Teen Talk: A time to explore many different facets

In a few years, many of us teens will be hurled into the world of student loan debt, employment and taxes. We will be expected to choose a career and make a living. Yet the majority of us have no idea what our future will hold.

Last summer, I heard about the opportunity to take a ski patrol course. Although an avid skier, I knew little aside from the fact that becoming a ski patroller would get me a free skiing pass for the coming winter. That alone was enough to pique my interest.

A few minutes into my first class, I realized I had just walked into something far bigger than I was aware of. All candidates (including me) were enrolled in a six-month intensive course with all-day practices once or twice a week at a location hours away. The apex of the course was that everyone was expected to earn an Emergency Medical Responder license, which required several months of training followed by a huge pass-or-fail test.

Needless to say, I was shocked. At this point, I was questioning the benefit of this free skiing pass. Was it really worth it? Shouldn’t I be focused on my schoolwork?

As the youngest person in a class filled with older men, I questioned if I even had the ability to continue. I had no experience in the medical field before, and most of the information we reviewed in class was totally over my head.

In the end, I decided to stick with the class and explore the possibilities of this new experience. As the saying goes, “It is better to try and fail than to not try at all.”

As the months passed, I found myself not only understanding the material, but being intrigued by it.

Each week, we were assigned to read eight chapters from an incredibly thick textbook. That didn’t sound too bad until I realized I would be reading 289 pages of medical terms. (What exactly is barotrauma?)

I soon found myself entangled in everything from oxygen masks to spinal immobilization devices. My room quickly filled with long spine boards, SAM Splints, C-Spine collars and blood pressure cuffs. I spent every waking moment studying the material, and anyone who happened to pass by my room was immediately recruited to become my mock patient for the next hour or so.

When testing day finally came around, I not only passed but received the highest grade in my class (which granted me major bragging rights, of course).

I took this class on a whim, but ended up in a position I never could have imaged a year ago. As a teenage EMR, I am given the chance to spend my teenage years investigating the field of medicine. But my future is still uncertain. Do I have what it takes to be a doctor? Will I faint at the sight of blood? Do I have the ability to save a life?

If we teens want to discover what we are passionate about, we should try everything with an open mind. What problems do we want to solve? What skills do we have? What do we enjoy doing?

As teens, we have the rest of our lives ahead of us. We should spend these precious years exploring our options for the future.

Maria Proulx of Ledyard is a freshman at St. Bernard School in Montville.


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