Part time EMTs and Paramedics

DrParasite

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What are your thoughts on part time EMTs or Paramedics? and by part time, I mean a career employee who works for your agency on the ambulance, but has a another full time job unrelated to EMS or public safety (in @bigbaldguy's case, he's a flight attendant, I used to work with a guy who was medic on the weekend but had a full time job working as a chemical engineer, there are probably others on here that I am not including).

In my current county, we won't hire any paramedics part time, but the next county over mandates that all new hires (part timers included) must attend and pass a 4-6 week academy, which is 40 hours a week during business hours.

Are part time EMTs ok, but part time paramedics are not? are part time parmedics ok, but EMTs are not? and before anyone asks, I'm not asking about individual providers, I'm asking about overall thoughts and opinions on the concept.
 

CCCSD

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As long as they keep up the skills, there shouldn’t be a problem. What better way to staff shortages? From a management point, you don’t need to pay them bennies, they are usually flexible, they take what’s there. They don’t complain. They bring a fresh viewpoint.

I’ve done both.
 

CityEMT212

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What are your thoughts on part time EMTs or Paramedics? and by part time, I mean a career employee who works for your agency on the ambulance, but has a another full time job unrelated to EMS or public safety (in @bigbaldguy's case, he's a flight attendant, I used to work with a guy who was medic on the weekend but had a full time job working as a chemical engineer, there are probably others on here that I am not including).

In my current county, we won't hire any paramedics part time, but the next county over mandates that all new hires (part timers included) must attend and pass a 4-6 week academy, which is 40 hours a week during business hours.

Are part time EMTs ok, but part time paramedics are not? are part time parmedics ok, but EMTs are not? and before anyone asks, I'm not asking about individual providers, I'm asking about overall thoughts and opinions on the concept.

I plan on starting off part time, in a volunteer agency. They suggest (require) 16 hours a month which can be divided into 4 hour or 8 hour shifts. I've also thought of per diem at other agencies but those are harder to come by. Privates around here require full time hours, with flexibility for being mandated. So does our FD. I also was advised because this city has major events going on often, (concerts, festivals, sports venues, street fairs etc...) EMS standby personnel are in demand. I'm unable to work full time at the moment because I work for a clinic, and would want to work part time to get a grasp on my skill set. But I do envision full time EMS work within a year.
 

Trvlr

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I am currently Part-time, doing Fire/EMS so this is my take on it. I work to keep my certification, practical use of my skills, and extra money.



Cost: Our department has several ambulances we staff only with Part-time, they have run the numbers to covert it to full-time; with Salaries, benefits, etc., it would cost about $600,000 more, annually.

The starting wage for part-time is also less than full-time, and we are not allowed to get OT. Part-time also are required to staff the community events, football games, and other mass gatherings which use to be overtime shifts for full-time crew, so less money the department will have to pay overall to provide medical coverage.

Quality of service: This is where I think being part-time is a detriment to the care provided. I work on average of 1-2 days a week. Others work only their minimum of 48 hours a month to stay on the roster… I’m constantly having to review skills, dosages, and protocols. I am rarely on shift when the department has departmental training, or CME hours. I always have to learn about changes after the fact.

Turn-over: Our department is always hiring it seems. Many use this position as a resume booster to go onto other departments or move into full-time position within our department.The same frustrations listed above, and below also cause many to leave.

Morale: I rove, so I’m at a different station, with a different crew, and different partner pretty much whenever I go on shift. So it takes a lot to learn about your partners knowledge, skill level, to get to know them as a person, and how they operate. Many do not put in the effort or time as they won’t work with that person again for several months. Same goes for the full-time crew, it gets frustrating on both sides. I’ve had medics who want us to jump in, some who want the NS bags burped, some who don’t want us touching anything.

Our department only recognizes our part-time staff as EMT, regardless of certification; we're only allowed to operate at the BLS level. Several of our part-time are flight medics, or have vastly more knowledge then the full-time medics. I've seen this cause tension on scene when going over treatment plans.

So pros and cons with both.
 

mgr22

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I've done both and agree with pretty much all of the points made above. Part-time and/or per-diem medics can be a staffing solution for many agencies. It's up to the medics to stay current.
 

Remi

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It goes without saying that any employee in any field, part-time or full-time, needs to remain competent and current in that field.

So assuming that is done, what reason would any agency have for disallowing part-time employees?
 

AtlasFlyer

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As long as skills are kept current, what's the problem? I'm PRN at my service. There are a LOT of us part-timers. We attend all education events on the same schedule as the full-timers. I do take the time to read my protocol book on a regular basis to review, and every time I work I take more time than a full-timer on their regular truck to go over the truck/bag(s)/equipment/etc. We pick up the last-minute sick call shifts, we help out with staffing special events and emergency coverage. Usually we're the "happy" ones at work, we're not there enough to be burned out and grumpy. Currently an EMT or medic is required to do a year full-time, before applying to go PRN, so we have had some experience before going PRN. I love it, I love the flexibility and don't mind the irregularity of being on different trucks/stations all the time.
 

NysEms2117

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I was a part time employee in EMS. With parole as my main gig(fitness wasn't an issue), and my skills were kept to a minimum of state level(I like to think I was a bit better in all honesty). I worked on a 3 person critical care rig, usually being an assistant to a CC-P provider in the back while an EMR drove. I WILL say, while I was part time I attended 0 Continuing education classes, however that was my own volition, not due to my companies fault. Another important note is my company was a sheriffs office, so it was hardly private.
 

Summit

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The premise of this topic is pretty silly.

There are many services where being full time is significantly less intense and experiental than being part time at moderately busy service. Actually, a lot of busy Fire/EMS falls into the former!!!

Further, plenty of part time medics who put in many years full time and have that depth of experience built up.

You need only look in the rest of healthcare to find part time providers aplenty.
 
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DrParasite

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Further, plenty of part time medics who put in many years full time and have that depth of experience built up.
that's a fair statement and one that I currently fall into. What about a part time provider who has never worked on an ambulance full time? Would that change your opinion?
You need only look in the rest of healthcare to find part time providers aplenty.
I haven't seen many part time providers who didn't do the same or similar job full time elsewhere, or part timers who were former full timers who went down to part time for one reason or another
 

Remi

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that's a fair statement and one that I currently fall into. What about a part time provider who has never worked on an ambulance full time? Would that change your opinion?
Well, as I wrote in an earlier post, competence is a given, right? We wouldn't consider hiring anyone into any position - FT or PT - whose competence hasn't been well established. Generally, one of the main ways we do that is through showing some experience. I think we all understand that simply graduating a paramedic program doesn't ensure any real competence. So in most cases, part-time employment for a new-grad probably wouldn't be appropriate.

There are always exceptions, though. A motivated newbie working three 8-hours shifts a week in a busy service with a good partner who is known to be a good teacher/preceptor will probably accumulate experience and competence pretty quickly.

I think the real question here is this: Can part-time paramedic remain competent? And I think the answer to that is a resounding "of course".
 

DrParasite

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And that's kind of the question: if you are only part time, how do you demonstrate competence? how do you maintain competence? If your service isn't busy, or your a massive white cloud as a newbie, does that mean you are less competent than a full timer person?

Is it easier to be an EMT like @NysEms2117, where your role is as paramedic helper on a 911/CCT truck, compared to being on a 911 truck staffed with 2 EMTs in a tiered system (think Boston, NYC, all of NJ, all of Delaware, etc) , where you don't have a paramedic to tell you what to do?

as someone who has been certified as an EMT for 18 years, including several years of working full time on 911 trucks and IFT trucks in busy systems, I can confidently say that, having not stepped foot on an ambulance or been employed by an ambulance agency in almost 3 years, if you can give me almost any patient and I will manage them appropriate (to the best of my ability) and give EMS a good report when they arrive, helping them out with whatever they need. And I had several Captains and Lts. ask me why I don't apply to work for EMS, because they were that impressed with my patient care abilities.

But I also remember from my time on the ambulance, that we had a few part time or per diem employees that I wouldn't trust to treat my worst enemy, let alone my family. Their competence was questionable IMO, and how they still had their jobs was a mystery to me. And there were other part timers who were amazing providers and fun to work with.

My old job has a saying: "arrive alive, don't let the part timer drive." I never really agreed with this mentality, but I know others who did. And we had a ton of part time/per diem employees both at the EMT and medic level.
 

NysEms2117

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Is it easier to be an EMT like @NysEms2117, where your role is as paramedic helper on a 911/CCT truck, compared to being on a 911 truck staffed with 2 EMTs in a tiered system (think Boston, NYC, all of NJ, all of Delaware, etc) , where you don't have a paramedic to tell you what to do
i did a little.. I took 3 or 4 shifts as a dual EMT-B rig. Honestly I thought the CC-P stuff was harder, because i was never trained with that. Like that first day I had to learn on the fly what the meds were and stuff like that because basics don't know that, or aren't taught that. VERY easy to catch on though. I'm sure actually physically doing the actions is much harder though. EMT-B stuff especially where I worked, was simple... There was 0 judgement, the closest hospital wherever I went was always the same thing it was ALWAYS the Trauma center, and state designated hospital. Which made things easy lol.
 

Remi

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And that's kind of the question: if you are only part time, how do you demonstrate competence? how do you maintain competence?
How does a part-timer demonstrate competence? I don't know, how does a full-timer demonstrate competence? By running calls and documenting to the standard of care?

EMS is not rocket science. Once a baseline level of competence is achieved, I think for most it's pretty easy to maintain with a little motivation. As long as you are working regularly (not necessarily frequently, but regularly) and reviewing protocols and doing CEU's, it's not hard to keep your foot in the door without losing your skills and knowledge.
 

CCCSD

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I haven’t been in a standard rig in over 25 years. Give me 5 minutes and I can run it, just as well as anyone else. It’s just repetitive monkey skills.
 

Scott33

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I know many medics and EMTs who work part time or per diem. Of note, is a captain for Southwest Airlines, and someone who owns his own insurance company. I am currently a per diem RN working full time as a paramedic. As has been mentioned, as long as all competencies are maintained (and no one is falling asleep at the wheel) I don’t see the issue.
 

Tigger

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And that's kind of the question: if you are only part time, how do you demonstrate competence? how do you maintain competence? If your service isn't busy, or your a massive white cloud as a newbie, does that mean you are less competent than a full timer person?
All of our employees are required to test with the training captain and medical director annually. It's usually a couple of scenarios where both clinical thinking and performance of high acuity low frequency skill performances are tested (crics, using our vent, video scope, etc). They are required to attend the same trainings on new guidelines as the rest of the staff and a few (but less than the full time staff) case reviews per year. Paramedics must maintain full time employment as a paramedic somewhere else as well. With the EMTs it's much less of a big deal as we do not ever operate BLS cars and are frequently sending ambulances out to calls with a single paramedic as the only crew, so any partner is an improvement over that. We attempt to deploy part time paramedics with a partner to avoid this just because of the geographical challenge but it still certainly happens.

Lots of our part time staff are less competent than our full time staff. They might be clinically just fine, but many are uncomfortable with having a dispatch that doesn't assign ambulances or working in a super rural environment. We are ok with that, because we are still sending a decent paramedic instead of no paramedic...

I am a part time paramedic at three services. I know for a fact that I am a slight burden on some of the full time staff. I just don't have the volume of experience to learn all of the operational nuances of every service and the level I am at is more than enough to get the job done. And once the patient is in back, well then it's all the same to me.
 

DrParasite

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I haven’t been in a standard rig in over 25 years. Give me 5 minutes and I can run it, just as well as anyone else. It’s just repetitive monkey skills.
Interesting... may I ask what your day job is?

I know a few firefighters (and i'm sure there are cops too and people who don't work in public safety or healthcare) who are either emts or paramedics who would be shining examples of how that isn't always the case
Paramedics must maintain full time employment as a paramedic somewhere else as well.
So If I were to offer you a new job as my company's PIO, because I really like your PR work and your grant writing (or anything else you do not clinically related), you would not be allowed to change your status from FT to part time, and would be terminated from your 3 PT jobs?

btw, I have had a part time EMS job since started working full time in EMS, and it seemed to be pretty common among all my coworkers to work elsewhere on their days off. So I completely understand that it's done, and why it's done. But having a "day job" and working as an EMS provider on the side seems more uncommon, except for those agencies where everyone starts part time before they get hired full time and that person is just trying out EMS as their first career gig.

As a related aside, I am having a very difficult time getting hired as a part time firefighter for a municipal department. Currently I work for one of the county/independent Fire departments, but most of the municipalities will only hire a part timers who is currently working full time for a department, or has availability based on a full time FF's schedule.
 

Tigger

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Interesting... may I ask what your day job is?
So If I were to offer you a new job as my company's PIO, because I really like your PR work and your grant writing (or anything else you do not clinically related), you would not be allowed to change your status from FT to part time, and would be terminated from your 3 PT jobs?
None of my part time jobs have that policy. But my full time employer requires all of our part time paramedics to work full time as a paramedic somewhere else. Exceptions have been made for people that did work full time and then went PRN at that job, but we will not consider a part time application for someone not working as a full time paramedic period. I'm not sure how I feel about this, that's just how we do it.
 
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