EMT training or hospital volunteer?

Hi all,

Fifteen years ago, in high school, I volunteered around 1000 hours in a county hospital in Brooklyn, NY. I was going to be an MD, then my path veered, bla bla bla, you all know how it is… Now I’m back on The Path, taking my pre-med classes at UCLA, and doing pretty well. My current volunteer work is at a teen homeless shelter, where I’ve been a mentor for about 7 years, so I’ve got the humanitarian thing covered. My question to all of you is, do I need “fresh” medical volunteer hours at a hospital? My three ideas right now are UCLA Medical Center, the Los Angeles Free Clinic, or an EMT class. My favorite idea is EMT class, because my gut says that will end up being the most hands-on experience.

What do you all think?

Thanks in advance for the great advice and personal experiences.

Hello and welcome. This question has been posed before and you can find a great deal of information if you search for it. However, you should know that AdComs are no longer impressed by someone who is an EMT because there are so many premeds becoming EMTs.

If you become an EMT and do nothing with it or volunteer at a hospital and wheel around patients then you wasted your time. If you want to become an EMT, make sure that you spend time on an ambulance. This will accomplish several things.

First, it will show that you became and EMT not just to have those initials after your name or to impress the Adcoms. Second, you will get a taste of what medicine has to offer and to see if this is really what you want to do. Thirdly, you will be providing a much needed service to your community and it will give you interesting stories to talk about in your personal statements and your interviews.

I hope this helps. Again, welcome and ask away.

In my experience, it has been fairly easy to use one’s EMT certification in a rural locale, but the scene becomes a bit more crowded and competitive the more urban your location becomes. There is a definite time committment involved (usually 3-5 months of didactic & skills training, depending on where you are getting the training). The question I would have asked myself is: Is the investment in training time going to be worth the “experience potential” post-certification. In some places, you may find that you’ll have to advance to EMT-I (more training time) to become useful as even a volunteer. Yes, being an EMT is good experience (if you can find someplace to use your training).

Another route you might explore would be to get CNA training. In some ways, I have found that training more useful than some of the EMT training (for my job). CNA training is typically pretty quick and painless. I’m guessing that finding a volunteer gig as a CNA should be pretty easy, and finding a paid gig would be almost as easy. I don’t know any CNAs who make much money, but it is a great source of experience). I have both EMT-B & CNA certifications, and they work pretty well for where I am at the moment. If you’re still interested:




may be helpful to you.

Another thing to think about: Most (not all) EMS services where I live (I don’t know about California) run a 24hrs. on / 48hrs. off shift schedule for their crews. This might be a factor if you plan to take some classes while working in a public services capacity.