If you could go back to the start of your EMS career and give yourself advice, what would it be?

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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Work part time in a busy urban EMS agency. one or two days a week. get as many patient contacts as you can. the more patient contacts you have, the better provider you will be.

work in a ****ty system, that is grossly understaffed and underfunded, so you can keep in perspective how bad things could be.

when looking at a job, DON'T consider OT potential. Yes, you can work 80 hours a week and make tons of OT, but if you don't want to, and just want to work your 40 hour weeks, how much of a hurting will it put on your personal finances?
 

RocketMedic

King of the Improbable
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Don’t speak, do run, and don’t let anger or frustration motivate you.

Also, you can’t fix stupid, lazy or uncaring.
 

hometownmedic5

Forum Asst. Chief
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No patient, no job, not even your license is worth your long term health. As soon as you are able to identify opposition to the above, it's time to make a change whether that means finding a new partner who doesn't push back when you want to call for additional help, or finding a new job when your company tells you "there's no help available and that other crew did it just fine so maybe just do the call and shut up about it".

There are about a million ways this job is bad for your health. Identify them, avoid them when possible, mitigate them when not, and never stop believing that you are more important than your bosses wallet.
 

rescue1

Forum Asst. Chief
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Work out--even a few days a week lifting weights or jogging is better than nothing. Specifically training your back and legs since those are what you abuse every day on the truck. Relatedly, try not to get fat, as that will make the back/knees thing even harder.

Don't take abuse of the 911 system or the numerous failings of the US healthcare/social services systems personally. The sooner you accept that 80% of your job is not life and death emergencies, the happier you will be.

Your EMT class is kindergarten level in the world of medical education. Keep reading/studying. If you're going to stay in EMS, go to medic school quickly.

Have a backup plan, like a college degree, other skill, etc. EMS is a physically hard, low paying job in most places and has little room for advancement. Lots of people on this board went to nursing school, medical school, switched to fire based or flight systems, etc.
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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For those that are saying go to medic school quickly, I have to disagree. I went to medic school after 15 years in EMS. We have a few zero to heroes in class too; several didn't make it, several made it and now don't work in EMS, and 2 are working full time in EMS.

I would have gone to medic school earlier (after working in a busy 911 system for 3 or 4 years) but I have seen too many newbie medics with no experience stumble during their first real job, get tunnel vision, develop paragod complexes, or have no idea what to do when **** goes downhill, because they just don't have the experience.

I'm glad I worked in EMS Comms for a few years, in Special Ops for a few years, as well as IFT and 911, before I even considered paramedic school.

Now, if you are in a system where your nothing if your not a paramedic, then absolutely go to paramedic school, because your opportunities for advancement increase significantly. Ditto completing your associates and bachelors degree. But there are still plenty of systems where you don't need a degree to advance, and you can not be a paramedic and be an integral member of the management team.
 

hometownmedic5

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For those that are saying go to medic school quickly, I have to disagree. I went to medic school after 15 years in EMS. We have a few zero to heroes in class too; several didn't make it, several made it and now don't work in EMS, and 2 are working full time in EMS.

I would have gone to medic school earlier (after working in a busy 911 system for 3 or 4 years) but I have seen too many newbie medics with no experience stumble during their first real job, get tunnel vision, develop paragod complexes, or have no idea what to do when **** goes downhill, because they just don't have the experience.

I'm glad I worked in EMS Comms for a few years, in Special Ops for a few years, as well as IFT and 911, before I even considered paramedic school.

Now, if you are in a system where your nothing if your not a paramedic, then absolutely go to paramedic school, because your opportunities for advancement increase significantly. Ditto completing your associates and bachelors degree. But there are still plenty of systems where you don't need a degree to advance, and you can not be a paramedic and be an integral member of the management team.
While I haven’t been keeping good records, my gut reaction to your post is to say that I probably have known just as many silverback basics who either failed at medic school or came out crappy medics and I know shake and bake medics who are rock stars. I think its heavily dependent on the person as an individual, the school they went to, and the quality of the support they received during their first two years or so as a medic.
 

Onceamedic

Forum Asst. Chief
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go directly to nursing school.... paramedic was fun, but ultimately dead ended in career advancement, scope of practice and engagement
 

NomadicMedic

EMS Edumacator
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go directly to nursing school.... paramedic was fun, but ultimately dead ended in career advancement, scope of practice and engagement
I can’t understand people who say this.

I’ve never had an issue finding a place where I could advance, make more than enough money to live very comfortably and practice at a level where I felt like I didn’t have abroad enough scope.

Does that make me an oddity? I guess if it was easy, everyone would do it.
 

mgr22

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I can’t understand people who say this.

I’ve never had an issue finding a place where I could advance, make more than enough money to live very comfortably and practice at a level where I felt like I didn’t have abroad enough scope.

Does that make me an oddity? I guess if it was easy, everyone would do it.
I agree. I think there are lots of side issues -- education, expectations, ambition, personality, family, finances -- that could get in the way of any paramedic's career, but I don't see paramedicine having to be a dead end.
 

GMCmedic

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I can’t understand people who say this.

I’ve never had an issue finding a place where I could advance, make more than enough money to live very comfortably and practice at a level where I felt like I didn’t have abroad enough scope.

Does that make me an oddity? I guess if it was easy, everyone would do it.
I dont get it either.
 

hometownmedic5

Forum Asst. Chief
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I'm sick to death of people just assuming that nursing is the natural and inevitable progression of the career arc of an EMT. If you want to be a nurse, fine, no judgement; but why bother with the pit stop in EMS? Just so you can **** on the industry forever?
 

StCEMT

Forum Deputy Chief
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I'm sick to death of people just assuming that nursing is the natural and inevitable progression of the career arc of an EMT. If you want to be a nurse, fine, no judgement; but why bother with the pit stop in EMS? Just so you can **** on the industry forever?
I love EMS, but I'm still considering nursing. If I decide flight is where I want to focus my efforts, why not get paid more to work at the same place? I also think something like ICU could compliment a full time EMS job that was truly progressive pretty well. But I also don't hate my job, so different perspective....
 

Peak

ED/Prehospital Registered Nurse
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The reality is that (generally speaking) the EMS environment had a lot of room to improve for many people be it scope of practice, pay, job satisfaction, advancement, and so on.

It's easier to go to nursing school than move to some far away service or spend an entire career to eventually be able to make substantial changes that benefit the staff or clinicians. Or after a few years of school I can get a job almost anywhere, and if I don't like my job I can easily find another (almost always with a substantially better salary with a few more years of experience).

I also get to work in a subspecialties where I really like all of the patients I care for, I get a lovely HVAC controlled environment, I have a bathroom available, families love us, we are one of the most trusted professions, I feel much safer than when I was in the field (even when I pick up adult ED shifts), I have more support in managing patients (other RNs, APRNs, PAs, Docs, RTs, pharmacists, and so on), and I make about three times more than when I was on fire.

My last shift I spent most of my night caring for two very cute heart babies, had a short excursion to teach a super old school procedure that I hadn't done in over a decade (and the family was very appreciative that we were able to keep them out of the OR), and got some excitement in establishing a critical airway.
 
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TransportJockey

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Onceamedic

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I didn't mean to imply that nursing was in any way an inevitable or natural progression from EMS. I was speaking from a strictly personal point of view. I have no interest in management, or in substantiating change or progression within the industry. My interest has always been direct patient care. EMS was killing me with the long shifts and the low pay. I voted with my feet.
Your mileage may vary.
 
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