Firefighter Applies Experience to Becoming Emergency Medicine Physician

May 11, 2021 | Graduate News, News, UToday, Alumni, Medicine and Life Sciences
By Meghan Cunningham

Since she was a child, Quinci Copeland planned to be a firefighter like her dad.

Right out of high school she completed the firefighter and emergency medical technician – paramedic certifications at Owens Community College. She began her career as the first female in the Findlay Fire Department and then two years later joined the Toledo Fire Department.

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CELEBRATING SUCCESS: UToledo recognizes the Class of 2021 with a series of stories featuring students receiving their degrees at spring commencement.

While she was gaining more experience as a paramedic with the Lucas County Life Squads and as a member of the dive water rescue crew, she continued her education by earning a bachelor’s degree in fire administration from Bowling Green State University.

“I loved having the knowledge and skillset to quickly identify and treat critical patients,” Copeland said. “I find fulfillment and purpose in bringing order to chaos and helping people who are quite possibly enduring the worst day of their lives.”

That experience helped her recognize a drive and passion that may be better suited in a hospital emergency room.

Copeland is graduating with a doctor of medicine degree from the UToledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences at the May 21 ceremony and will stay local to complete her emergency medicine residency at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.

“Emergency medicine was the only specialty that seemed to mesh with my already solid foundation in emergency care and my personality,” she said, adding that she looks forward to working more closely with the emergency staff she got to know as an EMT.

Quinci Copeland celebrated matching locally to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center with her Boston terrier Clem. Her experience as a fighter and EMT inspired the next step in her career as an emergency medicine physician.

Medical school was rigorous, but her strict time management to have every hour of the day planned and utilized helped her maintain routines important to her success. The understanding and support of her family and friends and making sure to prioritize sleep and physical fitness were key, she said.

“Already being a part of the Toledo community and having an established life here, UToledo College of Medicine was the best fit for me,” she said. “It’s important to have support from family and friends when enduring something as substantial as medical school.”

In the UToledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences Copeland also found what she described as her “guiding light” early in her career as a paramedic and as she progressed through her medical degree program. She observed how Dr. Mohamad Moussa, associate professor and residency program director in the Department of Emergency Medicine, earned the trust of his patients, how he spoke to their family members and how he brought together the staff during difficult shifts.

“He above all put others before himself, and through watching his actions and behaviors throughout the years I formed the type of physician I wanted to be,” Copeland said. “He showed me the power of leading by example, developing a true sense of empathy and the importance of placing others before oneself, no matter how exhausted you are. He changed the way I approached my job as a paramedic and now has provided with me such a solid foundation as an emergency physician.”

Photo Courtesy Swanson Fire Photography. Copeland began her career as the first female in the Findlay Fire Department and later joined the Toledo Fire Department.

“ ‘Thirty seconds of empathy makes all the difference in patient encounters,’ is what I teach my residents and students, including Quinci,” Moussa said. “I remember the first time she came to my office to discuss a career in emergency medicine because of her determination to succeed. I had no doubt that she was poised for our exhilarating and immensely important specialty.

“She is going to provide the best care to her future patients because of her ability to add humanism to her skills of becoming an effective ER doc. I am so happy she is staying in town to complete her emergency medicine residency.”

Copeland also joined the U.S. Army Reserves while in medical school and she looks forward to attaching herself to a reserve unit after she completes her residency program.

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