EMS Tips Operations

Striving for Excellence

Annual Review

I recently had my annual performance review for my part-time paramedic job. The reviewer was gracious and had thoughtful feedback about my performance during the past year. I continue to meet the shift and training requirements for part-time staff and didn’t have any mistakes or errors that either were not already corrected or worthy of discussing in the evaluations.

I appreciated the reviewer’s encouragement to deepen my involvement in the organization and contribute as there are many opportunities for all employees to help the organization achieve excellence.

Rating Scale

Like almost every evaluation I was rated on several categories on this scale:

  • Poor
  • Fair
  • Satisfactory
  • Good
  • Excellent

I received ratings at the level I would have self-rated myself. I was not surprised with any of the categories ratings. Given the opportunity I would have rated my performance from fair to good, depending on the category. I would not have given myself any excellent ratings and agreed with the reviewer that excellent ratings should be a rarity and a goal for all but the most exceptional performances.

When using a word or number rating scale it is most useful to define what each of the terms means in specific and concrete examples. I might define poor or excellent different than a co-worker. I also think anyone that receives a “poor” rating should know about that rating well before it is annual review time and related to a specific incident or incidents.

Striving for Excellence

Similarly, any employee that has an exceptional incident, something that is truly worth of an “excellent” on an evaluation, should be told of that in a manner that is timely and concrete.

At one job my supervisor continually stressed the importance of a continual quest for excellence. From the top down we used the¬†philosophical¬†approach of “Kaizen” in a quest for excellence. Our goal was zero accidents. By breaking down our operations into different segments we looked for opportunities for improvement in each segment. Kaizen at the micro level led to excellence at the macro level.

Free Text Comments

As an employee I am always most interested in the reviewer’s free text comments about my performance and encouragements for improvement. Just like the narrative of a patient care report comments on an evaluation are the heart of the experience. My reviewer encouraged me to contribute ideas, suggestions, and resources toward’s the organizations continuing quest for excellence. I am glad to assist because there quest for excellence is my quest for excellence.

How do you define excellence?

Will you know excellence when you see it?

Wikipedia article about Kaizen.

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.