About the Profession
Every place that people live, work and play is the site of a potential emergency – homes, apartment buildings, roads, office towers, playgrounds, factories, churches, schools, movie theaters and ships just start the list.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates jobs for trained EMTs — Paramedics will increase 9 percent through 2018, about average for all professions. Several factors will contribute to the growth. As the Baby Boomer generation hits retirement and beyond, large numbers of older adults will likely have more medical emergencies.
Many emergency rooms in U.S. hospitals are overcrowded, which increase the time it takes to transfer patients from an ambulance into the care of hospital staff and increases the time EMTs and paramedics spend with those in their care. Overcrowded hospitals at times divert new incoming emergencies to other facilities, which increases transit time. Specialization among hospitals – facilities dedicated to cardiac care, for example – also will increase the need for patient transfers.
Among paid EMTs and paramedics, about 29 percent work in local government, 20 percent work directly for hospitals and 45 percent work for ambulance services. Volunteer EMTs and paramedics are more common in small cities, towns, and rural areas, where they work in tandem with fire departments or hospital services and may handle only a few calls each month.
Local governments, including fire and police departments, and independent third-party rescue services typically offer better salaries and benefits.
Although people have responded to emergencies for thousands of years, EMT — Paramedic was first recognized by the American Medical Association as an Allied Health occupation in 1975.
Much has changed since those early days.
With advances in trauma medicine, heart treatment and other specialties, sick and injured emergency patients have better chances for survival. EMTs and Paramedics must stay up-to-date with the latest developments, and continuing education, as in most Allied Health fields, is mandatory to stay licensed.
This is a dynamic profession that requires manual dexterity, calm under pressure and good decision-making skills. Trained paramedics with experience advance to positions as supervisors, operations managers, administrative directors or even executive directors of emergency services. Teaching is another option. Some EMTs and paramedics move into medical equipment sales or marketing; others find they want to stay in direct patient care and pursue more advanced degrees, becoming nurses or physicians.
EMT — Paramedic programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) in collaboration with the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the EMS Professions (CoAEMSP).
Most health care fields are licensed and regulated, and each state regulates its own licensing. The Tennessee EMS Board issues four different levels of licenses: First Responder, Emergency Medical Technician IV, Paramedic and Paramedic Critical Care. Candidates for all licenses must pass a state-approved program, a written exam and a practical exam.
The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians administers exams for five levels of national certification. Certification is a different process by which specialized knowledge is demonstrated and tested. Licensure is a state’s grant of legal authority to practice in a specific profession, though often the process involves passing the national certification exams.
National, state and local associations help EMTs and Paramedics stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technology, provide networking opportunities and other resources.
- American Ambulance Association
- Tennessee Ambulance Service Organization
- Emergency Nurses Association
- Tennessee Emergency Nurses Association
- International Rescue and Emergency Care Association
- National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
- National Association of State EMS Officials
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