Joining the healthcare field is a smart career choice. Healthcare and health services are the largest growing industry in the United States. As the population continues to increase, so do demands on the healthcare industry. In addition, the elderly population is now living longer. It is estimated that the elderly population will more than double, increasing to 80 million people, until 2050. Such an increase in our elderly population puts further demand on the healthcare industry to meet, and care for, these patients in their time of need.
While some professions within the healthcare field demand a long educational investment, such as a Bachelor’s or four year degree, becoming an EMT takes only a short period of time before you are working in your profession.
Before selecting an Emergency Medical Technician program, you must first:
Be eighteen years of age or older
Have your High School diploma or GED
Possess a clean criminal record
Along with these basic requirements, you must also determine if you meet the qualifications of an EMT training program. These qualifications are put forth to ensure you will have the physical and mental aptitude, stamina and character to perform the duties of an EMT. To become a successful EMT you should:
Have good vision (including color) – In the healthcare field, many medications and blood collection tubes use color coding. Patient assessment techniques also require the ability to see color.
Be in good physical health – EMT’s must focus completely on the patient and their care, so good general health is recommended for those wanting to become an EMT.
Possess manual dexterity- Caring for patients in the back of an ambulance, while travelling at high speeds requires the Emergency Medical Technician to perform patient care duties while under less-than ideal conditions.
Be able to lift and move patients – You will need to be able to lift, carry and balance between 125lbs and 250 lbs with assistance. These weight assurances will ensure you will be able to turn, move and carry stabilized patients safely.
Possess a calm temperament, and be able to control your emotions – EMT’s care for patients who are in pain, confused, scared and traumatized. Some patients are under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, causing them to behave wildly erratic. In some situations, a patient’s family member (s), friends or onlookers can also become emotional. During these periods of increased stress, an EMT must maintain a professional and calm demeanor, and control any emotions they may have.
Be able to work in extreme environments – If a construction worker falls on a jobsite during the summer, the EMT’s work in that environment to safely stabilize and transport the patient. If a woman falls in the snow late in the evening, the EMT’s will be kneeling in that snow, caring for the patient. In any environment, accidents can happen and people can become ill. Emergency Medical Technicians must be able to tolerate and work in extreme conditions such as the heat and cold, and other natural elements.
Possess an ability to navigate by road maps or instructions over different terrains – EMT’s are called to restaurants, homes, office buildings and sports fields, as well as roadways, parks and schools. The EMT’s must be able to understand road maps, driving directions and traffic conditions to safely and timely reach the patient. The EMT must also be able to safely negotiate over the different terrains presented to them, in order to reach the patient.
Be able to communicate English – The EMT must be able to communicate in the English language, including reading, writing, and interpreting, while caring for a patient. This allows the EMT to give and receive instructions regarding the patients’ condition, to the hospital or transferring healthcare facility. Without fluent communication, valuable time could be lost or an error could occur during translation.
If you possess the characteristics and qualifications needed to become a successful EMT (Basic), your next step is to select the EMT training program which is right for you. To do this, you should consider the following:
Tuition / costs – Prices range from $500.00 – $1000.00 depending on the school and program you select. Universities typically charge from $800-$1000.00 for EMT basic training, while community colleges range from $400-$1000.00 for their tuition costs. Additional costs may include books, which can cost around $100.00 depending on the program.
You can obtain your training through technical schools, Emergency Medical Services Academies, community colleges and universities. To find one in your area, you can contact the State Emergency Medical Services office or the Committee on Accreditation for EMS Professionals.
It is very important to select an accredited EMT program in your area. An accredited program is one that has met strict guidelines, and is a credible and quality program. In essence, an accredited EMT program is one of excellence through compliance with high standards. The State licensing boards in your State may require the EMT training program you attend be accredited. If it is not, you may be denied your State license, whether you passed a certification exam or not. If you have selected an EMT program in your area and you would like to check its accreditation, simply contact the Committee on Accreditation for EMS Professionals.
Curriculum – The National Highway Safety Administration (Department of the Federal Government) is responsible for each level of EMS training. Typically, the EMT Basic program provides between 120 and 150 hours of training over a period of three to eight months. The length depends on the class hours each week. Some programs provide class each day for those who wish to graduate more quickly. For those who work or are unable to attend full-time, there are longer programs available.
Students will be taught in a classroom setting, as well as didactic instruction, clinical practice in-hospital and field internship (supervised) on an ambulance. The EMT Basic program provides students training in:
Cardiac and respiratory emergencies
Major disasters and childbirth
Trauma management including airway management
Human Anatomy, patient lifting and transportation
Patient assessment, blood control management
Along with the EMT curriculum, students interested in becoming an EMT will also learn CPR. Some programs may require the student to have his or her CPR certification before beginning the program, while other programs teach CPR concurrently. Also known as Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, this life-saving technique follows three main steps, chest compressions, airway checking and rescue breathing, on a person suffering from cardiac arrest.
After successfully completing an EMT training program, students can take the National Emergency Medical Technicians certification exam. Also known as NREMT, this certification states that the EMT meets specific skills and competency requirements for certification and that they will be capable of providing a high level of care to their patients.