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There are a variety of medical professionals who help the sick and injured in different settings. EMTs and EMTs are a type that specializes in emergency medicine, usually in the pre-hospital setting. Some people wonder if they really are medics (physicians) and what are they really capable of doing in a medical setting?
EMTs and paramedics are emergency medical professionals, but they are not a type of doctor. They receive much less training and education and always work under the direction of a doctor. However, they are still very important and can be more helpful than most doctors in a prehospital setting.
Physicians and paramedics are necessary in health care and serve different purposes and functions. Let's take a look at these professions and see what makes them so different, even though they do some of the same things.
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Also read:Is EMT a good job/career? Is it right for you?
EMTs vs. doctors
Health care is a huge industry. In the US, private healthcare accounts for more than11% of all jobs.
Within this system, there is a wide variety of different positions to accommodate the different medical needs of your patients. A specialized position in emergency medicine is the EMT or Emergency Medical Technician.
People often see these paramedics show up at someone's home for a medical emergency and wonder if they are really doctors. I have been asked this question several times on stage, and the truth is that no.
Paramedics are not doctors, not even close. But that doesn't mean they aren't important.
Let's take a look at each one.
Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
Emergency Medical Technicians are a vital part of the pre-hospital Emergency Medical System (EMS), 9-1-1.
Paramedics often work in ambulances and fire department apparatus (engines, trucks, rescue squads) responding to emergency calls from medical services. They may work alongside paramedics and other healthcare professionals. Paramedics may also sometimes work in the hospital.
paramedics pass110 to 180 hoursclassroom, laboratory and manipulative skills training for approximately 6 months. After completing the program, they must pass a written (or computer-based) test as well as a skills scenario test to be certified by theNREMT(National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians) and your state EMS agency.
They are trained to performbasic vital support(BLS) in emergency situations. As a general rule, they can't perform invasive procedures (anything that breaks the skin, like IV needles), though this can vary by state.
They are also not authorized to diagnose medical conditions. They will treat symptoms in ERs based on what they think is the cause.
- Perform emergency medical evaluations.
- Put BLS airway add-ons likeoropharyngeal(takeover bid) andnasopharyngeal(NPA) airways
- Perform bag-valve-mask ventilation (BVM)
- Executecardiopulmonary resuscitation(RCP)
- To useAutomatic External Defibrillators(AED) (for shock to irregular heart rhythms in cardiac arrest)
- Aspiration of debris from the respiratory tract.
- Pulse oximetry (blood oxygen)
- Immobilization injuries (such as immobilization of the spine and eventraction splints)
- Glucose (blood sugar) test
- Give oxygen, oral glucose, and sometimesactivated carbononarcano(naloxone)
Additionally, paramedics can help patients with certain prescription medications, including:
- Inhaled medications such asalbuterol
- epinephrine injectors (EpiPen)
As we can see, paramedics can perform many different medical interventions, without the direct supervision of a doctor, that can save lives and limbs. However, there are very specific criteria regarding what they are trained and authorized to do as physicians.
Paramedics learn the basics needed for emergency scenarios (called BLS) so they can focus on potentially life-saving interventions outside of the hospital setting.
Here is more information on how to be an EMT:
Doctors are a higher level of medical care than paramedics.
Doctors can diagnose (determine the cause or disease responsible for the medical symptoms) and treat these conditions. They have a much bigger toolbox when it comes to testing and treatment, whether in an emergency or otherwise.
To become a doctor, the education is extensive and takes much longer than becoming an EMT.
Physicians typically spend 4 years earning a bachelor's degree, then 4 years in medical school, followed by3 to 8 yearsGraduate Medical Education (GME) programs (internship/residency programs. That's 11-16 years of education! And sometimes longer for certain specialties.
During their schooling, they will learn, in depth, about:
- AnatomymiPhysiology(how the body works)
- pathophysiology(how diseases affect the body)
- Pharmacology(how drugs affect the body)
- Immunology(how the body is protected)
- Infectious diseases
- surgical procedures
- genetics(how genes and DNA affect body function and disease)
- Nutrition(how does food affect the body)
EMTs do learn a little about some of these topics, but very little compared to an MD.
This video shows what doctors do and how to become one:
Doctors often specialize in a certain area of medicine and therein lies their specialization.
Therefore, an emergency department physician will generally have the best training, tools, and resources to treat someone in an emergency (even more so than an EMT).
However, a doctor specializing in oncology (cancer), pulmonology (lungs) or ophthalmology (eyes) may not be the best health professional to treat emergent conditions (obviously, depending on the type of emergency).
In a real emergency, paramedics may be better equipped and trained to save someone's life.
Occasionally, on 9-1-1 calls, a doctor will be present and will insist on knowing what is best for the patient asking for help. Unless it is an emergency document, this is usually not the case.
First responders in fire trucks and ambulances (EMTs, EMTs, firefighters, etc.) really are the experts when it comes to emergency medicine outside of the hospital.
Physicians and paramedics have different roles, but both are very important in the medical system. Although they have very different levels of education, both may be the best provider to help in their area of expertise.
I have heard that in some countries doctors respond to emergency calls for medical assistance outside the hospital. In the United States, at least in my experience, this is not the case.
I think that may be where these questions originated from. If someone moves to the United States from another country and is used to doctors coming to their house when they call an emergency number, it can be assumed that this is the case everywhere.
But in the United States and many other countries, you'll get paramedics, paramedics, firefighters, and police officers (not doctors) when you call 9-1-1.
And the paramedics?
AParamediche is actually a type of EMT. Think of paramedics as advanced paramedics. They have more education and training and can perform a broader range of medical evaluations and treatments.
To become a paramedic, you must first become an EMT-Basic (also known as just an EMT).
Paramedic education builds on what was learned in EMT school, and you are sometimes required to work as an EMT to gain experience, before being admitted to a paramedic program.
These programs usually require1090 to 1330 hours(or more) of instruction and typically takes 12-18 months to complete. Sometimes they even get a college degree inparamedicina.
|paramedical education||Required Hours|
|Didactics (classroom)||minimum of 450 hours|
|clinic (hospital)||minimum of 160 hours|
|Internship (ambulance)||480 to 720 hours|
Paramedics can obviously do the same things as an EMT, but they can also:
- Use and interpretation of heart monitors (including shocking irregular heart rhythms)
- Start intravenous (IV needles) and intraosseous (IO) lines
- manage fluids
- Administer drugs intravenously, injection (shot), mouth, or IO (needle directly into bone)
- Use advanced airway tools (intubation, laryngoscopes, etc.)
And sometimes more, depending on what the medical director in the area allows.
Compared to an EMT certification, paramedics are actually licensed. They have much more on-the-job training, as well as a longer total education program.
This is because they are allowed to perform these more invasive procedures than an EMT and because they are often the highest medical authority at the scene of a 9-1-1 emergency call. (unless there is an MD there).
Do you have to go to medical school to be an EMT?
To become an EMT, you don't need to go to medical school as we mentioned above. An EMT program usually only takes about 6 months to complete, while medical school takes more than 4 years.
This is really a great way to get some healthcare experience. You can get an EMT certification relatively quickly and start working. This can help you decide which career path you should pursue.
Perhaps you decide that you like the medical field, but the ER environment is too stressful, or you want to work in a long-term care setting. That experience can be invaluable in putting you on the best path, without wasting years to get into a career you don't like.
Or maybe you love the emergency environment and want to become a firefighter or paramedic.
Even if you are considering becoming a doctor, the EMT can be a great first step.
Can an EMT become a doctor?
You can always become a doctor after working as an EMT. Or maybe you could even work on an ambulance while you head off to medical school or college.
To do this, you'll still need to go through the same education (there are no shortcuts to being an EMT).
However, your ER experience, as well as your patient assessment skills, can be of great help to you as you transition into other medical fields. This will give you a huge advantage over some of your medical school peers who don't have that real world experience.
One of the hardest (and most important) things for most people starting out in any healthcare profession is their bedtime. This is essentially talking to your patient and treating them like a real person.
This sounds simple, but most people struggle to talk to their patients in a way that makes them feel heard and in good hands, plus get all the information they need to figure out what's going on and how best to treat it. . . they.
These assessment skills that you can learn as an EMT can ensure that you become an amazing doctor (or any other medical professional) later in your career.
Can they work in a hospital?
Most EMT jobs are pre-hospital positions on ambulances and fire trucks, however they may sometimes work in hospitals as well.
The most common hospital job for paramedics is called an emergency technician.
OneER (emergency room) technicianworks alongside doctors and nurses in the emergency room to help care for people using the skills they learned in EMT school. This is a different role compared to an EMT outside of the hospital.
You will work under more direct supervision and in an (obviously) more controlled environment. It still helps manage more emerging types of traumatic and medical conditions, but in a very different setting.
Emergency technicians may be trained and authorized to perform some tasks that regular paramedics do not perform, such as drawing blood and collecting other laboratory samples for analysis. This may require additional training or certifications.
This may be a good position for someone thinking of becoming an RN or doctor later on, as it gives you a better perspective on working within a hospital compared to most EMT jobs.
How to Become an EMT: Expert Guide
Can you live on a paramedic or paramedic salary? $$$
Paramedic vs firefighter: what is the difference?
Do firefighters need to be paramedics or paramedics?
What is the difference between paramedics and doctors? ›
A paramedic is a medical professional who specializes in emergency treatment. They are not doctors, nurses, or physician's assistants. The word paramedic is a combination of two terms. "Para" means next to, and "medic" means doctor.What is the differences between paramedic and nurse? ›
Paramedics are tasked with stabilizing patients and delivering emergency care before the patient gets to the hospital. Nurses must perform bedside care and a variety of other duties once patients get to a hospital or other healthcare facility.What are the differences between paramedic and EMT? ›
Paramedics are more highly trained EMTs capable of more advanced medical procedures, such as providing oral and intravenous medication, monitoring electrocardiograms (EKG), and performing tracheotomies. Paramedics provide care to patients as they enter hospitals and emergency rooms from ambulances.What is the difference between an EMT and a paramedic quizlet? ›
What is the difference between an EMT-basic and an EMT-paramedic? An EMT-basic is an individual who is qualified to perform basic life support measures. A paramedic is an individual who is qualified to perform advanced life support care.Are paramedics as qualified as doctors? ›
Paramedics are highly trained, degree -level professionals. They have been first responders in a variety of situations, They also see the same types of patients as GPs, and are experts at keeping patients at home and linked to various community teams.Are there two types of paramedics? ›
We have two types of APP – Advanced Paramedics in Critical Care and Advanced Paramedics in Urgent Care.What can nurses do that paramedics Cannot? ›
Although paramedics and RNs perform some of the same tasks – such as starting an intravenous line – RNs have an extremely broad scope of practice. Duties of an RN include emergency, acute, convalescent and outpatient care, while paramedics are limited to pre-hospital emergency care.Are paramedics basically nurses? ›
Some of the differences between paramedics and nurses include: Nurses primarily care for patients in hospitals or medical facilities whereas paramedics treat patients at the site of an emergency. This affects their training since they each learn the skills necessary for their work environments.Who is more educated a nurse or a paramedic? ›
Education Timeline: Paramedics spend just under two years in school between their EMT and paramedic training. Registered nurses spend 2-4 years earning their degrees. Work Setting: Registered nurses often work in hospitals and outpatient settings while paramedics most often work in the field or in an ambulance.Can paramedics do stitches? ›
They can suture, administer antibiotics and perform advanced airway techniques in addition to what the typical ground medic does. Remote paramedics are also trained to provide other services outside the scope of the medical training of a traditional paramedic. typical paramedic does.
Are paramedics and ambulance the same? ›
Paramedics are involved in the coordination of ambulance resources and dispatch as duty managers, clinicians and communications support personnel.What is the highest level of paramedic? ›
Critical Care Paramedic: Highest level of specialized care with a focus on acute interfacility transport, air medical response, and infant, child and perinatal care.Who knows more of a paramedic or an EMT? ›
At this level, candidates learn EMT-level skills as well as more advanced ones, such as using complex airway devices, intravenous fluids, and some medications. Paramedics have the most advanced level of education. To enter specific paramedical training programs, they must already be EMT certified.Which is more educated EMT or paramedic? ›
Becoming a paramedic is the highest level of prehospital care and requires much more advanced training than becoming an EMT. Paramedic training is quite rigorous and takes one to two years to complete, depending on state requirements and if you are pursuing a technical certificate or an associates degree.What is the difference between EMT B and EMT A vs paramedic? ›
EMT is short for EMT-Basic, or EMT-B, and refers to a technician who has less training than an EMT-Paramedic, often simply referred to as a paramedic. EMTs and Paramedics both provide care for patients in the ambulance before they arrive at the hospital.How can a paramedic become a doctor? ›
- Degree requirements. Doctors must have an MBBS degree and a minimum of 3 years experience post-registration.
- Other routes. Paramedics must have a first degree in Paramedic Practice at 2:2 or above, be registered with the Health Professions Council and have a minimum of 3 years experience. ...
- Additional information.
In order for paramedics to requisition controlled drugs they must: Register with their local controlled drugs accountable officer (CDOA), this will typically be through the medicines management team at their local clinical commission group / health board / integrated care system.Can anyone call themselves a paramedic? ›
To practice as, and call yourself a paramedic, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). To register with the HCPC, you first need to successfully complete an approved qualification in paramedic science. There are different routes to studying and qualifying as a paramedic.What is the new name for paramedic? ›
Advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT) Paramedic.What are the 4 types of paramedics? ›
- Advanced care paramedic. ...
- Community paramedic. ...
- Critical care paramedic (CCP) ...
- Emergency care assistant. ...
- Emergency medical technician (EMT) ...
- Emergency room technician. ...
- Firefighter paramedic. ...
- Flight paramedic.
What are paramedics also called? ›
Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are the most common type of providers in EMS and are sometimes referred to as EMTs. EMTs learn the essential skills to help in life-threatening situations and many EMTs go on to earn an Advanced EMT certificate or become a Paramedic.What problems do paramedics have? ›
Shift work, extended work days, and resulting fatigue. Periods of intense psychological stress or trauma. Workplace violence and harassment when dealing with hostile patients or at the workplace.Can paramedics intubate? ›
Endotracheal intubation (the insertion of an emergency breathing tube into the trachea) is an important and high-profile procedure performed by paramedics.How long does it take to train as a paramedic? ›
Paramedic science courses usually take between three or four years full time and include a mixture of theory and practical work including placements with the ambulance services.Why is paramedic pay so low? ›
One of the main reasons why paramedics are paid less than other healthcare professionals is the level of education and training required for their job. While paramedics undergo extensive training and certification programs, they typically require less formal education than many other healthcare professionals.Can a nursing degree lead to paramedic? ›
As a registered nurse with emergency room experience, you may consider enrolling in a postgraduate paramedicine programme, which takes around two years to complete. There are also postgraduate combination degrees in nurse paramedicine available, which you can complete right after getting your A-levels.Can nurses intubate? ›
As previously decided by the board, it is within the scope of the RN to perform advanced airway placement, including intubation, in emergency situations.What is better than a paramedic? ›
And while paramedics are trained to work in a field setting with minimal supplies in high-pressure situations, registered nurses manage a patient's follow-up care in a more traditional medical setting.Why you choose to be a doctor not nurse or paramedic? ›
Medicine offers a larger scope for specialisation than nursing. Perhaps you want to have the opportunity to do surgery for example. The education system is also very different. Doctors are formally trained in Medicine and spend more years studying how diseases work and how they are managed.What degree type is the highest nursing? ›
The highest level of nursing education is the doctoral level. Positions that require doctoral nursing degrees include certain types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), as well as leadership positions such as chief nursing officer or director of nursing.
What state has the highest paid paramedics? ›
Some paramedics actually perform surgical procedures as part of their job. Surgical cricothyroidotomies, chest tubes, central catheters, postmortem cesarean sections and field amputations are only some of the surgical skills that many paramedics in the United States are authorized to perform.Why do they call paramedics paramedics? ›
The term paramedic is used to signify personnel who function as extenders of physicians. The prefix para means "along the side of" and medic is taken to mean "physician." A paramedic works as an extender of the physician.Does an ambulance have a doctor? ›
Ambulances are a territory usually staffed by Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) personnel, but yes, in certain emergencies doctors do ride in ambulances.Is a paramedic the same as an emergency medicine physician? ›
A paramedic is a medical professional, usually a member of the emergency medical service, who primarily provides pre-hospital advanced medical and trauma care. An emergency physician is a physician who works at the emergency department of a hospital to care for acutely ill patients.What is the lowest paid paramedic? ›
Paramedics made a median salary of $46,770 in 2021. The best-paid 25% made $58,810 that year, while the lowest-paid 25% made $37,120.Is paramedic degree hard? ›
And the fact that you're having a conscious effort to know that this is going to be a challenging degree. And as long as you work hard, as long as you manage your time well, but also, take into consideration that it's going to be challenging.What pay grade is a paramedic? ›
Salaries are covered by the NHS Agenda for Change pay scales. Paramedic salaries start at Band 5, which ranges from £25,655 to £31,534. You'll move up to Band 6 (£32,306 and £39,027) after two years following a newly qualified paramedic pathway.What are the hardest paramedic skills? ›
The most common hard skill for a paramedic is patients. 16.2% paramedics have this skill on their resume. The second most common hard skill for a paramedic is acls appearing on 7.3% of resumes. The third most common is cpr on 6.9% of resumes.What is the most common call for paramedics? ›
- Traumatic injury. 21.4%
- Abdominal pain / problems. 12.3%
- Respiratory distress. 12.2%
- Chest pain / discomfort. 10.1%
- Behavioral / psychiatric disorder. 7.8%
- Loss of consciousness / fainting. 7.7%
- Altered level of consciousness. 6.9%
- Seizure. 4.7%
Are two paramedics better than one? ›
two paramedics) resulted in improved outcomes. No difference was found in survival to discharge, and return of spontaneous circulation wasn't associated with a greater number of paramedics. A similar paper evaluated two paramedic vs.Do paramedics ever do surgery? ›
Some paramedics actually perform surgical procedures as part of their job. Surgical cricothyroidotomies, chest tubes, central catheters, postmortem cesarean sections and field amputations are only some of the surgical skills that many paramedics in the United States are authorized to perform.Are paramedics higher than nurses? ›
Paramedics are more highly trained than LPNs, however, the 1,200 to 1,800 hours of schooling a paramedic receives is lower than the two to four years it usually takes to become an RN. The paramedic's duties are mainly concerned with delivering emergency care to patients prior to arriving at the hospital.Which is higher position EMT or paramedic? ›
Becoming a paramedic is the highest level of prehospital care and requires much more advanced training than becoming an EMT.What exactly do paramedics do? ›
EMTs and paramedics typically do the following: Respond to 911 calls for emergency medical assistance, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or bandaging a wound. Assess a patient's condition and determine a course of treatment. Provide first-aid treatment or life support care to sick or injured patients.Why do so many paramedics quit? ›
Low wages, a lack of work-life balance and burnout are among factors driving emergency medical services personnel around the country to quit ambulance duty.What do paramedics suffer from? ›
Paramedics face higher levels of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and fatigue. Workers experience higher levels of organisational stress in comparison to other occupations, due to shift work, long hours, repeated exposure to death, difficult interactions, and high levels of responsibility.What is the highest type of paramedic? ›
Advanced care paramedic
Advanced care paramedics oversee a team of senior-level paramedics to treat urgent medical cases. They specialize in caring for trauma patients and those experiencing cardiac arrest. These types of paramedics provide immediate lifesaving treatment.
Critical Care Paramedic: Highest level of specialized care with a focus on acute interfacility transport, air medical response, and infant, child and perinatal care.What are 2 facts about paramedics? ›
Paramedics often provide care as patients are being transported to a hospital or clinic via helicopter or ambulance. They are dispatched by the police after 911 calls. They also must document the care provided and report observations. Unlike EMTs, paramedics can distribute oral and intravenous medication.
What are 3 responsibilities of a paramedic? ›
- driving and staffing ambulances and other emergency vehicles.
- responding to emergency 999 calls.
- assessing patients, providing emergency treatment and making diagnoses.
- monitoring and administering medication, pain relief and intravenous infusions.
- dressing wounds/injuries.