EMS isn't the best premed environment

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    When I first signed up for my EMT-B class I thought it would be the best thing I ever did for my medical school application. Additionally, after so much medical reading out of pure interest, I was so excited to finally get a taste of real patient care. When I envisioned my future as an EMT, I was careful not to have unrealistic expectations: I knew that most patients wouldn't be dying and I was well aware that EMT-B's have a relatively limited scope of practice. One thing I failed to realistically expect was the people who I would work with.

    Some people might think this doesn't matter, and maybe it won't/doesn't to you; but let me try to paint a picture of what I've seen in a little over a year.


    The Class Composition Will Probably Surprise You

    My friend (who is now pre-PT, or however that works) made it to the first day of class about 5 minutes before I did and texted me "These people are trashy!"

    They weren't what we expected to say the least, but we gave them a chance, and a handful turned out to be great personalities, some seemingly unlikely.

    I'm not at all saying that premeds are the best people that could ever happen to EMS, there was a lot of diversity in that "good" handful of classmates: A lady whose day job was a bank teller, had no prior clinical knowledge, didn't want to switch careers, just wanted to volunteer helping her community; A pre-PA who was also an ER scribe, but was mature, and caring, didn't come across as a "gunner"; One and only one of the redneck fireman who was required to take the class but actually tried and cared; A 68-year-old widow who was bored in her retirement, also put forth a lot of effort. Some of these may never be great clinical problem solvers, but they will be due help, and fulfill their roles good enough.

    Everyone else, not so good. Not intellectually curious in the slightest way, not morally or ethically upstanding, not presentable (and I'm giving a lot of lee-way), and very very out of shape - morbidly obese, most smoked, many did recreational drugs (the hard stuff.) They didn't get along, had no tact, the trashy moms would get into fights in the middle of class (raising voice and name calling, although fist fights have happened at my station.) Also, wanted to be heroes, in the tackiest way one could ever show they want recognition, ever.

    Thankfully, the worst of them either didn't pass the class, could never pass the practical’s or the national written exam, or find the initiative to join anywhere once they did. Still, a lot slipped through the cracks, and a lot more who may not qualify as "riff-raff" but are still not good company.

    The Trauma Junkies who think "Sick Calls" are BS (and would probably be over their head in an actual multi-system trauma that was circling the drain)

    When I started my Basic course I knew from the very beginning that there would be a lot of toothaches, upset stomachs, and other non-emergent calls.

    We went out on a call recently for an abdominal pain, of course she wasn't dying, but she was in real pain. I noticed my partner in the back was a little less personable with her than me, but didn't really rub me the wrong way until after we got to the hospital while writing report he complained about how it was "BS" and had a horrible attitude the whole time.

    Then when we went back to the bay for her to sign she sat up and looked at me with this grimacing face and I knew exactly what was about to happen. I put on a glove really quick and got a container for her to throw up in - she was MISERABLE. I thought maybe after he saw that he would see it wasn’t such "BS."

    On the way back, he STILL complained about it. He has no excuse to be burnt out or calloused - he's a month out of his Basic course.

    This attitude is actually very common. Usually, among the newest members.


    Hostile/Know-It-All/"Para-god"

    Most doctors I've met are humbler.

    This is one place where you should be open to help, suggestions, and continuing education. For many, none of these things are welcome and taken as insults.

    I feel I have to walk on eggshells because of how fragile the big egos are. You can step on somebody's toes and not even know it, and if you do, they will hold it against you for a year and probably also try to turn everybody against you (this hasn't happened to me yet, but I've seen it happen.)

    One EMT-B who is often at the station when I am is constantly trying to prove his superior knowledge (it's not.) He got there about 4 weeks before me and it was obvious he took great pleasure in showing me where things were, and asking me questions like "When would you use this?" "You have a patient with _________ what’s the next thing you do?" and I would usually give him an answer better than he was expecting.

    Sometimes I'll correct him, and I'll basically caudle him by putting it in the gentlest non-threatening way possible and he'll defend his erroneous statement when I'm literally looking at what our protocols say.


    The New Guy that Hates Being New

    One guy lied about being a "paramedic" in a neighboring state which has reciprocity. Every time we had to call in a paramedic for a patient he would be SURE to tell them he used to be a paramedic. It really bothered him that he was an “just” an EMT.

    Well, his story doesn't add up:

    1.) The neighboring state has reciprocity - meaning it would have most likely transferred

    2.) He said he was a paramedic there when he was 16, when I asked "A paramedic at 16?" He lied and said yes. (You can't be an ALS provider there under 18, I checked.)

    3.) He didn't know how to read an EKG, although you better bet he pretended (For those of you who don't know, EKG's are paramedic territory)

    Do I have STUPID written on my forehead???

    You're new, realize that and take this time to learn.


    Gossip

    It’s like survivor.

    There are people there who I, in survivor terms, thought formed a strong alliance, and suddenly when one isn’t there they’re talking about voting them off (literally.)

    And it’s little things. Some time after high school I realized not to worry too hard about how I was coming across. What was it that parents always said? “People don’t care.” (as in nobody is looking at you that closely.) Well, here, some of them are critically reading into your every gesture, tone, and word; then, judging you by it and spreading it around.

    It makes you wonder.


    Conclusion

    As a premed EMT, you may feel like the odd man out at times. There are probably 5 or 6 different "cliques" at my station, and at least 3 of them are different flavors of "rednecks." When I first got there, I was lucky enough to get in good with a couple nice groups: One of the redneck ones and one of "Day-Time Professionals." I call them rednecks affectionately, they're really good guys but obviously their background is a little different than mine, although maybe not as much as they at first thought. They picked up on my "preppy" style, the fact I was always doing homework, and talked a little differently. I guess they assumed I was such a softie that they filtered what they said the first few days and kept giving these disclaimers (trigger-warnings lol) before they said anything as if I had never heard locker-room talk before; I also like fishing, and even have (my parents have) a lot of land out in the country for hunting which really surprised them. There's also a PA, a psychologist, and couple nurses who I like running with.

    Overall, it's a good experience (probably not one I would do again, for other reasons), but it was a little bit of a "culture shock." Other premed activities tend to have a common denominator that makes them sort of run together, this one just doesn't seem like the rest, which can be refreshing if you play your cards right.
     
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    Spectar

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      True true true.

      What makes it worthwhile are the people you end up helping. Regardless of all the bs involved with the corps (like every other healthcare environment, and trust me I've seen some terrible things go on) if you are there for the right reasons it ends up being extremely rewarding.
       
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      21Rush12

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        Welcome to the real world. Some people are trashy, and sometimes the best job they can get involves a certification that requires nothing more than a high school diploma and a few nights a week class.

        This is the top of the ladder for some, others are whackers, and career EMS as a field is its own animal and attracts a certain type.

        I'm not even sure what the point of this is, unless it is to say that you may well be the best educated in your class if you're in undergrad and planning on getting a degree.


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        Welcome to the real world. Some people are trashy, and sometimes the best job they can get involves a certification that requires nothing more than a high school diploma and a few nights a week class.

        This is the top of the ladder for some, others are whackers, and career EMS as a field is its own animal and attracts a certain type.

        I'm not even sure what the point of this is, unless it is to say that you may well be the best educated in your class if you're in undergrad and planning on getting a degree.


        Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile app
        He's just ranting about his job.
         
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        AnatomyGrey12

          Gossip

          It’s like survivor.

          There are people there who I, in survivor terms, thought formed a strong alliance, and suddenly when one isn’t there they’re talking about voting them off (literally.)

          And it’s little things. Some time after high school I realized not to worry too hard about how I was coming across. What was it that parents always said? “People don’t care.” (as in nobody is looking at you that closely.) Well, here, some of them are critically reading into your every gesture, tone, and word; then, judging you by it and spreading it around.

          Oh just wait until med school.
           
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          ODea

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            My course was nothing like that our class helped each other I was top of the class and never acted like I knew more than anyone If I was confident on a skills lab I'd make sure someone else does it when I assist. BUT those people do exist in EMS not going to lie we all have those rednecks that HAVE to take the class. Class started with 12 ended with 6. Some people just expected more from it and yes EMT-B your scope of practice is pretty small depending on your state. In my state they allow us to do a bit more but not that much more

            Phlebotomy is a good alternative work in the hospital setting and better pay. You may just be having such a bad experience because of the company you work with and your coworkers and yes I've met those "Para-gods" who think they know it all about medicine. Like I'm thankful for them for sure they save lives and everything but no need to be on a high horse and try and bring everyone down because at the end of the day they're just a paramedic and only know a small slice of medicine.

            OP, I suggest you try and work for a private company or even try becoming an ER tech. The ER Techs in my area love their job and they get a decent wage (Livable for a single person). You most likely got into a bad service which happens and makes people hate EMS. Most of the EMT's / Paramedics I've met aren't that professional though at least that's the vibe I've gotten from most. Don't get me wrong some actually take the job VERY seriously and act with professionalism when it's needed. I'm just not a fan of immaturity in the workplace when they should be acting like adults.

            I myself am no expert either obviously because I'm just an EMT-B and Pre-med so I don't have room to say much but this is just what I can tell from most of them I meet not saying I'm any better or worst just my PERSONAL opinion and I'm sure a lot of people could agree with me on the subject
             
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            Planes2Doc

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              This is the only kind of environment pre-meds should be experiencing.

              No one goes telling future airline pilots to get jobs as flight attendants or baggage handlers. No one goes telling future engineers to get jobs as construction workers. No one tells future investment bankers to get jobs as executive assistants. So why do people insist on having pre-meds put forth so much effort in doing gigs that have nothing to do with becoming a physician? I have seen all too many people bite off more than they can chew with these jobs, and then end up underemployed after having flushed their chances of medical school admission down the toilet. Volunteer, volunteer, and volunteer some more all while studying for your classes and MCAT. Then you'll start at step zero once in medical school, and you will never feel behind.
               
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              Princeton Medical Student

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                This is the only kind of environment pre-meds should be experiencing.

                No one goes telling future airline pilots to get jobs as flight attendants or baggage handlers. No one goes telling future engineers to get jobs as construction workers. No one tells future investment bankers to get jobs as executive assistants. So why do people insist on having pre-meds put forth so much effort in doing gigs that have nothing to do with becoming a physician? I have seen all too many people bite off more than they can chew with these jobs, and then end up underemployed after having flushed their chances of medical school admission down the toilet. Volunteer, volunteer, and volunteer some more all while studying for your classes and MCAT. Then you'll start at step zero once in medical school, and you will never feel behind.
                Eh, I'll kindly disagree, though I see your point. I have experienced and learned a LOT from EMS, and it has been essential in my path to medicine so far at least.
                 
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                Planes2Doc

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                  Eh, I'll kindly disagree, though I see your point. I have experienced and learned a LOT from EMS, and it has been essential in my path to medicine so far at least.

                  To each their own. I was a pizza delivery driver in college and do photography on the side even to this day. They have both helped improve my people skills, and have been helpful. My only point is that medical school doesn't require these jobs in order to succeed, since they start everyone at the very beginning. People can make whatever they want from their experiences prior to medical school, whether clinical or not.
                   
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                  SterlingMaloryArcher

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                    This is the only kind of environment pre-meds should be experiencing.

                    No one goes telling future airline pilots to get jobs as flight attendants or baggage handlers. No one goes telling future engineers to get jobs as construction workers. No one tells future investment bankers to get jobs as executive assistants. So why do people insist on having pre-meds put forth so much effort in doing gigs that have nothing to do with becoming a physician? I have seen all too many people bite off more than they can chew with these jobs, and then end up underemployed after having flushed their chances of medical school admission down the toilet. Volunteer, volunteer, and volunteer some more all while studying for your classes and MCAT. Then you'll start at step zero once in medical school, and you will never feel behind.

                    I see what you're saying, and as mentioned, I wouldn't do it again. The reasoning is simply because by the time it was all said and done to get through the class, take the practicals, take the national exam, go to enough meetings at the rescue squad, it was a little over a year of considerable hours put in that can't be claimed as "real" experience.

                    Now, what's done is done and since I have it, I'm going to use it. I actually don't like your flight attendant analogy. The actual analogous scenario would be becoming a receptionist at a doctors office.

                    If nothing else, it's still community volunteering, and real-world experience.

                    There is also A LOT of study time because we aren't the busiest, and it has saved me a lot of money not buying coffee at Starbucks (I used to go just to study because I needed a change of scenery, I don't even like coffee.)

                    Obviously though, there are things there which irritate me.
                     
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                    ArteryStudyPainting

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                      Sounds like being a premed EMT isn't what you thought it would be, for better or worse. Maybe just try EMT? Without premed driving your being there?

                      The culture is not the same as yours will be, and while not for good reason, that's the way it is. Paragods exist because they are looked down on already, and when you're constantly berated, belittled, and tired, it hurts to have to keep doing it.

                      This is a gold standard for some people, and it doesn't take a bachelor's, with great MCAT, with steller ECs, and copious amounts of money to waste.

                      I'll hit you with a big ol' TYFYS for putting up with the garbagey EMS and fire personal because they aren't to the standards of the physicians you think they are or should be (basically perfect in every way).

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                      Turkishking

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                        This is the only kind of environment pre-meds should be experiencing.

                        No one goes telling future airline pilots to get jobs as flight attendants or baggage handlers. No one goes telling future engineers to get jobs as construction workers. No one tells future investment bankers to get jobs as executive assistants. So why do people insist on having pre-meds put forth so much effort in doing gigs that have nothing to do with becoming a physician? I have seen all too many people bite off more than they can chew with these jobs, and then end up underemployed after having flushed their chances of medical school admission down the toilet. Volunteer, volunteer, and volunteer some more all while studying for your classes and MCAT. Then you'll start at step zero once in medical school, and you will never feel behind.
                        Exactly what I'm doing
                         
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                        Tyrone.

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                          I'm an EMT and it's with a great agency, but I am quitting because it is a full-time service only, and I will not let my grades suffer because I'm required to work 36+ hrs a week while taking 12+ credit hours of higher level courses. I'm looking into ER tech positions on PRN, or just volunteering in the hospitals and killing it with the other parts of my app. I am a little bit older (27; 29/30 by applying time) so I have contemplated PA for a while but I want more for my career and in medicine. I believe what you experience in EMS is relative to your agency and the demographic of your area. Every agency does have these different characters, though. Some people don't have any other plans but to work in it and when you don't exactly enjoy what you do, burnout is pretty much inevitable. I agree that you don't need to go into EMS, as it will only show you mostly pre-hospital care. From what I gather, volunteering in hospitals and any kind of job/task that can keep you around physicians in a clinical setting is ideal.

                          I agree with Planes2Doc's post. Focus on your grades, EC's (one or a few that you care about- not a lot that you barely contribute to), possibly research (if that's your thing, but be prepared to talk about it and know it well), volunteering, and killing the MCAT. We'll all start at ground zero in medical school. This isn't PA school where you're expected to have medical experience beforehand. But you are expected to have a firm grasp, from shadowing, of the physician profession... not pre-hospital care, even though it does have valuable lessons and skills one can learn from. I share your sentiment OP, but I would say the gunner mentality will certainly follow into medical school, residency and even practice, so it's best to have some tough skin and not be critical of others so you don't get burnt out yourself. Do you what you enjoy.. not because it will look good on an app. You spent time putting your post together and I don't think it was a waste; it's quite informative and appreciated. You seem to have the right intentions. I would just focus more on what's going to get you in and not what could wear you down and possibly keep you out by not focusing on other more important parts of your app. Good luck! Great post!
                           
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                          de Ribas

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                            I'm an EMT and it's with a great agency, but I am quitting because it is a full-time service only, and I will not let my grades suffer because I'm required to work 36+ hrs a week while taking 12+ credit hours of higher level courses. I'm looking into ER tech positions on PRN, or just volunteering in the hospitals and killing it with the other parts of my app. I am a little bit older (27; 29/30 by applying time) so I have contemplated PA for a while but I want more for my career and in medicine. I believe what you experience in EMS is relative to your agency and the demographic of your area. Every agency does have these different characters, though. Some people don't have any other plans but to work in it and when you don't exactly enjoy what you do, burnout is pretty much inevitable. I agree that you don't need to go into EMS, as it will only show you mostly pre-hospital care. From what I gather, volunteering in hospitals and any kind of job/task that can keep you around physicians in a clinical setting is ideal.

                            I agree with Planes2Doc's post. Focus on your grades, EC's (one or a few that you care about- not a lot that you barely contribute to), possibly research (if that's your thing, but be prepared to talk about it and know it well), volunteering, and killing the MCAT. We'll all start at ground zero in medical school. This isn't PA school where you're expected to have medical experience beforehand. But you are expected to have a firm grasp, from shadowing, of the physician profession... not pre-hospital care, even though it does have valuable lessons and skills one can learn from. I share your sentiment OP, but I would say the gunner mentality will certainly follow into medical school, residency and even practice, so it's best to have some tough skin and not be critical of others so you don't get burnt out yourself. Do you what you enjoy.. not because it will look good on an app. You spent time putting your post together and I don't think it was a waste; it's quite informative and appreciated. You seem to have the right intentions. I would just focus more on what's going to get you in and not what could wear you down and possibly keep you out by not focusing on other more important parts of your app. Good luck! Great post!

                            I have volunteered in two different hospital emergency rooms and I absolutely loved it. Every minute. I had opportunity to interact with physicians, residents, physician assistants, EMTs, nurses and patients. I have seen a lot and have participated in so much valuable experiences.

                            To each their own.
                             
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                            de Ribas

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                              This is the only kind of environment pre-meds should be experiencing.

                              No one goes telling future airline pilots to get jobs as flight attendants or baggage handlers. No one goes telling future engineers to get jobs as construction workers. No one tells future investment bankers to get jobs as executive assistants. So why do people insist on having pre-meds put forth so much effort in doing gigs that have nothing to do with becoming a physician? I have seen all too many people bite off more than they can chew with these jobs, and then end up underemployed after having flushed their chances of medical school admission down the toilet. Volunteer, volunteer, and volunteer some more all while studying for your classes and MCAT. Then you'll start at step zero once in medical school, and you will never feel behind.
                              I don't think that example with flight attendants is very applicable here. Pre-meds are encouraged or required to shadow, volunteer, acquire clinical experience not for them tobget prepared for being physicians, but to make sure each of the applicants truly knows where they are headed for the rest of their lives.

                              It is to make sure that Pre-meds are open-minded, have altruism, open to diversity, love clinical environment, can handle stress, can balance their lives, have time management skills. It is for the benefit of applicants themselves to make sure they like medicine.


                              Being flight attendants, banker investors, or construction is so much different than field of medicine.

                              It is not for pre-meds to learn what physicians do, but to make sure they have researched about it enough and can speak about it.
                               

                              de Ribas

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                                When I first signed up for my EMT-B class I thought it would be the best thing I ever did for my medical school application. Additionally, after so much medical reading out of pure interest, I was so excited to finally get a taste of real patient care. When I envisioned my future as an EMT, I was careful not to have unrealistic expectations: I knew that most patients wouldn't be dying and I was well aware that EMT-B's have a relatively limited scope of practice. One thing I failed to realistically expect was the people who I would work with.

                                Some people might think this doesn't matter, and maybe it won't/doesn't to you; but let me try to paint a picture of what I've seen in a little over a year.


                                The Class Composition Will Probably Surprise You

                                My friend (who is now pre-PT, or however that works) made it to the first day of class about 5 minutes before I did and texted me "These people are trashy!"

                                They weren't what we expected to say the least, but we gave them a chance, and a handful turned out to be great personalities, some seemingly unlikely.

                                I'm not at all saying that premeds are the best people that could ever happen to EMS, there was a lot of diversity in that "good" handful of classmates: A lady whose day job was a bank teller, had no prior clinical knowledge, didn't want to switch careers, just wanted to volunteer helping her community; A pre-PA who was also an ER scribe, but was mature, and caring, didn't come across as a "gunner"; One and only one of the redneck fireman who was required to take the class but actually tried and cared; A 68-year-old widow who was bored in her retirement, also put forth a lot of effort. Some of these may never be great clinical problem solvers, but they will be due help, and fulfill their roles good enough.

                                Everyone else, not so good. Not intellectually curious in the slightest way, not morally or ethically upstanding, not presentable (and I'm giving a lot of lee-way), and very very out of shape - morbidly obese, most smoked, many did recreational drugs (the hard stuff.) They didn't get along, had no tact, the trashy moms would get into fights in the middle of class (raising voice and name calling, although fist fights have happened at my station.) Also, wanted to be heroes, in the tackiest way one could ever show they want recognition, ever.

                                Thankfully, the worst of them either didn't pass the class, could never pass the practical’s or the national written exam, or find the initiative to join anywhere once they did. Still, a lot slipped through the cracks, and a lot more who may not qualify as "riff-raff" but are still not good company.

                                The Trauma Junkies who think "Sick Calls" are BS (and would probably be over their head in an actual multi-system trauma that was circling the drain)

                                When I started my Basic course I knew from the very beginning that there would be a lot of toothaches, upset stomachs, and other non-emergent calls.

                                We went out on a call recently for an abdominal pain, of course she wasn't dying, but she was in real pain. I noticed my partner in the back was a little less personable with her than me, but didn't really rub me the wrong way until after we got to the hospital while writing report he complained about how it was "BS" and had a horrible attitude the whole time.

                                Then when we went back to the bay for her to sign she sat up and looked at me with this grimacing face and I knew exactly what was about to happen. I put on a glove really quick and got a container for her to throw up in - she was MISERABLE. I thought maybe after he saw that he would see it wasn’t such "BS."

                                On the way back, he STILL complained about it. He has no excuse to be burnt out or calloused - he's a month out of his Basic course.

                                This attitude is actually very common. Usually, among the newest members.


                                Hostile/Know-It-All/"Para-god"

                                Most doctors I've met are humbler.

                                This is one place where you should be open to help, suggestions, and continuing education. For many, none of these things are welcome and taken as insults.

                                I feel I have to walk on eggshells because of how fragile the big egos are. You can step on somebody's toes and not even know it, and if you do, they will hold it against you for a year and probably also try to turn everybody against you (this hasn't happened to me yet, but I've seen it happen.)

                                One EMT-B who is often at the station when I am is constantly trying to prove his superior knowledge (it's not.) He got there about 4 weeks before me and it was obvious he took great pleasure in showing me where things were, and asking me questions like "When would you use this?" "You have a patient with _________ what’s the next thing you do?" and I would usually give him an answer better than he was expecting.

                                Sometimes I'll correct him, and I'll basically caudle him by putting it in the gentlest non-threatening way possible and he'll defend his erroneous statement when I'm literally looking at what our protocols say.


                                The New Guy that Hates Being New

                                One guy lied about being a "paramedic" in a neighboring state which has reciprocity. Every time we had to call in a paramedic for a patient he would be SURE to tell them he used to be a paramedic. It really bothered him that he was an “just” an EMT.

                                Well, his story doesn't add up:

                                1.) The neighboring state has reciprocity - meaning it would have most likely transferred

                                2.) He said he was a paramedic there when he was 16, when I asked "A paramedic at 16?" He lied and said yes. (You can't be an ALS provider there under 18, I checked.)

                                3.) He didn't know how to read an EKG, although you better bet he pretended (For those of you who don't know, EKG's are paramedic territory)

                                Do I have STUPID written on my forehead???

                                You're new, realize that and take this time to learn.


                                Gossip

                                It’s like survivor.

                                There are people there who I, in survivor terms, thought formed a strong alliance, and suddenly when one isn’t there they’re talking about voting them off (literally.)

                                And it’s little things. Some time after high school I realized not to worry too hard about how I was coming across. What was it that parents always said? “People don’t care.” (as in nobody is looking at you that closely.) Well, here, some of them are critically reading into your every gesture, tone, and word; then, judging you by it and spreading it around.

                                It makes you wonder.


                                Conclusion

                                As a premed EMT, you may feel like the odd man out at times. There are probably 5 or 6 different "cliques" at my station, and at least 3 of them are different flavors of "rednecks." When I first got there, I was lucky enough to get in good with a couple nice groups: One of the redneck ones and one of "Day-Time Professionals." I call them rednecks affectionately, they're really good guys but obviously their background is a little different than mine, although maybe not as much as they at first thought. They picked up on my "preppy" style, the fact I was always doing homework, and talked a little differently. I guess they assumed I was such a softie that they filtered what they said the first few days and kept giving these disclaimers (trigger-warnings lol) before they said anything as if I had never heard locker-room talk before; I also like fishing, and even have (my parents have) a lot of land out in the country for hunting which really surprised them. There's also a PA, a psychologist, and couple nurses who I like running with.

                                Overall, it's a good experience (probably not one I would do again, for other reasons), but it was a little bit of a "culture shock." Other premed activities tend to have a common denominator that makes them sort of run together, this one just doesn't seem like the rest, which can be refreshing if you play your cards right.
                                Wasn't there similar post with similar discussion in the other thread?

                                why again?
                                 

                                mydogmolly

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                                  Yea my EMS class was really similar. A few trashy single moms, a handful of veterans, a bunch of police officers/firefighters who needed the cert, a handful of pre-health college kids, and then a few retired folks who wanted the cert to volunteer or work on the side. It was basically exactly how your described it minus the "redneck" culture, but all the trappings of trashiness still applied (guys would show up dipping, the moms would show up in crop tops/shorts and tac boots, etc.).

                                  My fondest memory was when one of the meathead guys stood up and threatened to cave in my instructors face because he dropped a Game of Thrones spoiler in class.
                                   
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                                  pillowsnice

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                                    I understand what you're saying. EMS is an extremely different environment compared to college or medical school. Most of the people I volunteered with werent interested in furthering their education and were content with being an EMT. Now, this doesn't make them bad people - in fact, most were very supportive of my desire to attend medical school. However, many of the things you mentioned are not unique to EMS. You will meet physicians who are arrogant and unempathetic, who will think of some patients complaints as BS. Medicine is not a utopia where everyone is nice. You will have to work as a team with other medical professionals including EMS providers.
                                     
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                                    Goro

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                                      Glorified taxi driver.
                                      When I first signed up for my EMT-B class I thought it would be the best thing I ever did for my medical school application. Additionally, after so much medical reading out of pure interest, I was so excited to finally get a taste of real patient care. When I envisioned my future as an EMT, I was careful not to have unrealistic expectations: I knew that most patients wouldn't be dying and I was well aware that EMT-B's have a relatively limited scope of practice. One thing I failed to realistically expect was the people who I would work with.

                                      Some people might think this doesn't matter, and maybe it won't/doesn't to you; but let me try to paint a picture of what I've seen in a little over a year.


                                      The Class Composition Will Probably Surprise You

                                      My friend (who is now pre-PT, or however that works) made it to the first day of class about 5 minutes before I did and texted me "These people are trashy!"

                                      They weren't what we expected to say the least, but we gave them a chance, and a handful turned out to be great personalities, some seemingly unlikely.

                                      I'm not at all saying that premeds are the best people that could ever happen to EMS, there was a lot of diversity in that "good" handful of classmates: A lady whose day job was a bank teller, had no prior clinical knowledge, didn't want to switch careers, just wanted to volunteer helping her community; A pre-PA who was also an ER scribe, but was mature, and caring, didn't come across as a "gunner"; One and only one of the redneck fireman who was required to take the class but actually tried and cared; A 68-year-old widow who was bored in her retirement, also put forth a lot of effort. Some of these may never be great clinical problem solvers, but they will be due help, and fulfill their roles good enough.

                                      Everyone else, not so good. Not intellectually curious in the slightest way, not morally or ethically upstanding, not presentable (and I'm giving a lot of lee-way), and very very out of shape - morbidly obese, most smoked, many did recreational drugs (the hard stuff.) They didn't get along, had no tact, the trashy moms would get into fights in the middle of class (raising voice and name calling, although fist fights have happened at my station.) Also, wanted to be heroes, in the tackiest way one could ever show they want recognition, ever.

                                      Thankfully, the worst of them either didn't pass the class, could never pass the practical’s or the national written exam, or find the initiative to join anywhere once they did. Still, a lot slipped through the cracks, and a lot more who may not qualify as "riff-raff" but are still not good company.

                                      The Trauma Junkies who think "Sick Calls" are BS (and would probably be over their head in an actual multi-system trauma that was circling the drain)

                                      When I started my Basic course I knew from the very beginning that there would be a lot of toothaches, upset stomachs, and other non-emergent calls.

                                      We went out on a call recently for an abdominal pain, of course she wasn't dying, but she was in real pain. I noticed my partner in the back was a little less personable with her than me, but didn't really rub me the wrong way until after we got to the hospital while writing report he complained about how it was "BS" and had a horrible attitude the whole time.

                                      Then when we went back to the bay for her to sign she sat up and looked at me with this grimacing face and I knew exactly what was about to happen. I put on a glove really quick and got a container for her to throw up in - she was MISERABLE. I thought maybe after he saw that he would see it wasn’t such "BS."

                                      On the way back, he STILL complained about it. He has no excuse to be burnt out or calloused - he's a month out of his Basic course.

                                      This attitude is actually very common. Usually, among the newest members.


                                      Hostile/Know-It-All/"Para-god"

                                      Most doctors I've met are humbler.

                                      This is one place where you should be open to help, suggestions, and continuing education. For many, none of these things are welcome and taken as insults.

                                      I feel I have to walk on eggshells because of how fragile the big egos are. You can step on somebody's toes and not even know it, and if you do, they will hold it against you for a year and probably also try to turn everybody against you (this hasn't happened to me yet, but I've seen it happen.)

                                      One EMT-B who is often at the station when I am is constantly trying to prove his superior knowledge (it's not.) He got there about 4 weeks before me and it was obvious he took great pleasure in showing me where things were, and asking me questions like "When would you use this?" "You have a patient with _________ what’s the next thing you do?" and I would usually give him an answer better than he was expecting.

                                      Sometimes I'll correct him, and I'll basically caudle him by putting it in the gentlest non-threatening way possible and he'll defend his erroneous statement when I'm literally looking at what our protocols say.


                                      The New Guy that Hates Being New

                                      One guy lied about being a "paramedic" in a neighboring state which has reciprocity. Every time we had to call in a paramedic for a patient he would be SURE to tell them he used to be a paramedic. It really bothered him that he was an “just” an EMT.

                                      Well, his story doesn't add up:

                                      1.) The neighboring state has reciprocity - meaning it would have most likely transferred

                                      2.) He said he was a paramedic there when he was 16, when I asked "A paramedic at 16?" He lied and said yes. (You can't be an ALS provider there under 18, I checked.)

                                      3.) He didn't know how to read an EKG, although you better bet he pretended (For those of you who don't know, EKG's are paramedic territory)

                                      Do I have STUPID written on my forehead???

                                      You're new, realize that and take this time to learn.


                                      Gossip

                                      It’s like survivor.

                                      There are people there who I, in survivor terms, thought formed a strong alliance, and suddenly when one isn’t there they’re talking about voting them off (literally.)

                                      And it’s little things. Some time after high school I realized not to worry too hard about how I was coming across. What was it that parents always said? “People don’t care.” (as in nobody is looking at you that closely.) Well, here, some of them are critically reading into your every gesture, tone, and word; then, judging you by it and spreading it around.

                                      It makes you wonder.


                                      Conclusion

                                      As a premed EMT, you may feel like the odd man out at times. There are probably 5 or 6 different "cliques" at my station, and at least 3 of them are different flavors of "rednecks." When I first got there, I was lucky enough to get in good with a couple nice groups: One of the redneck ones and one of "Day-Time Professionals." I call them rednecks affectionately, they're really good guys but obviously their background is a little different than mine, although maybe not as much as they at first thought. They picked up on my "preppy" style, the fact I was always doing homework, and talked a little differently. I guess they assumed I was such a softie that they filtered what they said the first few days and kept giving these disclaimers (trigger-warnings lol) before they said anything as if I had never heard locker-room talk before; I also like fishing, and even have (my parents have) a lot of land out in the country for hunting which really surprised them. There's also a PA, a psychologist, and couple nurses who I like running with.

                                      Overall, it's a good experience (probably not one I would do again, for other reasons), but it was a little bit of a "culture shock." Other premed activities tend to have a common denominator that makes them sort of run together, this one just doesn't seem like the rest, which can be refreshing if you play your cards right.
                                       
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                                      JudgeIsInTheHouse

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                                        When I first signed up for my EMT-B class I thought it would be the best thing I ever did for my medical school application. Additionally, after so much medical reading out of pure interest, I was so excited to finally get a taste of real patient care. When I envisioned my future as an EMT, I was careful not to have unrealistic expectations: I knew that most patients wouldn't be dying and I was well aware that EMT-B's have a relatively limited scope of practice. One thing I failed to realistically expect was the people who I would work with.

                                        Some people might think this doesn't matter, and maybe it won't/doesn't to you; but let me try to paint a picture of what I've seen in a little over a year.


                                        The Class Composition Will Probably Surprise You

                                        My friend (who is now pre-PT, or however that works) made it to the first day of class about 5 minutes before I did and texted me "These people are trashy!"

                                        They weren't what we expected to say the least, but we gave them a chance, and a handful turned out to be great personalities, some seemingly unlikely.

                                        I'm not at all saying that premeds are the best people that could ever happen to EMS, there was a lot of diversity in that "good" handful of classmates: A lady whose day job was a bank teller, had no prior clinical knowledge, didn't want to switch careers, just wanted to volunteer helping her community; A pre-PA who was also an ER scribe, but was mature, and caring, didn't come across as a "gunner"; One and only one of the redneck fireman who was required to take the class but actually tried and cared; A 68-year-old widow who was bored in her retirement, also put forth a lot of effort. Some of these may never be great clinical problem solvers, but they will be due help, and fulfill their roles good enough.

                                        Everyone else, not so good. Not intellectually curious in the slightest way, not morally or ethically upstanding, not presentable (and I'm giving a lot of lee-way), and very very out of shape - morbidly obese, most smoked, many did recreational drugs (the hard stuff.) They didn't get along, had no tact, the trashy moms would get into fights in the middle of class (raising voice and name calling, although fist fights have happened at my station.) Also, wanted to be heroes, in the tackiest way one could ever show they want recognition, ever.

                                        Thankfully, the worst of them either didn't pass the class, could never pass the practical’s or the national written exam, or find the initiative to join anywhere once they did. Still, a lot slipped through the cracks, and a lot more who may not qualify as "riff-raff" but are still not good company.

                                        The Trauma Junkies who think "Sick Calls" are BS (and would probably be over their head in an actual multi-system trauma that was circling the drain)

                                        When I started my Basic course I knew from the very beginning that there would be a lot of toothaches, upset stomachs, and other non-emergent calls.

                                        We went out on a call recently for an abdominal pain, of course she wasn't dying, but she was in real pain. I noticed my partner in the back was a little less personable with her than me, but didn't really rub me the wrong way until after we got to the hospital while writing report he complained about how it was "BS" and had a horrible attitude the whole time.

                                        Then when we went back to the bay for her to sign she sat up and looked at me with this grimacing face and I knew exactly what was about to happen. I put on a glove really quick and got a container for her to throw up in - she was MISERABLE. I thought maybe after he saw that he would see it wasn’t such "BS."

                                        On the way back, he STILL complained about it. He has no excuse to be burnt out or calloused - he's a month out of his Basic course.

                                        This attitude is actually very common. Usually, among the newest members.


                                        Hostile/Know-It-All/"Para-god"

                                        Most doctors I've met are humbler.

                                        This is one place where you should be open to help, suggestions, and continuing education. For many, none of these things are welcome and taken as insults.

                                        I feel I have to walk on eggshells because of how fragile the big egos are. You can step on somebody's toes and not even know it, and if you do, they will hold it against you for a year and probably also try to turn everybody against you (this hasn't happened to me yet, but I've seen it happen.)

                                        One EMT-B who is often at the station when I am is constantly trying to prove his superior knowledge (it's not.) He got there about 4 weeks before me and it was obvious he took great pleasure in showing me where things were, and asking me questions like "When would you use this?" "You have a patient with _________ what’s the next thing you do?" and I would usually give him an answer better than he was expecting.

                                        Sometimes I'll correct him, and I'll basically caudle him by putting it in the gentlest non-threatening way possible and he'll defend his erroneous statement when I'm literally looking at what our protocols say.


                                        The New Guy that Hates Being New

                                        One guy lied about being a "paramedic" in a neighboring state which has reciprocity. Every time we had to call in a paramedic for a patient he would be SURE to tell them he used to be a paramedic. It really bothered him that he was an “just” an EMT.

                                        Well, his story doesn't add up:

                                        1.) The neighboring state has reciprocity - meaning it would have most likely transferred

                                        2.) He said he was a paramedic there when he was 16, when I asked "A paramedic at 16?" He lied and said yes. (You can't be an ALS provider there under 18, I checked.)

                                        3.) He didn't know how to read an EKG, although you better bet he pretended (For those of you who don't know, EKG's are paramedic territory)

                                        Do I have STUPID written on my forehead???

                                        You're new, realize that and take this time to learn.


                                        Gossip

                                        It’s like survivor.

                                        There are people there who I, in survivor terms, thought formed a strong alliance, and suddenly when one isn’t there they’re talking about voting them off (literally.)

                                        And it’s little things. Some time after high school I realized not to worry too hard about how I was coming across. What was it that parents always said? “People don’t care.” (as in nobody is looking at you that closely.) Well, here, some of them are critically reading into your every gesture, tone, and word; then, judging you by it and spreading it around.

                                        It makes you wonder.


                                        Conclusion

                                        As a premed EMT, you may feel like the odd man out at times. There are probably 5 or 6 different "cliques" at my station, and at least 3 of them are different flavors of "rednecks." When I first got there, I was lucky enough to get in good with a couple nice groups: One of the redneck ones and one of "Day-Time Professionals." I call them rednecks affectionately, they're really good guys but obviously their background is a little different than mine, although maybe not as much as they at first thought. They picked up on my "preppy" style, the fact I was always doing homework, and talked a little differently. I guess they assumed I was such a softie that they filtered what they said the first few days and kept giving these disclaimers (trigger-warnings lol) before they said anything as if I had never heard locker-room talk before; I also like fishing, and even have (my parents have) a lot of land out in the country for hunting which really surprised them. There's also a PA, a psychologist, and couple nurses who I like running with.

                                        Overall, it's a good experience (probably not one I would do again, for other reasons), but it was a little bit of a "culture shock." Other premed activities tend to have a common denominator that makes them sort of run together, this one just doesn't seem like the rest, which can be refreshing if you play your cards right.

                                        I recently let my EMT card expire, and I have to agree with so much of what you're saying. If you were to tell my 18 year old self that I would be entering an environment of such ego and downright nastiness, I wouldn't have believed you. "Paragods" ultimately made me not want to do EMS anymore. At some point, you have to look in the mirror and say that you deserve to be respected more, especially if you're volunteering your time.

                                        What I will say, however, is that being an EMT was a valuable experience because I grew more comfortable adapting to very stressful situations. When backed to the wall with limited resources, scope of practice, and education, you gain a very strong improvising mindset.
                                         
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                                        SterlingMaloryArcher

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                                          Oh lawd OP won't even come close to knowing the real meaning of trashy until he meets patients in an actual provider role.
                                          You want a bet? I'm a board-certified trashologist. I know trashy...

                                          Glorified taxi driver.
                                          No not really I can't even drive the ambulance. EVOC drivers are glorified taxi drivers.
                                           

                                          Conflagration

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                                            I had a friend moved in his EMT position because of some nastiness between him and the rest of the people in the ambulance. My friend's on the autism spectrum and the others were mercilessly picking on him for something he genuinely can't help. Short fuses + high pressure = people-breaking stress. His HR had to step in and have him moved to an ER Tech position because it was just getting hostile.

                                            I think people forget that as pre-medical students, you're just visiting what has been their daily axe to grind for years. And there's a lot of bitterness in that, and sometimes just remembering that you're not going to be that way forever is what helps break through situations like that. My friend in three years will hopefully be applying to a medical school, and they may still be doing the night shift saving the same characters from themselves. They certainly shouldn't have been a bunch of ingrates to my friend, but they have valid frustrations and they're kind of stuck there. I feel badly for them.
                                             
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                                            grandepike

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                                              I would respectfully disagree with "glorified taxi driver" and all the generalizations being made about EMTs. I've been a volunteer for the past 12 months and it's taught me more about patient care then I ever expected to learn as an undergrad. It's also been a big lesson in humility. So what if someone thinks they're better than you? So what if your class is filled with a bunch of rednecks? It's a tough world and you never know what people are working through.
                                               
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                                              ArteryStudyPainting

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                                                Personally, I went into EMS because I was sick of being told to file this, answer this phone, make this chart, but God forbid, you look at the patient in the eye or we'll take you out.

                                                You get to matter and actually care for a patient's health, at a time where you could be doing a lot of things that matter, but don't really matter.

                                                Sent from my SM-G900V using SDN mobile
                                                 
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