life, background & interests
So.. who is Omni?
My interest in medicine came about quite by accident. I got into this career because I wanted to be a firefighter like my father. My interest in the fire service began in high school, and I wanted to join the local volunteer fire department; my parents wouldn't allow it, as they *knew* that if I did, I would forgo my formal education in favor of a life on the big red truck. When I found the freedom of college, I found a volunteer fire department and wanted to join, but couldn't because I lived in the campus residence halls, and the department had residency restrictions for members. As a substitute, I joined Texas A&M University EMS (TAMU EMS) as a dispatcher and began riding third on the ambulance, and joined the Texas A&M Emergency Care Team (TAMECT), where I volunteered in first aid stations at football games, baseball games, Texas Aggie Corps of Cadets events, and Aggie Bonfire. What will probably be the most significant event of my career came a year into my time there when I responded to the 1999 Aggie Bonfire collapse, in which 12 of my fellow students lost their lives. TAMU EMS and TAMECT weren't the big red truck I longed for, but they were enough of an adrenaline rush to keep me satisfied.
I went to EMT school, and began to work part-time as an EMT running 9-1-1 calls for Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department in northwest Harris County, TX. I transitioned to working full-time and going to school part time as my grades suffered. After graduating from Texas A&M University two years late in 2004, I attended fire school at Texas A&M's Brayton fire training field, and was hired as a full-time firefighter in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. My department sent me to paramedic school at UT Southwestern, and I completed the required paramedic clinical rotations at Parkland Memorial Hospital, Children's Medical Center, Saint Paul/UT Southwestern University Hospital and the Dallas VA Medical Center.
As my career as a baby paramedic began, at some point I realized the more I learned about medicine the less I really knew about it, and felt that I had hit a plateau in my knowledge. After 10 years on the streets, I found myself with an insatiable desire to learn about medicine, and I decided that I wanted to go back to school to continue to my education. In 2007, I returned to College Station to enroll at Texas A&M University to complete the pre-requisites for medical school as a non-degree seeking post-baccalaureate student. I worked full time as a Firefighter/Paramedic on a 24/48 shift for five years and was fortunate enough to have lots of coworkers help me in the form of juggling shift trades during that time to ensure that I could attend class on a regular basis.
I took the MCAT in 2012 and applied to medical school, and after a first-year round of applications without any interviews, I have recently completed, and am waiting to be accepted as a part of the Fall 2014 entry class. My interest in medicine came about solely by accident and I did things kind of backwards from most medical school applicants. While many applicants go to EMT or Paramedic school and seek out employment in the medical field to test the waters to see if it's for them, my interest was sparked by working in the field. I have learned about medicine kind of "backwards": I learned the treatments first, and the pathophysiology came second, as a result of my asking "why" to help me remember my protocols. I have always had a hands-on, mechanical-minded personality, and did not start out as an academically-minded person. All of that has come to me in secondary fashion. My educational background was rocky; I had no academic motivation in college, and my grades suffered miserably. I did fairly well as a post-bacc student, but the law of weighted averages left me with a GPA that was way out of the "competitive" range. I think I'm just as competitive as someone who is 24 and has a 3.8 GPA, but my competitive edge is based on my clinical background. I will enter medical school at 34 years old, after a 15-year career in EMS. I tell you all of that to tell you this: I have fought an uphill battle towards medical school if you have a goal in mind, you can achieve it.
Being that my background is in prehospital care, I would like to continue to work in the field as an EMS Medical Director. My goal is to write protocols for fire and EMS agencies, teach CE classes to those agencies, and routinely respond to calls with the crews working under my protocols as an extra set of hands to assist with whatever is needed, whether it be advanced treatments or to be a stretcher-fetcher. In addition to my full-time job and schooling, I have remained active in the same volunteer fire department I started in, and am currently the EMS Coordinator for the four volunteer fire departments which make up the county I live in. That position represents my first step into the "administration" side of medicine, and has been an interesting and unique experience for me. Probably like you, there are many times as a field provider that I have wondered why on earth the administration enacted a given policy, procedure, or protocol. Seeing the administrative side of things has allowed me to realize that administration usually has a reason for it; the flip side of that is that since administrators rarely spend much, if any, time in the field, they frequently become disconnected from what is occurring on the streets. My number one goal in becoming an EMS Medical Director is to remain active in the field and still respond to calls with the crews working under my protocols so that I actually see the end results of the policies, procedures, and protocols that I help to develop. By having a firsthand view in the field, I think it will allow for increased system efficiency by shortening the "feedback loop" between the top and bottom of the EMS food chain. With the rapidly-changing environment that is medicine, and especially pre-hospital medicine, I think this is absolutely critical to ensure that our patients get the best possible care.
Most of my time is spent doing education-related activities, but in my down time I enjoy hunting, fishing, shooting sports, working on my truck, home improvement projects, gardening, and cooking, both at home and in competition cooking events. Our competition cooking team, Firehouse Chili/Firehouse Barbecue, currently holds the record for the most consecutive appearances at Chilifest in Snook, TX and we are the only team to ever take first place four years in a row.