Is EMT really as easy as everyone makes it out to be?

DrParasite

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Disclaimer: I took my original EMT course in NJ in 1998, and then took my NY EMT course in 2001. Since then I haven't taking a full EMT class.

EMT is really just a basic first aid class with some extras.
it's the entry level medical equivalent to working the grill at McDonald's.

Most of us (meaning people who have been on this forum for more than a few years) haven't taken an original EMT class in more than 5 years.

I can tell you that my original EMT textbook (Brady Emergency Care, 8th edition), is half the size of the current Brady care, 13th edition. which has fewer pages than the AAOS Emergency Care And Transportation Of The Sick And Injured (Orange Book Series) 10th Edition. So there is more content in the course.

I was speaking to two probationary firefighters on my fire department. They are taking their initial EMT course through the local community college, and the current average grade for all the students is 69. That's not a typo, the average grade isn't even 70.

I know in the classes that I have taught (I teach at a different community college), we have dropped people who failed several written exams or who aren't able to maintain the grades mandated by the program. When I went through the class, the program didn't get paid unless the students completed the entire program, so there was an incentive not to drop anyone before the state final; now that money is required upfront, that isn't the case.

We have people come here saying they failed the NREMT exam, and certain people say it's easy, when they haven't taken the exam in question in years. I last took the NREMT in 2014, and while I didn't think it was terribly difficult, there were questions that I had no idea what the answers were.

I'm not saying the class is incredibly difficult (and yes, I will agree that I think the A&P needs to be stronger, many things need to be updated, and it would be better if there were more hands on clinical sessions, where students could be evaluated in the field under a senior provider before being set lose in the field), but I don't think it's as easy as many of us recall it being.

Can anyone who has taken the class, especially if they have taken the complete initial class a second time after completing it years ago and having it expire, give any feedback on the comparison between the two?
 

NomadicMedic

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I've taken it twice... I originally took the class in 1988 and then again in 2008, before I could go to medic school, after letting my certs lapse. (Don't EVER let your certs lapse!)

I thought it was moderately difficult in 1988, but I was 18 and didn't really know any better. In 2008 I found it laughable. It was ridiculously dumbed down and was taught at such a simple level that I was bored. i never scored less than a 98% on every test and after two weeks in the class was asked by the instructors to work with helping some of the struggling students.

The NREMT was also ridiculously easy. Minimum number of questions, done and done. Although, it was the same thing in paramedic school. The most difficult part of the program was the time management. The course material wasn't difficult.

I think that EMT-B instructors perpetuate the "this is SOOOO HARD" myth. Its really basic anatomy, basic first aid and some moneky skills.

People fail this course because they either don't take it seriously or have poor study/retention skills. The current culture of awarding a trophy just for showing up hasn't done EMS education any favors.
 

VentMonkey

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I've taken it twice... I originally took the class in 1988 and then again in 2008, before I could go to medic school, after letting my certs lapse. (Don't EVER let your certs lapse!)

I thought it was moderately difficult in 1988, but I was 18 and didn't really know any better. In 2008 I found it laughable. It was ridiculously dumbed down and was taught at such a simple level that I was bored. i never scored less than a 98% on every test and after two weeks in the class was asked by the instructors to work with helping some of the struggling students.

The NREMT was also ridiculously easy. Minimum number of questions, done and done. Although, it was the same thing in paramedic school. The most difficult part of the program was the time management. The course material wasn't difficult.

I think that EMT-B instructors perpetuate the "this is SOOOO HARD" myth. Its really basic anatomy, basic first aid and some moneky skills.

People fail this course because they either don't take it seriously or have poor study/retention skills. The current culture of awarding a trophy just for showing up hasn't done society any favors.
Yup!:). Fixed that last part, though.
 

MackTheKnife

BSN, RN-BC, EMT-P, TCRN, CEN
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It's easy. Some people just over think everything and fail tests. I recert NREMT every 2 years-old it's easy.

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
 

CALEMT

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it was the same thing in paramedic school. The most difficult part of the program was the time management. The course material wasn't difficult.

I know the topic is mainly EMT school. But just finishing didactic for paramedic school I agree with this statement. Having the experience I had in didactic made the learning not all that hard. Don't get me wrong, I struggled in a few things. Those few things were relatively new to me or a new concept. Time management was a big part of medic school. It's a lot of information and a lot of work in a short amount of time. Now back to the topic of EMT school. When I did mine in 2012 I found it realtivley challenging. You're taking someone fresh out of high school and teaching concepts and techniques that are foregin. Because I found EMT school challenging I studied like I've never studied before and passed every test no problem. Even found the NREMT realtivley easy. I do believe EMT school and paramedic school are challenging. It's how you apply yourself that reflects how you do in class.
 

NysEms2117

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i took it, and got a 98% just like @NomadicMedic, really wasn't hard (i've only taken it once though). Currently my fiance is finishing up her EMT-B, and she has something around an 85. And if she has an 85 in EMS, it is easy. Love her to death, but her knowledge of anatomy prior to the class was "The foot bone connected to the ankle bone, Ankle bone connected to the leg bone, Leg bone connected to the knee bone, Knee bone connected to the thigh bone". ect ect. Will she make a good EMT probably, is the emt class to easy, probably.
 

Tigger

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I think part of the issue is where students are getting their education. If EMT school is your first educational experience since high school, having someone that gets some instructor development is pretty essential. Conceptually, it is different than high school and that makes quality instruction important. For what it's worth (n=1), the community college here does a better job teaching EMT programs than the other programs. I do lab instruction and outreach classes for the other educational entity, which is hospital based and very little educational pedigree is required. I'm happy I got some exposure to giving presentations and whatnot during my undergrad, I'd be in trouble otherwise. They do have some instructor development classes which have been great, but it's a far cry from the education that the full time CC instructors get.

Still, I don't see any part of the EMT curriculum as particular difficult. Managing your time is not part of the coursework, and that's what seems to get people.
 

hometownmedic5

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I was initially certified in 2004. I retook the national in 2013.

The coursework is laughably simple and assuming you're not in one of the two week all you can eat ems buffet classes, there exists plenty of time to absorb it all, in my opinion.

I think the biggest problem is generational. Young people these days are simply less committed to, well, everything. The tail end of this generation(of which I am a member sadly), is almost completely apathetic to their own success. At least, this has been my experience. Further compounding the problem is everybody is special. Everybody has some sort of "I can't do this because I have xxxxx" excuse they have been relying on for their entire lives. Now, in the adult world, they are finding that nobody cares about your excuses. There are no participation trophies in adulthood, at least not that I've found.

Anybody who puts in a modicum of effort, absent a learning disability, should be able to achieve success in this exceedingly basic course.
 

VFlutter

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I took my EMT-B course while taking healthcare pre-reqs and it found it to be almost insultingly easy. The textbook and content was written at very low level. However my opinion was skewed since I was concurrently taking college A&P, Micro, Pharm, etc and may not have felt the same way otherwise.
 

MackTheKnife

BSN, RN-BC, EMT-P, TCRN, CEN
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An afterthought: To those who have failed, once or several times, my reply is not meant to be arrogant or cruel. It's just that EMT is very basic (no pun intended) and doesn't incorporate the really hard stuff; such as A&P, pharmacology, etc. As someone else posted, it's just advanced first aid.
 
OP
DrParasite

DrParasite

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I think that EMT-B instructors perpetuate the "this is SOOOO HARD" myth. Its really basic anatomy, basic first aid and some moneky skills.

People fail this course because they either don't take it seriously or have poor study/retention skills. The current culture of awarding a trophy just for showing up hasn't done EMS education any favors.
I don't think any instructor ever said it was SOOOOO hard, but rather it isn't a simply show up and you will pass the class without putting forth any effort. It's not brain surgery or rocket science, but it's also not an easy A.

If you have taken Micro, Bio, Chem, A&P, and several college level courses, you will have a much better experience than someone who only has a HS diploma and no post high school education.

You need to put the effort into doing the work, into doing the readings (before class), and into studying for the exams. Add to the fact that many people take the EMT class while working full time (if they are adult learners), as a side project (they are firefighters, and are only taking the class because it's required for their job, not because they actually want to do it), and have to juggle family responsibilities, and I can completely see why people have issues.

As others have mentioned, time management is critical, and if you aren't willing or able to put the time in, you might not pass.

BTW, my classes consists of millennials, Generation Z, Generation X, and the occasional babyboomer. All have dropped out or been dropped due to poor performance. So while I don't think it is entirely generational (but I agree, the everyone gets a trophy concept hasn't helped).
 

IA Undercover

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I didn't think it was too difficult, but that being said, only 17 of the original 54 people in my class passed.

Some people pass the first time and others were taking it for the 2nd or 3rd (one guy had failed his 3 attempts at another school and was taking it his 5 time)
 

hometownmedic5

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I didn't think it was too difficult, but that being said, only 17 of the original 54 people in my class passed.

Some people pass the first time and others were taking it for the 2nd or 3rd (one guy had failed his 3 attempts at another school and was taking it his 5 time)

He might be an example of a legitimate learning disability. Either way, it doesn't seem like this is a compatible field of study for that person.....
 
OP
DrParasite

DrParasite

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I didn't think it was too difficult, but that being said, only 17 of the original 54 people in my class passed.
He might be an example of a legitimate learning disability. Either way, it doesn't seem like this is a compatible field of study for that person.....
So what would you say to the other 37 people in his class who started the class and didn't finish with their certification in hand?
 

EpiEMS

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I'd like to see some additional data, but I'd strongly suspect that baseline ability (strongly correlated with educational achievement elsewhere - see here) is a strong correlate of exam performance.
 

Seirende

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It's easy for those who fit that learning style.
 

NomadicMedic

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and I'd guess that most of us who fit that learning style have found this place and camped out here...
 

ExpatMedic0

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EMT-B I had no problems, but I did have to study a lot more than many of the others. I had to retake my EMT-Intermediate final exam and almost failed. I also had to retake my Paramedic final exam after failing it the first time. Later, I went back to school to complete a BS degree, and now my MS degree on campus. Out of all those classes over the past six years, I have only had to retake one exam in my life outside of EMT-I and Medic school. This includes courses at a much higher level both in natural science and social science. So wrap your head around that. In my opinion, EMS education/training is condensed and faster paced. I have a diagnosed learning disability and was also much younger when I took my EMS education vs. my adult higher education, so I attribute my struggle with that. However, I passed a 600 level cardiac physiology course at a worldwide top 50 ranked University but failed my EMT-I at a community college my first go around haha.
 

DrWorm

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I recently completed a combined EMT-B/AEMT class for the first time and I felt like it was really easy. The people running the class kept stressing that it was a high level, fast paced, advanced class that is easy to burn out of and easy to fail. But in the 5 months that it took, I felt more than prepared to take the NREMT. I finished the class with a test average of 93% and finished the NREMT-B exam in around 30 minutes near the minimum number of questions. The AEMT exam isn't adaptive yet, so I can't guess how well I did but all of the questions took around 55 minutes to answer. That being said, there were a few people in the class that had a more difficult time with the material and one dropped out about 80% through the course.
 

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