Hey guys, quick question…I’m just plain fed up, disgusted and tired of my job (I work at Blue Shield of California and yeah insurance isn’t my thing) so I’m planning to take the EMT Basic class at my college in the Fall and I’m just wondering…if I can’t find a job opening as an EMT, will the certification and the class still be fairly useful knowledge? I would imagine it would be since it’s directly relevant but just wondering how much of an impact it’ll make!
I am a 15 year veteran of EMS as an EMT and I can tell you that if you do not use it, it is worthless to you. Medical schools have said that just because you are an EMT you are not outstanding since so many applicants have become EMTs just to write it down.
If you cannot find a job, there are other avenues that you can pursue. To begin with, there is always patient transport. It is not all glory but you will interact with a lot of patients AFTER they have been treated. You can work in the emergency room or you can volunteer with a FD.
Don’t just get it for the sake of gettig it. It is not easy.
I would investigate the job market for EMT’s in your area. Pay can vary widely, but most private services don’t pay very much (and as a green EMT, you’re unlikely to get a job with a public/county service unless you know somebody).
As Gabe eluded, EMT certification seems to be the “in” thing for pre-meds to currently do. So, holding an EMT certification is not going to gain you any advantages in applying. I was rather amazed at the number of fellow interviewee’s who had the cert, but had never used it and were SO impressed that I actually several years of experience. If you aren’t going to be able to use the training either as a volunteer or because you can’t get a job, its not worth it.
EMT can get you some great clinical experience and exposure to patients if you can get a gig at a good service. As far as the usefulness of the training - EMT basic training is pretty, well, basic. While interesting, its not going to give you any kind of advantage in medical school. So, unless you’re TRULY interested, don’t take it and don’t quit your job until you explore the job market.
Well, I think maybe my question was misinterpreted as me primarily getting the EMT cert to “look good” for med school, which is not the case. As I said, I really do simply hate my job and I want to do a job that is both more relevant to my interests and more personally satisfying. I don’t think pay is really an issue because I only make $26,300 a year at my job anyways, not too hard to match that. I did check out the job market and AMR has 1 opening here atleast right now and the local hospital has 3 openings…whoever said I need to know someone to get on at a hospital without experience, well my stepdad does know the hospital administrator at the local hospital so I could probably arrange something, but I prefer to do things on my own without influence so I plan to avoid that if at all possible.
Hell, I wouldn’t even be opposed to moving to the Sacramento area if I got a job offering there at AMR, come to think of it…I plan to go to Davis anyways so if I’m already settled into the area it’ll make life easier.
- njbmd Said:
- Tim Said:
Hell, I wouldn't even be opposed to moving to the Sacramento area if I got a job offering there at AMR, come to think of it...I plan to go to Davis anyways so if I'm already settled into the area it'll make life easier.
I don't know what EMTs can do under California law but loads of folks in Virginia get the EMT and work in the Emergency Department as Patient Care Technicians. They have a fairly broad scope of practice and get to observer loads of things at the same time. See if you can use your EMT for something like that.
Most of the folks that I have spoken with find that the EMT is fairly useful for getting clinical exposure and getting paid at the same time. Besides, if you really love the sex and violence, you can do some ambulance runs with the paramedics too.
Thanks for the heads up Natalie, I'll have to look into that...probably would be useful experience especially since I'm thinking about emergency medicine these days just because I'm sort of an adrenaline junkie. This actually brings up a question, would EMT work experience count as my clinical exposure or would that still have to be separate?
If you are working with patients as an EMT and you would be if you did ambulance work or worked in an ED, that would qualify as clinical exposure.
You would still want to shadow a physician which again, you could probably do while you were working as an EMT and get paid at the same time.
Hi Tim -
I didn’t misinterpret what you were saying - I was more reacting to the part where you said you were wondering how much of an impact it would make.
If you are truly interested in EMS and will be able to get a couple of years in using your certification, then by all means, go for it. I just wanted you to be aware that having the certification per se is not necessarily as big of an advantage as a lot of pre-meds think. As Natalie alluded, some of your training might also get you out of some mandated training at medical school. In the right situation, you can also get very comfortable being around patients, taking histories, and things of that nature.
As long as you can find a job that suits your monetary needs, go for it. Like I said though - thoroughly check out your job market. Talk to people. AMR (as well as most private ambulance services) are notorious for having incredibly high turnover rates. From what I’ve heard, the pay at AMR isn’t bad, but find out if the pay will be enough. I was getting $7.75/hr as an EMT-I working for a private service - paramedics were getting $9/hr. Most people don’t expect to go into EMS for the money, but make sure you know if you will be able to afford to live on whatever the going pay rate is in your area. In some areas it can be very easy to get a job, but in other areas the market is saturated with EMT’s and the business can be very cliquey. (When I moved to go back to school, I had a difficult time finding a job with a private service, despite my several years of EMS experience and the number of services because I didn’t KNOW anybody.)
EMS is the reason that I decided to go back to medical school. I love emergency medicine and will probably specialize in it. I tend to be a little cautionary when people start asking about getting the EMT cert and etc, because most people have a misconception of what the life of an EMT is really like. (Thank you, ER ) Most pre-meds also tend to think that the cert will be a lot more useful to them than it probably is.
Good luck with your decision!
Thanks for the info guys, it’s much appreciated! Yeah I already figured the pay wasn’t too great for EMT basics because it’s an entry-level position and those usually don’t pay too well. My best friend actually lives in Southern California though and in Los Angeles county (which according to him is the most poorly paid county for AMR in Cali) they start EMT basics at $8/hr…how were you able to make ends meet with that kind of wage though? Do they give you a lot of overtime? I wouldn’t mind doing overtime to make up the difference in pay because I really do hate my job that much but as you said I’d like to get as good of a picture of the financial aspect of being an EMT before jumping into it. I’m also going to have my stepdad ask the hospital administrator he knows what they pay their EMTs too…wouldn’t hurt.
I would just call up AMR and ask the pay question but I think I’ll wait a day or two since I’m pretty sure my EMT friend in SoCal knows since he’s transferring to Sacramento and if I had to relocate that’s where I’d want to relocate to since Davis is near there.
Overtime varies widely. If you get on full time and work 24/48’s, you usually get 8 hours of overtime a week. Depending on the company, every third week you could get an extra 24 hours of overtime. Most companies give you the day off - a “Kelly” day. However, 24/48’s aren’t going to work out well with school. AMR probably has a variety of shifts available - 8s, 10s, 12s and maybe 24s. You’ll have to ask around about the overtime. In my area, the guaranteed overtime is what makes your piddly hourly wage livable. That is good and well until you lose your overtime. When I got cut back to 40 hours last summer, my paycheck literally was almost half of what it was before with my overtime. As far as living on $8/hr . . . I didn’t. My husband paid most of the living expenses. I made my car payment and a few other bills out of that.
Another consideration is insurance. AMR probably offers insurance to its employees, but I doubt very much that they pay for it all. You could be looking at a significant amount a month deducted from your pay to carry insurance coverage. If you can get it at a hospital, the pay is probably slightly better and the insurance coverage will be much better.
Ok, I checked with my friend Paul since he already works for AMR and was trying to transfer to Sacramento…he can’t transfer because they want to keep them in LA but they atleast told him what the pay is for an EMT and in Sacramento for AMR it’s $13.50/hr starting so I can live on that. Yeah I agree the 24/48s would really suck with school involved in there…my friend has worked so many different shifts though that I’ll probably have to take whatever they give me, it sounds like they bounced him around a lot unless he volunteered for all of it (I know he volunteered for the 24s because he wanted the OT, not sure on the other shifts he’s had). Anyhow, I atleast called AHA and got a BLS course slated for the 21st if I can get the time off so the ball’s moving atleast.
I got my EMT-B back in 1994 and used for a couple of years as a volunteer while I went to school. It’s been said before, but you definitely loose it if you don’t use it. Especially in my area, there was no way to keep up with the CE requirements if you weren’t affiliated with a local fire or ambulance service. I recently returned to community college with the intention of getting EMT-P certified, but an old friend (many years a paramedic himself) as well as my instructors at school strongly encourgaed me to take a crack at the pre-med classes because a) my friend knows me well enough to know I won’t be happy in EMS for very long (after the novelty fades, there’s not much left but long hours and inadequate pay [his words]) and b) my instructors seem to think I have the apptitude for it. It helps that med school is something I’ve always dreamed about anyway.
I’m using my EMT cert. now (in conjunction with a Nursing Assistant cert.) at a local Urgent Care Center. I highly recommend it. For me, it has been a great opportunity to polish those patient assesment skills that get rusty if you don’t use them a bunch. You’d also be surprised how much more sense the pre-req classes make when you work in a venue where you can see where they may apply (integrative experience is a great motivator, too!)
So yeah… EMT certification, thumbs up, if you can apply it. Otherwise, the time might be better spent jacking up the GPA. =)