What Do You Do? Wednesday

As I get a lot of people coming to me who are unclear on their career path, this weekly posting will be helpful to get a clearer understanding of various industries and careers that you might be considering. I’ll be profiling individuals who work in them and you can hear directly from folks who can give you the ‘low-down’ and inside information. They say that one of the best ways to do so is with information interviews – I’m giving you these. I would still encourage you to go and talk to others, as you will gain more than one perspective. I hope you enjoy these; if there are any particular jobs or industries you’d like to learn more about, feel free and message or contact me (cyscoaching.com).

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) – Melissa A.

What led you into this career?

My early career path was to be a pediatrician but, once I got into college, I didn’t want to spend that many years in school so I decided to become a Physician Assistant, which is a very competitive field. The fastest way to get into PA school is to become either an EMT or a Paramedic, as you need to have hands-on experience to get in.  I started out as a Pharmacy Technician but that experience is not considered for PA school, since there is no direct patient care, so EMT was the quickest path. I did consider becoming a Paramedic, but their schooling is one year  – I would learn the same things; EMT is three months which would allow me to get direct patient care and meet the qualifications for PA school. My grandmother is a nurse, and my mother worked in various management positions in the healthcare industry, so this was a field that was familiar and that I’ve been attracted to.

What appealed to you?

I like helping people and working with children, which is why I wanted to be a  pediatrician. I used to go to work my mom sometimes, so I am comfortable in these settings. I like the variety and options of settings to work in. I currently work in the emergency room of a hospital, so I have get to see a variety of patients and use various skills to help them.

What did it take to get into this field/position

Once I made the decision, I researched schools and talked to friends who were in the field to determine the best choice.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences so I did not have to take any prerequisites. I was still working while going to school, which can be challenging, but I was able to work with my employer on my schedule.

What is the best part of your day?

I like the variety of people I get to interact with, which includes the team I work on, which are other EMT’s, doctors and nurses. We are supportive to each other; along with the variety that each day brings, it makes the day go faster and be more fulfilling.

What is the worst part of the day?

Dealing with illness, and death and dying, can be stressful; sometimes patients can be highly stressed or sick and can be demanding or unreasonable, as can their families. Scheduling can be an issue, especially when people call off and you may be short-staffed. Another issue can be others expectations for their needs, which may not be realistic, or they want it in their own time; we sometimes are called to do several tasks at the same time.

What is the average salary and perks of the job?

This can vary on the setting you work in, as well as the part of the country and/or county in your state. I’d recommend investigating in your area for the average salary. One needs to know that this is not a high-paying salary, even though you are helping to save lives; it’s the satisfaction you get from providing that help one needs to consider. I would say perks can include the work schedule, as you tend to work longer days but have more days off; you can decide which shift you’d like to work; you can have a career without 4 years of college. I guess another ‘perk’ is job opportunity, as this profession needs all types of workers at all times.

How would someone get started in this profession?

I’d recommend learning as much as you can about the industry and the requirements; investigate schools for cost and programming to ensure you will have full capability to provide the proper assistance. I’d also recommend that one looks at the types of agencies who hire EMT’s, such as hospitals or ambulance agencies, and see which ‘fits’ your needs. Be ready to attend classes daily, and do clinical work to help you get hands-on training. There is a test to become certified, so studying, commitment and preparation will help one pass.

What words of advice and/or recommendations would you give to someone considering this profession?

I’d say be sure of why you want to become an EMT and make sure it’s compelling; find a good schedule while going to school and be ready to work when the need is there, not the other way around – the healthcare industry is a 24-7 operation. Do good work, be a team player, and never quit learning. The rewards will come, which may not always be in the form of money, but can come through other opportunities; I am now in nursing school and have been offered a job by my hospital once I graduate, plus I’ve been given the responsibility to train and on-board new hires. I’ve been recognized for my work and this has made me want to go on to have more responsibility and ability to help others, which is why I enrolled in nursing school. I don’t plan on stopping there as I’d like to eventually become a nurse practitioner. It’s all what you make it. Good luck to anyone considering this field.


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