Occupational Social Responsibility

According to Barendsen (2007), my profession is a caring one. I am a paramedic and I serve my community. I am also a firefighter who serves his community without compensation. It could be said that I blur the lines between my professional and personal life, but I enjoy great satisfaction doing so. I am by nature a very socially responsible person, but I extoll the virtues of taking personal responsibility. As a paramedic, I have a mantra: we combat stupidity.

As Barendsen (2007) points out, “workers in caring professions typically describe themselves as filling in or taking over a responsibility that others have abandoned” (p. 173). Everyone at some point in their lives makes stupid decisions. This is part of human learning, but some of these mistakes can unfortunately be lethal. This is where I feel that I make a difference in the lives of others. Driving too fast, smoking, eating too many fatty foods, or incidences of drunken abilities (in Texas, we had a saying that no good can from the statement: hey, hold my beer; watch this!). We all make these mistakes, thus we are all prone to stupidity from time to time. I enjoy the fact that many times I can help to allow others to learn from these mis-steps and reduce the lethality of their decision matrix.

There are times, however, that I have to get away from my occupation for my own sanity. I enjoy a number of hobbies and friends with varying interests that I can rely on to take my mind off of the worries of work. Also, attending school gives me added balance in the personal development side of life. Though attaining my degree will certainly better my professional outlook, I am seeking a degree solely for personal achievement. The prevalence of burnout in my profession is extremely high (Felton, 1998; Neale, 1991), so I make great efforts to balance and separate my personal life from my professional life. Admittedly, this is difficult at times because I am almost always on call.


Barendsen, L. (2007). Service at work. In H. Gardner (Ed.), Responsibility at work: How leading professionals act (or don’t act) responsibly (pp. 172-195). San Fancisco, CA: Josse-Bass.

Felton, J. S. (1998) Burnout as a clinical entity — its importance in health care workers. Occupational Medicine, 48(4), 237-250. doi:10.1093/occmed/48.4.237

Neale, A. V. (1991). Work stress in emergency medical technicians. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 33(9), 991-997.