If you think about a career in the emergency field, maybe you’ve considered applying to a course or program to get a certification. EMT comes from the emergency medical technician, and it has a wide area of activities, such as medical assistance, medical emergencies or traumatic injuries.
Suppose you already have some basic knowledge about human anatomy and physiology you can apply to a program without fear, but if you are from another field of study, the medical terminology could be challenging. Remember that to get to the level of helping people with injuries, you must know first how the human body works. But don’t be discouraged! It’s all part of the process.
Levels of certification
If you’re not decided what course to enrol in, don’t worry; many opportunities await you. If you don’t want to work yet, you can become a volunteer; you are not pressed to perform well, and you’ll learn and act at a slower pace. Your typical day as a volunteer can include 911 calls for emergency medical assistance, first-aid treatment, determining a patient’s condition, reporting observations, etc.
But if you are sure about your career path, there are four levels of certification; starting from the least challenging to the most difficult one, you can choose from:
EMR (Emergency Medical Responder)
Your goal in the EMR field is to save lives with primary interventions and equipment. You will usually go from one place to another because emergencies happen everywhere, all the time, and you’ll be assisted by a higher-level crew in case something else occurs. This certification comes with few responsibilities, such as:
- Interventions of airway and breathing (ventilation, pressure, oxygen therapy)
- Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
- Pharmacological interventions
- Cardiac care (defibrillator)
- Trauma care (injuries, bleeding, fractures)
As a future EMR, the areas of study you must be familiar with are respiratory, cardiology, resuscitation, trauma, obstetrics and gynaecology and some EMS operations (emergency medical services). It takes about one month to complete the introductory course; then, you can apply for jobs in your area.
EMT (Emergency Medical Technician)
If you want to go higher, you can upgrade your status with an EMT certification, which has almost the same responsibilities, but more focus on medical transportation in emergency situations. You should be able to do all the things an EMR is capable of, with limited decision-making situations, when you can administer basic medication, like aspirin or glucose. An EMT training will provide knowledge in:
- Patient assessment
- CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
- Haemorrhage control
- Emergency childbirth
This course can take up to 11 weeks to complete, but it could be less if you just passed the previous exams for the EMR position.
AEMT (Advanced Emergency Medical Technician)
Do you want to work more inside the ambulance with the advanced equipment? Then an AEMT job would be the perfect choice for you. Most of the time, you will perform outside the hospital, and be the highest-level staff in the ambulance. All the other responsibilities listed above can also be yours, but you’ll also perform:
- Intravenous interventions
- Epinephrine administration
- Pain relief administration
You’ll have to complete another 350 hours of instruction for this position to be officially certified as an AEMT. The knowledge level increases as you want to perform more complicated interventions.
Is the highest level of responsibility your final goal? Then it would be best if you considered a job as a paramedic. You need to have around two years of training for this program, plus work in a hospital and complete an internship. To get here, you’ll first need to get through all the other certifications because now you should be able to perform more advanced medical interventions, such as:
- Infusion administrations
- Medical administration of more advanced medications
Besides these technical skills, you must have some soft skills, such as:
- Leadership, for having the highest level of competency;
- Teamwork, because you’ll work with the other staff from the EMR, EMT, AEMT;
- Problem-solving skills, because every patient has a different problem, will be like a puzzle that you’ll have to solve rapidly.
Opportunities for the future
The interesting thing about the medical field is that you can always go up the hierarchy by studying more; this is why training courses are accessible. If your dream is to become a doctor, but you’re not sure about it, you can take small steps towards your dream job, and apply for some training to see if you can cope with emergencies, stressed and scared people or situations when you have to be quick and precise.
After you get the certifications, you can get licensure. The difference between them is that a certification will prove that you can provide medical care; meanwhile, the licence allows you to act without additional personnel next to you. From there, it’s easier to become a certified doctor in whatever field you’d like.
Why choose a career in the medical field?
It is honourable to want to help people in need. You’ll always find something new and exciting about the human body; because everyone is unique, and the medical field is one of those where there are always new things to discover. You will always be needed somewhere, for someone.
You can choose these specialisations if you were always interested in performing CPR or know what the codes from a hospital are (you’ve heard about code blue; that means there’s a life-threatening emergency a patient experiences). Maybe you’re watching some medical based series, like Grey’s Anatomy, and the hospital life fascinates you with the whole adrenaline rush and the number of unexpected situations. Or you’d like to reform the emergency department in your city and you think you’re the perfect leader for that. Whatever your reason is, you should give it a try. Find the path to the career that suits you the most.
You should complete every step to get to the highest level, so you need a lot of patience and motivation to keep going. You will feel fulfilled professionally and learn many valuable things while empathising with people around you.
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