EM Docs: Former EMTs/Techs/Medics?

Discussion in 'Emergency Medicine' started by Alejandro, Mar 25, 2012.

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  1. Alejandro

    Alejandro 7+ Year Member

    May 25, 2008
    Hi all!

    I recently got accepted to med school (Pitt-whoo hoo), and I guess I've been doing some thinking about what I want to specialize in (can't help it when people barrage me with "so what do you want to do?")

    Anyway, I'm currently an ER tech/MA at a level one center, and it's been a lot of fun working there. One thing I've noticed though: Are a lot of the EM docs those who were former EMTs/Medics/Techs? I get the feeling that a lot of the docs I've met so far in EM were all those who "worked clincally" before starting school school.

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  3. dotcb

    dotcb --------- 10+ Year Member

    Oct 15, 2001
    Some were, most weren't. I think about 5% of residents at my program were EMT's.
  4. Dr.McNinja

    Dr.McNinja Nobel War Prize Winner SDN Moderator 10+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    Well, most EMTs don't become doctors, and most that do probably don't do EM. I've only personally known one EMT, and he did IM and he's doing international research in ID right now.

    Now, as far as techs, I've known 3 (myself included) that went to medical school. 2 are EM, and 1 is a surgeon. But again, the vast majority of techs don't go on from there.
  5. MrsOfficer


    Oct 1, 2011
    Of the 4 EMTs in our graduating class this year, all 4 of us matched into EM. 3/4 were EMIG leaders. The other 14 that went into EM were not EMTs.

    Not sure there's any hidden pattern or anything. I'd think that with any prior clinical work or research, if you enjoyed what you did in that role, it will influence your specialty decision in one way or another.

    You'll have a LOT of time to decide on your specialty. Best to not approach it narrow-mindedly this early on... go to interest group meetings & any clinical experiences offered during years 1 & 2, and even if you have a specialty hunch, be open to each rotation as an M3 & 4.
  6. SoCuteMD

    SoCuteMD 10+ Year Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    No more rounding!
    Of the EM folks I know (probably 100+ by now) there were a number who were EMTs. I want to say maybe 10 or so, and that's only those that I can think of off the top of my head. At least 3 were medics. A few were techs, but more were EMTs than techs.
  7. Aesculapius

    Aesculapius Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 30, 2004
    I'm starting residency soon. I was an EMT, and there was at least 1 other person in my year that was also an EMT. One was an ER RN, too.
  8. fiznat

    fiznat Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 18, 2004
    I was a paramedic for a while before I came to medical school (current MS1), and though I am "keeping my options open," I am very much interested in EM. EMS seems to be well represented in our school's EMIG-- two medics including myself, a couple EMTs, an ED nurse as well. I think there may be one dude who worked as a tech in an ED. My mentor back home (an EP) was both a medic and a nurse before he went to med school.

    On the other hand, I know a few ex-medics at my school who say they're interested in "anything but" EM. They say they've seen enough and wanted a different pace. I guess it depends, and priorities seem to change quite a bit come clinical years.
  9. tkim

    tkim 10 cc's cordrazine 10+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2002
    New England
    EMTP for 12 years before med school. Flip flopped between gas and EM for a long time. The OR environment killed me.
  10. RafaTech

    RafaTech 7+ Year Member

    Jul 25, 2008
    la la land
    Also an EMT for 6 years before starting med school. Like the others have said, I kept my options open when looking at other specialties during third year. In the end, I didnt really like anything as good as EM. Going to be applying to EM this September.
  11. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor 10+ Year Member

    Jun 6, 2002
    Still have my NREMT-P certification.
  12. CommunityED

    CommunityED 10+ Year Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    I was an EMT. One of my coworkers was (and still occasionally rides as) a medic.
  13. ihearttriangles

    ihearttriangles 5+ Year Member

    Jul 29, 2010
    On a somewhat related note, is anybody else as bothered as I am that the entire medical profession, besides EPs, has no idea whatsoever that the distinction between paramedic and EMT even exists?

    "Oh, so you were an EMT?" "Well, actually I was a paramedic." "Isn't that what I said?"

    Also, I feel like a lot of the I-took-an-EMT-class-over-the-summer-and-now-I-say-I-was-an-EMT kids at my school do their best to perpetuate this obfuscation. All these kids going around saying they were medics but when I first met them all I would say, "oh cool. me too." And I would see a slightly scared look go across their faces. And right away I would know they were full of sh$t. Mainly for two reasons: 1) They were way too chipper. There is no way you could spend any significant amount of time on the box and walk away with innocent eyes. No way. 2) They didn't express any sense of brotherhood. And I'm not talking about giving me a hug and a kiss on the cheek but, there is a nod, an acknowledgement of shared experiences. What's it like to code a pre-teen after she's hung herself, mom's shrieking in your ear, dad's punching holes in the wall, and you're thinking "God, let this kid be an easy tube." You know too? Well, thank God I'm not the only one that carries that around with me.
  14. ABBY109

    ABBY109 PGY-28 7+ Year Member

    Nov 24, 2006
    All paramedics are EMTs -ie emergency medical technicians. They are the highest level of EMT . It is perfectly correct to refer to them as EMTs. ( although Ive seen many paragod egos that cant tolerate it)

    Reminds me of a sergeant in my old army unit - he was a sergeant 1st class. Got pissed as hell of you called him sarge or just sergeant. He would chew your ass out.. " Its sergeant first class to you son" What a putz.

    EP and fromer EMT
  15. medicsb

    medicsb 7+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    Though the title is changing with national scope of practice being implemented - no more EMT-P, just Paramedic (NRP through the national registry). For what it's worth, I do sometimes correct people - I worked very hard for the "P" and it IS head and shoulders beyond EMT in training and practice.

    Hopefully with time the US will follow the lead of other countries and eliminate the EMT akin to Canada with Primary Care Paramedics and Advanced Care Paramedics, or Austalia with Paramedics and Intensive Care Paramedics.
  16. ihearttriangles

    ihearttriangles 5+ Year Member

    Jul 29, 2010
    Sorry if my post in any way seemed to be putting down EMTs. That was surely not my intention. I was an EMT before becoming a medic (obviously), I ate/slept/laughed/cried with partners (all EMTs) for years, and a ton of my friends are still EMTs.

    I was just complaining (yeah, I should probably just sack up, I know) about a certain sub-set minority of "EMTs" who never worked a day in their life as an EMT yet going around my medical school claiming they were medics. Like I said, I know I should just sack up, it's not like anyone really cares what you did before coming to medical school but damn if that chapter of my life doesn't seem like a dream. Like the time the standardized patient gave me a lecture on how to take a blood pressure, or when the 3rd year med student critiqued my hand positioning on the laryngoscope. Normally, I just smile and nod but today I had to vent and this seemed like a good place.
  17. emtthink

    emtthink 5+ Year Member

    Jan 22, 2011
    I'm on the opposite end. If people ask I tell them I'm an EMT, they then jump to medic, and I correct them. I have respect for the medics, they know more than I do at this point, and I trust them (well some of the people I work with anyway)
  18. DeadCactus

    DeadCactus SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor 10+ Year Member

    Oct 28, 2006
    The flip side of this is that despite being a medic for years you still have sh--ty technique. There's a good chance that's not the case in the situation you describe but the "I was a nurse/medic/magician for 13.29 years so I'm basically an MD" types are just as annoying as the "Code Blue?! Don't worry, I just memorized the Kreb's cycle!" kids. Again, the reality is likely that you're just venting and I'm not trying to accuse you but your comment just made a good segway.

    At the end of the day, we should be judging information based on its quality rather than its source...
  19. Veritas86


    Mar 13, 2012
    Paris. TX
    Sort of getting back on topic...

    Anyone interested in the EMS fellowship?
  20. apples2


    Jan 18, 2012
    I was an EMT and a ED tech. Congrats on your acceptance to Pitt. I'm graduating from there in a couples months and starting my EM residency. Pm me if you have any questions about the school or city... It's not a bad place to spend the next four years.
  21. ParamedicMan

    ParamedicMan 7+ Year Member

    Sep 19, 2007
    We have two Paramedics in my class, both of us with >10 yrs experience. We also have a few "EMTs" that got their basic just to fill the volunteer checkbox on the med school application. I'm going into surgery, then trauma fellowship, and the other medic is going into EM/IM. Of the EMTs, one is going into EM, one into peds, and two in FM.
    As for our ED/Surgery staff, we have two residents that were prior EMS, two attendings with EMS background, and two trauma surgeons that were FF/Paramedics.
  22. AlmostJesus

    AlmostJesus 5+ Year Member

    Mar 11, 2011
    For the paramedics specifically, when did you do your medic training? During your pre-med years or did you become a medic first and then make the decision to become a physician?
    The reason I ask, I became a paramedic during my freshman and sophomore years of college (along with school full time). I currently work part time as a paramedic in a small town, which includes working the ED in a nursing like capacity while I am not on calls. I would be interested to know how your experience working as a medic helped you when it came time to apply to medical school.
  23. medicsb

    medicsb 7+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    I became an EMT at 21 and worked as an EMT/driver for a academic hospital based critical care transport service, and in addition, I volunteered for a 911 ALS ambulance service. I then began medic training a few months before I turned 22, but continued volunteering (6 hrs per week) and got a PRN job on a BLS ambulance (911 response only). It was during medic training that I developed the desire to pursue medicine. I got my EMT-P at 23, worked full-time for a year, and then signed up for college classes. For my first year of school I worked 24-26 hours a week while taking classes part-time and then backed down to 12-16 per week with fulltime hours during breaks once I had full-time classes. I finished undergrad at 28 and started medical school the following fall.

    I don't have time to get into it, but I think the experience helped with getting in to medical school, it was mentioned and talked about at all my interviews (I spoke of it in the personal statement). I think my experience set me apart from the average applicant.
  24. ihearttriangles

    ihearttriangles 5+ Year Member

    Jul 29, 2010
    It's really hard to say whether or not it helps when applying. Best case scenario is the one medicsb mentioned. It MIGHT differentiate you from other applicants.

    More likely however, it will be viewed in a neutral or maybe even a negative light.
    Consider that most likely the majority of your interviewers will be non-clinicians. These guys really have no idea what a paramedic is and how it is different from the relatively large percentage of applicants who put their EMT certification on their application.

    Additionally, as you can probably tell by some of the comments on this thread, there is a contingent of people who view paramedics as being arrogant cowboy jackasses. Which, I have to admit, is not an entirely unjustified reputation. There is always that one medic, every system has one (or three or four), that is just plain psycho. However, these people will not care that you aren't like that and they will make sure you go down in flames. Just something to consider.
  25. wook

    wook Just a hairy situation 10+ Year Member

    If you're interested in EMS, an EMS fellowship can give you good prehospital training/experience.


  26. MT Headed

    MT Headed snow, PBR, and bears Lifetime Donor 2+ Year Member

    May 27, 2011
    teh Big Sky!
    Using the new terminology, I am a current EMT with 5 years experience and I am a paramedic school dropout (I left an associate degree paramedic program to pursue pre-med). My EMT service made up the bulk of my application.

    Of my 7 interviews, 5 schools ignored my EMT service completely. Got some rejections, waitlists, acceptances, whatever.

    One school royally reamed me out for dropping out of paramedic school, accusing me of being an unreliable flake with commitment problems. Result: rejection. I don't even know why I spent $500 on a plane ticket just to get yelled at for an hour.

    One school (Tulane) was absolutely in love with my EMT service, talked about it constantly, and strongly encouraged me to pursue EM as a specialty. When a wailing ambulance drove by outside the interview room and I jumped up and said "excuse me, I have to take care of this" they laughed and laughed. Result: the acceptance was in my mailbox before my return flight landed.

    I honestly didn't give EM much thought (I was gunning for FM), but having some down time after the application process and reading this forum, I think EM is a lifestyle that would suit me just fine
  27. medicsb

    medicsb 7+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    I think it depends on you play up the experience. I did no research at all and the only volunteering I did was for the 2 years that I was an EMT, which I did on my own without even a thought of what was required to get into medical school. (There was also a bunch of volunteering and organizing that I did before I became an EMT, which I'm sure also helped, too.) I expected adcoms and interviewers to not know the difference between an EMT and a paramedic, so I did briefly outline in the PS and also in secondaries, when appropriate, what I did at work and why it made me a good applicant. I didn't go in to interviews and just talk about being a paramedic, but I think the experience made me unique (among others) and I would point that out when appropriate. The app process requires you to sell yourself to schools and you have to play an angle that you think will help you stand out, which I did, and my paramedic experience was part of, but not exclusively, that angle. Also, since most people don't know anything about EMS, they also don't know about wackers, so that was never a concern for me.

    Also, for what it is worth. I've never heard of EMS experience being viewed as a negative. I'd be curious as to what makes you think this.

    Years ago I came I came across a publication on the view of EMS experience by Deans of Admissions for some medical schools and none viewed EMS experience as negative. Although it was a small sample, it did show that EMS is generally viewed positively. (Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, Vol.17, No.1; http://pdm.medicine.wisc.edu)

    As to an earlier mention of EMS fellowships. I am interested in doing one if I were to do EM.
  28. Dane07MD

    Dane07MD 10+ Year Member

    Sep 6, 2006
    I think it may be safe to say that those EMTs/Techs/Etc that DO go on to med school have a slightly higher likelihood of entering EM. That being said, of the 4 EMTs/Medics I know from my class: 2 EM, 1 IM, 1 ortho. (The 2 medics went EM).
  29. ihearttriangles

    ihearttriangles 5+ Year Member

    Jul 29, 2010
    You know, I don't have any data to back up this suspicion it is just kind of a gut feeling. I think it has a lot to do with medical culture. I have noticed that there are two big medical cultural mores which you can get tangled up with whenever discussing your past work experience in the medical field. 1) A general dislike for any healthcare profession besides medicine. Kind of like a macro turf war. Some physicians, definitely not all, have a general antagonism towards nursing, mid-levels, chiropractors, DOs, paramedics, etc... Medicine is a tribe and with this can go a distinct dislike for other professions viewed as "other." 2) A strong dislike for any behavior viewed as arrogant. Which is great cause I really think medicine is a place for humility but, sometimes people take this to an extreme in which mentioning any past experience/skills you may have is seen as being arrogant.

    On a personal level, just to give an example as to how my interviewers were completely indifferent to my medic experience: on my app I mentioned I played guitar in a rockabilly band for ONE summer in college. Then, during both an interview at school A and during orientation at school B, they had a power point of "unique experiences" of the applicants/matriculants. On both they listed my one summer in a sh$tty band and not my medic experience.
  30. AlmostJesus

    AlmostJesus 5+ Year Member

    Mar 11, 2011
    Thanks for the honest replies. I definitely understand the perspective of infringement or misunderstanding. I got the chance to talk to the dean of student affairs from the medical school that I am most interested in attending (USD). I spoke with him about how my paramedic experience will influence my application. He seemed quite upbeat about the chances so long as my academics were above their 3.1 and 26 MCAT minimums. One thing he mentioned as a positive is my position working in a small town where it involves taking call and working long hours. With this, he thought that would convey a knowledge of the strains of a physician along with a knowledge of what medicine in a rural area is like. The medical school has a huge rural medicine emphasis so I am hoping this will turn out to benefit me.
    From the way it sounds from you guys, the major thing is going to be the interviews (I am guaranteed an interview as I am a resident). I can only hope for a practitioner with positive knowledge of the prehospital realm.
  31. 24IdaFire

    24IdaFire Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    I agree with this.

    During medical school the ED I did most of my rotations at wasn't to keen on letting students do any procedures, however they typically wanted you in the room to watch. After watching several intubations form the foot of the bed I decided my time would better spent seeing patients. I saw no benefit of watching a procedure I've preformed 100 times myself from the most useless position in the room.

    I ended up getting hosed during the match because of it.

    I was a firefighter/EMTP for 10 years. Did my EMTP training at that hospital, transported tons of patients to that hospital, rotated at that hospital, ranked that hospital number 1, did not match to that hospital.

    One of my friends who was a resident there talked to me about it after the match. Apparently several of the residents hosed my during the resident review. Because I wasn't a fan of standing at the foot of a bed during an intubation I was "Not receptive to teaching."

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