Stress and the New Healer  

Posted by Dristanel in


So there’s people on my blog. I’m not sure I’m awake enough to comprehend that just yet. Give me a bit. Shot in my coffee would be nice, too. Another thank you to and Elizabeth Harper specifically for the link. I hope you enjoy my ridiculousness, and may you forever burninate the countryside.

Now, on to serious business.

There was recently a post in the Healing Role forums by a somewhat newly-minted 80 paladin who had concerns that he was getting too stressed as a healer. The original post reads as follows:

Its getting more and more noticeable. Im talking about just pugging LFGs, i feel like there is a weight on my shoulder, like i have to be on my toes at all times, and that if the group fails or gets close to failing, i look bad.
Since i hit 80 i have only healed, i dont know how to do anything else. PvP is out of the question.
What im saying is, every moment i heal, i dont see the group that we are attacking: i see green bars. I only wonder if healing is as fun as i think it should be. Honestly, i feel too stressed when i heal and i feel as though im missing the fun of PvE trying to do my role.
Maybe its not my fault if we fail, i wouldnt know; im just looking at green bars. Maybe its not me, its the other people? Maybe they make my job harder?
What do you think?

I've heard and joked that we healers are terribly surprised by the character appearance in game, because all we see in reference to you is a class-colored bar. Nowadays, I can tell who almost every person in my raid is by looking at their character, and yes, I have nameplates off. 80% of you fools are dressed exactly alike, too. /fluffs skirt

But when I first started out, Grid was, more or less, all I watched. I was dying to stupid things and I felt rather overwhelmed. Several things contribute to the stress of a new paladin healer, but my top three were as follows:

Lack of movement: We have one instant cast spell, so movement-heavy fights can get a bit crazy. Skadi is a decent example of this.

Lack of group-heal: Looking at you, Black Knight.

Lack of experience with Beacon: If you’ve ever healed with another class or like myself healed before Beacon was in the game, you may be stubbornly resisting this spell.

Here’s what Ghostcrawler has to say on the subject:

Here is the best advice I can give someone who feels overwhelmed. Your job isn't to keep everyone at 100%. Your job is to keep anyone from hitting 0%. If someone's hurt, but stable, then they may not need your attention right away. You're the medic, so you need to practice triage. There will be enough breaks to get those folks who aren't at 100% back up there at some point.

Aww. Ghostcrawler likes medics. That must mean we’re getting our ponies first. Oh, hey, did you know he has a Formspring? I guess he had some work done recently. He’s rocking the dwarf priest look. Yeah, I know. What are you gonna do? We can’t all be blood elves.

I do agree with Ghostcrawler. A lot of that comes from knowing the fights and being able to predict damage, and that only comes with time. These days I find myself topping people off in heroics because I am bored and healing in ret spec, but there was certainly a time not long ago where I didn’t have that… what do you even call that? Luxury? Apathy? [Divine Snarkiness]?

Here are my thoughts to counter the three things I mentioned above, as well as some additional notes:

Lack of movement: We do have an instant cast heal. It’s not the best thing ever, but it’s something. Think of all the baby shamans before they got Riptide! Won’t someone please think of the baby shamans?

That said, Holy Shock is a bit of a mana sponge until your crit and SP are high enough to make it roughly equivalent to a weaker version of Holy Light. While mana isn’t generally an issue for raiding paladins, it certainly can be for the new 80 trying to heal heroics. Still, though. Holy Shock is excellent for movement fights and an Infusion of Light proc will get you an instant cast Flash of Light to boot.

Lack of group-heal: This one, unfortunately, can only be overcome with a swifter reaction time, and that only comes from experience. If you’re losing group members it’s usually for one of four reasons:

People are being very dumb. This one’s largely out of your hands. Try to educate the group respectfully, and if you’re stuck in a heroic with the ‘go go go’ crowd, let them know you’re new to healing.

You’re not utilizing triage successfully. Do yourself a favor and if you use Grid, make sure you have an indicator for aggro. Mine shows a little red box in the upper right corner when someone has aggro and a yellow box around the unit when they are high on the threat table. This will help immensely in knowing who is taking damage now and who is going to be taking it in the future.

You’re not reacting quickly enough. Part of this I believe comes from just watching unit frames. I heal significantly worse when I get Grid tunnel vision than when I actually observe DBM warnings and what’s going on around me. It takes practice, but try to position Grid so that it’s in close sight but not the absolute focus of your screen.

You’re using the wrong tools for the job. Sure, we have three healing spells. But are you using them correctly? Using Holy Shock for Infusion of Light procs? Flash of Light for quick heals during group damage? Holy Light on a new tank? Are you using your Hand spells? Specifically Hand of Protection? How about bubble and Divine Sacrifice?

Queue for a battleground and do some PvP healing. Grab a friend and run some practice arena matches. You’ll learn very quickly what all of your spells do and when to use them. Either that or you’ll die. A lot.

Lack of experience with Beacon: Beacon is a lovely safety net. It allows you to heal two targets at once. In five mans especially, this makes a huge difference. Get some sort of mod or set Grid to notify you when Beacon is falling off. Force yourself to Beacon the tank. You have a multitude of ways to keep yourself alive, and you’ll need to get used to this for healing in raids, anyway.

Healing stress is expected, and I certainly have days (see rant post below…) where it gets the better of me, I’m ashamed to say. But all in all, learning your tools, getting some practice, and finally making that great save is a fitting reward for any stress you might go through as a healer.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 26, 2010 at Friday, February 26, 2010 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


When I first hit 80 I refused to heal. It scared the bajesus out of me to think that this raid group depended so much on a new 80 with blue pieces still proudly displayed. Personally, I feel that paladin healing is something that scales extremely well with gear. When I got the gear I was able to perform to my standards (a.k.a. "everyone lives"). Healing the ToC 5-man is horrible as a pally though. If you're new at healing, don't try that one until you're extremely confident in your skills!

February 26, 2010 at 2:25 PM

I'd have to second what Pheadra says, H ToC 5 man is ridiculously tough for pallies at the "appropriate" gear level, and in my opinion was harder at the time it came out than even H HoR was/is now.

Great blog Dristanel, adding you to my blogroll.

February 26, 2010 at 4:04 PM

I do not know anything about pallies. However, I've been dungeoning on my belf priest for a bit and pvp-healing on her too. To reinforce GC's advice ("Your job isn't to keep everyone at 100%. Your job is to keep anyone from hitting 0%."), pvp a little. This is what I was told the first battleground I entered, and it homed in more there than in a dungeon. When I switched back to dungeoning after a couple of bgs, I found myself triaging better in the dungeons and feeling more relaxed.

February 26, 2010 at 4:26 PM

You should have mentioned judging for "Judgements of the Pure" talent, imo. A lot of new paladin healers at 80 and before 80 don't seem to read their talents at all, so they don't judge for their haste buff. It makes it tremendously easier to heal judging every minute.

March 13, 2010 at 1:21 AM

I'm a resto druid, And personally I think that resto druids are one of the more relaxed healers.

In heroic I barely got any stress, Its just tossing hots on the tank.
Usually im even chatting on msn or watching TV while healing.

In my opinion I think tanking is even more stressful then healing.
You're more responsible for the group.

March 13, 2010 at 5:07 AM

expanding on what the other anonymous said, that, with judgements of the pure, you get a haste buff. I bet most holy pallies arent as stupid as I, but just in case, DON'T DO JoW...hehe...

March 13, 2010 at 7:03 AM

Think of this as 2-tiered.

1) If the tank dies under normal circumstances, be stressed. You need to keep up on the action to do this... pre-hot, know when he's pulling and be ready.

2) If the dps dies, don't stress. Get better at keeping them all alive on your own time. Make it a goal, but don't expect 100% right away.

I think the problem is that good heals can make up for mistakes where dps takes damage when they don't need to. Then these bad habits become part of the game, whether dps doesn't notice, or just expects it to be the heals job to heal them while they stand in the fire to finish their cast.

March 16, 2010 at 11:49 AM

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