Did working as a CNA help you as an EMT

joeshmoe

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I'm wondering if any EMTs or Medics out there that used to be, or currently are CNAs find it beneficial for working in EMS. I got my EMT license but there are no jobs for EMTs in the remote location I live. Theres one paid ambulance service in the area but they are ALS and want medics, or at least EMTs with significant experience.

I just volunteer as an EMT and put the EMS career on hold and started working as a CNA. Ive work at a long term care facility for the last year and a half, which is an extremely back breaking and difficult job, and has pretty limited application to EMS, but I recently took a job on a med/surg floor at the only hospital in the area. I'm wondering if that might be a little more beneficial since my goal is to eventually become a paramedic, or if the job is still so different that its not going to matter much. The hospital here doesnt have ER techs, RNs do it all.
 

Katy

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Well, it's good that you are at least considering expanding you knowledge. Now, as far as your main concern is, CNA training isn't exactly going to be that useful in the EMS world. Now, if you are a Pre-Nursing Student, it would be a very useful job along with your EMT career, however, if you are simply planning on going on to a Paramedic or even staying at the EMT level it wouldn't be very beneficial. The skills and knowledge you obtain in CNA class isn't as much as many would think, you get a basic understanding of the body, vitals, and what urine and feces should appear like. Clinically speaking, that is the most you learn in reality, with a few things I may be leaving out. However, you also learn much more, like the correct way to make a bed, among other skills that are necessary for a nursing career, but it wouldn't be beneficial much in a sense for the Pre-Hospital environment.
 

Iceman26

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Working as a tech in the ER would be a lot more beneficial than being a CNA up on the floors, but that's still better than doing nothing at all. It's patient contact, period. So you can learn how to deal with patients and how to talk to them, basic vitals, etc, so it'll help some, but being a tech in the ER would be way better (depending on the hospital/staff and how much you're allowed to do, of course) so it's unfortunate your hospital doesn't use those. That's unusual, I haven't heard of many ER's that don't have at least one tech.

All that said, I'd still try and at least volunteer as an EMT to continue to at least get some field experience. Ideally, working both prehospital and in-hospital is the best when it comes to preparing to be a paramedic.
 

firetender

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If you take yourself seriously...

when you say you want to move up the EMS ladder then use whatever you do in the clinical setting to learn.

FIRST, it's about working with human beings who are not quite able to help themselves. How do you connect (if at all)?

NEXT, I'd say you're in a medical environment so learn about disease entities and their manifestations; read a lot of charts, do evaluations of the patient's current status when you can.
 

JJR512

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I have a related question I'd like to piggyback here, if I may.

By training, what can CNAs do that EMTs can't?

The reason I ask is there are some jobs ("patient care technician" in some of the local hospitals, for example) that list CNA as the only formal training required to be considered for the job.

I'd like to know if it's reasonable for me to try to apply for a "CNA required" job and explain to the interviewer that, as an EMT, I've been taught most of what CNAs are taught and can figure out the rest.
 

Katy

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I have a related question I'd like to piggyback here, if I may.

By training, what can CNAs do that EMTs can't?

The reason I ask is there are some jobs ("patient care technician" in some of the local hospitals, for example) that list CNA as the only formal training required to be considered for the job.

I'd like to know if it's reasonable for me to try to apply for a "CNA required" job and explain to the interviewer that, as an EMT, I've been taught most of what CNAs are taught and can figure out the rest.

-Make beds
-Assist patients to the bathroom
-Oral hygiene
-Assist in nutrition and eating
-Moving patients
-Identifying proper urine and waste to the nurse
-Assist in walking
All these skills and more are not taught in the EMT course, hence why there are two different courses for the two different providers. To me, it wouldn't be reasonable as the job requirements specifically state for CNA training, which simply isn't given in EMT class. Just because you can figure it out, doesn't mean you are properly doing the procedure. And no, there are many things CNA's are taught that EMT's aren't, mostly dealing with long-term patients, which aren't exactly EMT's strengths.
 
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joeshmoe

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JJr512....CNA training is very different from EMT training to be honest. When I first took the training I already had my EMT license and felt it was just a waste of time and that there was nothing I could learn, it was just a requirement to work as an aide. But the reality is that if I had just been set loose working as a CNA with only my EMT training I would have failed miserably.

You learn different ways of transferring and ambulating people with a variety of conditions and limitations, using everything from a transfer or sliding board, gait belt and WC, hoyer lifts, EZ stands etc. Which all sounds easier than it is in reality. You learn about Foley care, Ostomy care, skin care, perineal care, NG tubes, end of life and post mortem care, nutrition, repositioning to prevent skin ulcers, bed baths, making occupied beds, medical terminology, very basic A&P, and a lot about infection control and hygeine. How to feed people, prepare food for people with dysphagia, thickening liquids. Recording I and O. Administering o2, Monitoring BG, And of course vital signs(and unlike some EMTs who manage to get their license without being able to accurately take BP, CNAs are tested on that by the state and if if you dont get within 5mm hg for both numbers you fail.) You also obviously are taught about dementia, things like aphasia. Charting, use of restraints, etc. Oh yeah and the wonderful CNA duty of wipin butts and giving enemas.

Thats a real basic run down. Some classes might teach other things like discontinuing NG tubes and IVs, but I learned that stuff on the job. Patient care tech can mean a lot more, like doing blood draws and 12 leads and other things, or it can just mean normal CNA stuff.

Its actually a lot of stuff to learn, but very little seems to be particularly important in EMS, where you are rarely with a patient for more than an hour.

In reality CNA school is a LOT easier than actually doing the job, and a lot of aides quit after they find out what its like. That might be the case with EMS as well, I dont know since Ive only been able to volunteer as an EMT with my local FD and MFRs, and havent found work as a paid EMT.
 

Katy

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Working as a tech in the ER would be a lot more beneficial than being a CNA up on the floors, but that's still better than doing nothing at all. It's patient contact, period. So you can learn how to deal with patients and how to talk to them, basic vitals, etc, so it'll help some, but being a tech in the ER would be way better (depending on the hospital/staff and how much you're allowed to do, of course) so it's unfortunate your hospital doesn't use those. That's unusual, I haven't heard of many ER's that don't have at least one tech.

All that said, I'd still try and at least volunteer as an EMT to continue to at least get some field experience. Ideally, working both prehospital and in-hospital is the best when it comes to preparing to be a paramedic.
In some hospitals, the CNA's are considered techs but simply aren't called that.
 
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joeshmoe

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Thanks for the replies. I was just debating whether it was worth continuing to risk my back as a CNA for what would be diminishing returns regarding skills and experience relatable to EMS. Or whether I should just bite the bullet and move to where I can work in EMS before going for my Paramedic.

When I did my EMT clinicals two of the best Paramedics I did ride alongs with mentioned being CNAs before they were EMTs, which is partly what motivated me to get my CNA(that and a desire to pay the bills).

I guess I have learned a lot about interacting with people, since being a CNA seems to be more customer service oriented, for lack of a better term. CNAs that tend not to be well liked by patients and residents usually dont last long, regardless of their other strengths, whereas a lot of EMTs and medics seem to be more just the facts m'am when interacting with patients, which is understandable since you do have to cut to the chase and get to the bottom of whats going on.
 

Sasha

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Working as a CNA is beneficial in my opinion. You learn how to move patients and deal with the infirmed. How is that NOT beneficial? Moving patients safely is one of the most important aspects of an emt and medics job.

You see the longterm effects of diseases and have actual diagnosis to work off of so you will be able to recognize them in the field.

You will be exposed to equipment not normally seen by the average emt. Vents, jp drains, peg tubes, j tubes, urostomies, bili drains, wound vacs, flexiseals... so when you have those once in awhile calls where you take a long term home healthcare pt to the er you can at least have a general idea about what theyre on.

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Katy

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Thanks for the replies. I was just debating whether it was worth continuing to risk my back as a CNA for what would be diminishing returns regarding skills and experience relatable to EMS. Or whether I should just bite the bullet and move to where I can work in EMS before going for my Paramedic.

When I did my EMT clinicals two of the best Paramedics I did ride alongs with mentioned being CNAs before they were EMTs, which is partly what motivated me to get my CNA(that and a desire to pay the bills).

I guess I have learned a lot about interacting with people, since being a CNA seems to be more customer service oriented, for lack of a better term. CNAs that tend not to be well liked by patients and residents usually dont last long, regardless of their other strengths, whereas a lot of EMTs and medics seem to be more just the facts m'am when interacting with patients, which is understandable since you do have to cut to the chase and get to the bottom of whats going on.
Yes, it is certainly worth it because a lot of EMT's don't have good patient contact because they don't get much experience with it. CNA training will improve that aspect of your skills and make you a better EMT. CNA skills as far as R.O.M. and urine output can also be useful.
 

Iceman26

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In some hospitals, the CNA's are considered techs but simply aren't called that.

Yeah I know, what I was referring to is that his hospital has no CNAs/techs in the ER and being one in the ER would be a lot more beneficial than being one up on the floors even though even working up on the floors would be beneficial as well.
 

Akulahawk

EMT-P/ED RN
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While the two jobs are very different, as is the training, working as a CNA can most definitely help in learning to communicate with people. That is a skill that is not well taught.
 

firecoins

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considering the nursing home CNAs I have run into:rofl:, no it wouldn't help!
 

Tigger

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I'd like to know if it's reasonable for me to try to apply for a "CNA required" job and explain to the interviewer that, as an EMT, I've been taught most of what CNAs are taught and can figure out the rest.

I don't think you are going to have much luck with this, especially considering that just like EMTs, there are plenty of CNAs out there and the facility would probably rather hire a CNA that actually received training relevant to the job at hand. No sane employer hires someone who says that they will just "figure out" the core aspects of the job as they go along. That employee is the one that everyone hates since they spend all day picking up his slack, at least at first.

There's also overlap between EMTs and RNs but I don't think you could get a nursing position by saying you're an EMT and can just figure out the rest...
 

JJR512

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There's also overlap between EMTs and RNs but I don't think you could get a nursing position by saying you're an EMT and can just figure out the rest...

Poor analogy. You're using an example where there's very little overlap between EMT-B and RN and using that as an example to prove that an EMT-B would make a poor employee for a position where there is a lot of overlap.
 

Katy

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There's also overlap between EMTs and RNs but I don't think you could get a nursing position by saying you're an EMT and can just figure out the rest...
There is very little to no overlap of what RN's and EMT's do on a regular basis, and far far too much of a gap in knowledge for it to even be considered.
 
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joeshmoe

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Poor analogy. You're using an example where there's very little overlap between EMT-B and RN and using that as an example to prove that an EMT-B would make a poor employee for a position where there is a lot of overlap.

But thats the point, that there isnt much overlap between the two jobs. Both take vital signs and interact with patients, and thats about it.

If its not an actual state requirement that you be a CNA, which it probably is, you MAY be able to bluff your way through the interview if the supervisor who does the hiring doesnt know much about EMT training. The problem would come when you have to actually do the job. Everything would be brand new to you, even the terminology used. Nurses Ive worked with arent particularly patient when it comes to coworkers not knowing their job, be it other RNs or aides, so learning everything on the job would be tough. They dont say Nurses eat their young for nothing lol
 

Katy

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But thats the point, that there isnt much overlap between the two jobs. Both take vital signs and interact with patients, and thats about it.

If its not an actual state requirement that you be a CNA, which it probably is, you MAY be able to bluff your way through the interview if the supervisor who does the hiring doesnt know much about EMT training. The problem would come when you have to actually do the job. Everything would be brand new to you, even the terminology used. Nurses Ive worked with arent particularly patient when it comes to coworkers not knowing their job, be it other RNs or aides, so learning everything on the job would be tough. They dont say Nurses eat their young for nothing lol
Even if it is possible for him to "bluff" his way through, I would never support it or do anything to encourage it. The trainings are very different, and the EMT is going to know next to nothing when it comes to ADL and a lot of them don't even realize how the hospital works. Same as I wouldn't throw a CNA on a rig unless it dealt with someone from long-term care and/or rehabilitation.
 

Tigger

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Poor analogy. You're using an example where there's very little overlap between EMT-B and RN and using that as an example to prove that an EMT-B would make a poor employee for a position where there is a lot of overlap.

Poor idea thinking you can waltz into a CNA/Patient Care Tech interview and tell a potential employer that you do not have the training requested in the position description, but instead have "similar" training and that you could just figure out the rest on your own. There's a reason that the facility is looking for a candidate with CNA training and not EMT training.

There is not a lot of overlap between CNAs and EMTs. One sees the patients for maybe several hours if they work in the ED, the other may see the same patient day in day out for years. The skills required to take care of the sick and infirm in the long term setting are very different from those of EMS, where the goal is to you know, get the patient to definitive care sooner rather than later.
 
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