Paramedic and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Careers

If you want a fast-paced career in the medical field, you may want to look into becoming a paramedic or an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

Both professions require you to be quick on your feet and care for injured and sick patients in medical emergencies. Paramedics and EMTs need to know how to care for patients in demanding and unique settings, such as in the back of an ambulance or other emergency response vehicles. Regardless if you are a paramedic or an EMT, you will find yourself working in a stressful environment. The stressful environment is not just physical, but it is also mental. EMTs and paramedics are often involved with patients in life-or-death situations, and these encounters require that they always be alert and paying attention. Although the paramedics and EMTs might have stressful jobs, they also know the reward of helping a patient in dire need.

What is the difference between a paramedic and an EMT?

While paramedics and EMTs may have similar job descriptions, it is crucial to know that they are not the same. An EMT, sometimes called an EMT-Basic, is someone who cares for a patient at the scene of an accident in which they are called. From there, they transport the patient, or patients, by an ambulance to the hospital. While in route to the hospital, they often evaluate a patient’s health. They are also trained to perform any emergency respiratory, trauma and cardiac services, if needed. Some EMTs, Advanced EMTs or EMT-Intermediate, have additional training that allows them to complete more medical procedures that an EMT-Basic cannot perform, such as giving certain medications.

Paramedics, on the other hand, have more medical training, which allows them to give patients more extensive care on the route to the hospital. These tasks include oral or intravenous medication administration and use of certain medical equipment. They are also qualified to use and read complex monitors and equipment, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs), which are used to monitor a patient’s heart. While many distinct roles separate an EMT from a paramedic, it is important to note that specific procedures or tasks that they are allowed to perform will vary depending on the state in which they are employed.

What are the duties of paramedics and EMTs?

Paramedics and EMTs are trained to administer the necessary medical care required with the least amount of equipment in an emergency setting. They respond to 911 calls for emergency medical assistance, like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and perform first-aid treatments. One such type of care is offering life support care. After they have assessed a patient’s health condition and they have determined a course of medical treatment, they will have to document all of the medical care that is administered. That way, they can pass the information on to the patient’s nurses and doctors at the hospital.

The paramedic of EMT will transport patients to the appropriate healthcare facility. Upon arrival, they will need to tell the nurses, physicians, or other healthcare staff members the observations that they have made about the patient, as well as any medications and treatments that they administered. It is also common for paramedics and EMTs to transport patients from one type of medical facility to another. For example, some patients need to be transferred to a hospital that specializes in specific injuries, illnesses or long-term care.

Where can I work as a paramedic or an EMT?

The majority of paramedics and EMTs work in ambulance services, while others work for government services, such as fire departments. Others in these positions also work in local, state and private hospitals. Many paramedics and EMTs are employed full-time, as it is common for them to work more than 40 hours each week. Many paramedics and EMTs work overnight and on weekends, since they must be available in emergency scenarios. Typical shifts for paramedics and EMTs are 12 or 24 hours. The median annual salary for paramedics and EMTs is currently around $33,000. The lower ten percent earn around $21,000 while the highest 10 percent earn close to $57,000.

What education is required to become a paramedic or an EMT?

Most paramedics and EMTs complete a postsecondary educational program. Before completing such a program, you will need to show proof of either a high school diploma or an equivalent education degree. You will also need to be CPR certified. Most of the postsecondary programs can be completed in less than a year, while others can last up to two. It is worth noting that most of the programs do not award degrees. And if you want to pursue a career as a paramedic, it is likely that you will need to obtain an associate’s degree in emergency medical technology. Most community colleges, technical institutes, and universities offer programs in emergency medical technology. Alternatively, you can sign up for a facility that specifically offers emergency care training.

Paramedics and EMTs are certified at the national level by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). To be certified, you must pass the required education programs and national exam, which consists of written and practical sections. In some states, an NREMT certification qualifies for licensure for a paramedic or EMT. But some states do not require national certification but do require a state exam that is equivalent to the national accreditation. But, all states require paramedics and EMTs to be licensed, though the requirements may vary by state. It is common for states to conduct background checks on all applicants and a license can be withheld if the applicant has a criminal history.

What is the job outlook for paramedics and EMTs?

The job outlook for paramedics and EMTs is expected to grow over the next decade. As long as there are emergencies like natural disasters, car crashes, and violent acts, employment opportunities will be made available for paramedics and EMTs. Aging populations will always need emergency medical services for instances of heart attacks and other such conditions that can occur with little to no warning. Lastly, as specialized medical facilities continue to be constructed, paramedics and EMTs will be needed to transport patients to the different facilities to receive treatment.

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