groups to pursue improvements in the breadth of remote education, and to allow more remote education to be allowed for re-certification.
What led you to become a paramedic?
When I got out of the U.S. Coast Guard, I was already an EMT, and honestly I went into EMS at that level while I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up! That was 1999 … After I started working in EMS, I fell in love with the job. I went to school to be a paramedic the following year and I have been practicing ever since.
You continue to work as a paramedic, while you have a high level administrative career, why?
I love the job. It’s really that simple. When I first came to NECC, I didn’t work as a paramedic for a couple of years. I obviously stayed involved in the profession by educating future paramedic providers, but I wasn’t “on the streets”. I was teaching a critical care paramedic class in New Hampshire and one of my students told me that his fire department was in real need of paramedics and that town is only 15 minutes from my home. I put in an application and started working as a paramedic there almost four years ago, usually working a 24-hour shift every other weekend (though I do take breaks occasionally.)
What has been the most rewarding experience in your career as a paramedic?
Wow, that’s a hard one to answer. I have been involved in many incidents over the past 20 something years… I think the most rewarding experiences aren’t the calls that make the news, or the ones that are ‘bad’ because the patients are the sickest; those are the ones that are the most challenging mentally and physically.
The most rewarding calls are the ones where patients feel reassured and thankful. Often, those are the calls that are what I would consider pretty low-acuity, but for the patient and/or their family they are real emergencies. Making them comfortable, maybe even putting a smile on their face, at times is harder than providing ‘perfect care’. When you can do both, and they acknowledge their gratitude, that is rewarding.
What do you wish people knew about paramedicine, that they don’t know?
That it’s not like Hollywood. It’s not all adrenaline, it’s not all lights and sirens and carnage. Those events happen, but they are not the norm. Those looking for an adrenaline-pumping job can find the profession unfulfilling and often leave the field. Realistic expectations about the job, that’s what I wish people knew.
What advice do you have for someone interested in Paramedicine?
Come on down and talk to us! Really, if someone is interested, they should talk to those who actively work in the field, get an idea of the profession and what a day-on-the-job looks like.