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Pros/cons of EMT?

scubascuba

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Sep 15, 2019
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I'm a med student now and I worked as an EMT for a few years during undergrad. I loved it.

Pros: It pushed me to continue studying to be a doctor by solidifying my love for medicine. You'll get a lot of practice on how to take histories, assess patients, and try and figure out what's going on with patients which is gives you a little bit of a leg up in med school. If you're able to get on a critical care ambulance with a nurse, some of them will take the time to teach you a lot of clinical stuff (reading EKGs, meds, ventilators, etc). Also on slow days I had a lot of time to study which was helpful during undergrad.

Cons: A lot of ambulance companies suck and will take advantage of you. Pay isn't great. Most require 8-24 hour shifts which can take up a bit of time and can be hard to balance if you're studying (I worked a lot of nights and just slept whenever I could).
 
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FrkyBgStok

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it will look great on your application as patient contact and exposure. I am sure that it has some clinical crossover but the problem is that you will get some clinical stuff, then multiple years of non-clinical stuff it won't be beneficial for, and then back to clinical stuff. So a big gap. And from my experience, certain EMTs can read EKGs but that doesn't mean they completely understand EKGs. Same with meds and ventilators. but it will definitely be positive for a med school app.
 
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Ell19

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Oct 1, 2016
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I am an incoming first year med student and have been an EMT for the past 3 years, at a busy 911 station- I think the experience for a low-level medical professional is incredible. You really get a lot of experience dealing with almost every kind of emergency and medical condition. You will HAVE to learn how to think on your feet, critically think and assess the situation, and make decisions appropriately. You will learn how to talk to patients and their families, how to get a medical history and really figure out what is going on. YOU make decisions for your patient in the field, and as a low-level provider, that's invaluable experience. You are the primary caregiver and you have to do everything you can for your patient. So, in terms of pre-med, it definitely looks great on medical school apps. For medical school itself, you will gain a lot of knowledge as an EMT and through paramedics, but your main strength will be clinicals- talking to patients is an art and it's such an important skill that should help in clinical rotations. Will you be able to read EKGs going into medical school? Probably not, but you will gain a lot of knowledge on the job that many students maybe not know.

Those are the pros, here are cons:
-EMTs generally get paid crap
-you work long hours, usually 12 hour shifts, some companies does 8-24 hours though
-sleep sometimes is not great
-it is not for everyone- some people cannot handle emergency situations, and that's okay
-I wouldn't recommend continuing it during actual medial school didactic years, maybe during clinical years, but you want to focus on school when you are in school

Me personally, being an EMT has been invaluable experience. I absolutely love it. You ARE the primary caregiver and make decisions for your patient- and in comparison to other lower level medical professions- MA/CNA/NA, those professions don't get that experience (generally they just take automatic vital signs). Yes, there are paramedics in the field, but I can name many times where they are unavailable or too far away, and now I am the person who has to manage a critical patient. Also, when you get to clinical rotations, it won't be your first time talking to "real" patients or their families, it won't be your first time delivering bad news to families, and that is a skill.

Not sure if that helps, but you can message me if you want.
 
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