Will this look bad?

So I’ve been an EMT for a little over a year. I’m looking at getting a non-medical job, however, due to the horrible pay that EMTs get and a lot of differences I have with the management at the ambulance company I work for (in a nutshell, gross incompetence which I don’t like). Will this look bad when it comes time to applying to med schools since I’ll be in a completely non-medically related job despite having been in one for at least 1 year?

I would imagine the pay of an EMT alone, even without the disagreements with management, would be sufficient explanation but I know how ridiculous and illogical the application process is which is why I ask. I may continue to be an EMT part-time, but due to the fact that I have no idea how many hours the companies I’m interviewing at would want me to work for part-time, I’m not sure I’ll continue to do EMT work at this point.

You have some medical experience, so IMO you should do what you need to do. If you can make time, you might look for shadowing opportunities even if it only produces a limited number of hours. You didn’t mention looking for a full time EMT position with a different company, but I don’t know your situation or what the landscape in your area looks like.

I have thirteen years’ experience as a paramedic and a degree in Emergency Management. This one thing I can tell you…There are no standards for EMS management in this country, so incompetence rules.

As far as ad coms go, some have a grasp of EMS and others still think it’s a non-medical job. I actually had a family practice doc this summer suggest that I look for something more “medically related”. The best you can hope for is an opportunity to explain how your EMS experience has influenced your interest in professional medicine.


I was in a similar situation long time ago! I was a volunteer in a local hospital and I really didn’t like it! Even though I knew that ad coms were looking for some kind of hospital experience, I couldn’t (and didn’t) convince myself to keep doing this! I knew there was something I would like and actually put more heart into… and this is how I became a hospice volunteer (which turned out to be exactly what I was looking for)!

So my advice is: do what you like! There is plenty of opportunities out there and you’ll be able to show your altruistic personality doing other things! You don’t have to be employed in a health care setting to ‘prove’ you have what it takes to become a physician! And I don’t think you’ll have to explain it in detail to ad coms… money is a legitimate reason to look for a new job (especially that you’ll need lots of it to pay for med school!!!)


Have you considered looking for a tech position within an ER? Usually hospitals pay a little better…you can work shifts, but not where you have to work 24 hours straight.


I worked as a nurse asst/tech in the ED while going to nursing school (my 1st job before med school). I could work 12 hour nights or evenings each weekend and go to school during the week. They loved the w/e help - who wants to work w/e’s?

But if that is not a possiblity, I think you need to do whatever will make you happy. I agree when asked: #1 don’t bad mouth the EMS unit (never bad mouth anyone) #2 state that you had to switch to make more money to pay for school/family/whatever…makes you seem responsible.

Just my $.02

Rachel Yealy, DO

Emergency Medicine

Yeah, I already took the sales job anyway, I’m going to start working it up to the point where I can completely separate myself from the ambulance company I work for.

I would look for a ER tech position, however, I’m aware of how limited most ER tech jobs are as far as what they can do and I’m not going to run around for 12 hours taking vitals.

As far as badmouthing the EMS unit, yeah, I never talk negatively about anything during an interview since that’s not really the best way to get a positive impression of yourself in the eyes of the interviewer. Plus the only person holding the company together right now is planning to leave very soon, so at this point I could care less about what looks good since I don’t want to be around when the train wreck happens. The latest and greatest is that they may be getting a 911 contract, but since they claim it’s a low call volume, they’re basically telling us that they want us to work a 24 hour shift for free and they’ll pay for food and gas. No thanks.