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Tired of the Stereotypes of Medics and EMTs

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by KeekesRenea KeekesRenea (Member)

Has 3 years experience.

So, as most of you can probably tell by the credentials on the side of my name, I am a paramedic. My overall goal was to become a nurse, and it still is. I am currently finishing up a couple prerequisites and hopefully, I will be accepted into a BSN program by the end of next semester. Here is the issue, though...

One day, I was browsing the web, looking for stories of people who were like me. People who became paramedics first and then went on to become nurses. What I found, however, was a crap load of articles, mainly from nurses, stereotyping the EMS field and limiting the skills of paramedics to nothing more than "ambulance driver". I was appalled. One, because I didn't even think that this was even an actual "thing", and two because I would figure that healthcare providers as a whole would grasp at some point that this whole idea of healthcare is a TEAM effort. There is no licensure more needed than another.

Then, I see more articles on newcomers wanting to explore another option other than CNA. People who were thinking about becoming EMT Basics, prior to their nurse education. A lot of biased nurses there, once again completely bashing the idea of becoming an EMT instead of a CNA. They cared to do no research whatsoever on what an EMT or paramedic does. They used both terms interchangeably, which is a mistake within itself because the scope of practice for both are different. But once again, both are being limited to only "ambulance drivers". Really?

So, just clearing up a few things here and there. EMTs and Paramedics are not just "ambulance drivers". People could easily stereotype nurses as "doctor assistants", I KNOW for a fact that it would very looked down upon. So, why do it to someone else? :banghead:

EMTs typically have to take a semester long program to be EMTs. As does a CNA. However, EMTs take more classes in the semester. CNAs have one course to take.

To be a paramedic now, it takes 1- 2 years, depending on what program you go into, and that's not including prereqs. That's about the same amount of time it takes to be a LPN or an RN on the Associates level. The program I did was a year and a half and I ended up with an Associate's degree. A lot of medic programs are held in colleges now. Not just EMS companies.

Paramedics are skilled in giving medications, EKG interpretations, Cardioversion, Defibrillation, Transcutaneous Pacing, IVs, IOs, Intubations, Needle Decompressions, ect... We do have to know drip rates. EMTs can not do these things, but they are still trained to handle the basic stuff like controlling the bleeding, simple airway management, CPR, simple anaphylaxis management, etc... Until the medics come and take over.

EMTs and Medics can work in the hospital. Usually, they only work in the ED, but it makes sense since they are trained in the emergency medical model. There are a few other places where EMTs and Medics can work. Options seem to open up a little more to paramedics... But all of this being said, EMTs and Medics are not just limited to working on an ambulance. I know this from personal experience, before anyone tries to invalidate this fact.

Another annoying misconception is that EMTs and Paramedics are only limited to one patient a day... This is a very stupid misconception and it proves that people do not know the purpose of EMS. EMTs and Medics are trained for emergencies. When we get on a scene, we do not have the stable environment of the hospital. We have to make due with what we have and what we know. We have to stabilize the scene and ensure scene safety. If an incident occurs when there are multiple people injured or sick, we have to know how to tend to that. Not every case is "we load and go and that's it". It has never been just that.

The bottom line is, EMTs and Medics are around for a reason. And there is a reason why the burnout rate from Medics are higher than the burnout rate from nurses. Not saying at all that nurses do not get burned out... Medics do more than they get credit for and it's unfortunate that this even has to be a topic. All I can say now is, before you go on a biased rampage on how nurses are better than medics and how medics are useless and not skilled in anything except ambulance driving, I insist that you do your research :bookworm: and learn all there is to know about the EMS field, instead of contributing to the load of bs that EMTs and Medics have to deal with from people all the time. :no:

P.S. I apologize if this is in the wrong place. Feel free to move it. I don't know how to change where this gets posted. :blink:

A common reason for job dissatisfaction, IME, is the need for validating one's knowledge, skills and ability. A longing for recognition and an increasing scope of competency goes along with that.

No one likes to be invalidated, but the profession into which you are entering is flush with groups that invalidate others. Surgeons dismiss and invalidate emergency, internal medicine and family practice medicine physicians mercilessly on a regular basis.

Not to say it is in anyway justified, it is what it is in medicine/nursing. Folks need to look past that, be confident and comfortable in their roles and let haters hate.

If that can't be done, job satisfaction will truly be a bridge too far.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

I agree that all healthcare workers contribute value to the health delivery system and deserve the utmost respect for everything they do.

Nonetheless, I will drive myself crazy if I play the one-upmanship game. Many physicians roll their eyes at nurses and see us as undereducated worker bees per the comments on some doctor forums. Do you think I care? I have absolutely nothing to prove to physicians.

I have read EMT/paramedic forum posts that have referred to nurses in certain specialties (e.g. long term care, home health, private duty) as unskilled "attendants." I have also been treated with rudeness by many EMTs/paramedics during my six-year stint in nursing homes. Do you think I care? Nope! I refuse to play the one-upmanship game. My self-esteem does not hinge on the opinions of other colleagues.

The point of my post is that demanding respect and recognition from others in the healthcare industry is a waste of effort. The nursing profession has struggled with validation issues for decades. Nursing keeps shooting itself in the foot in an everlasting quest to obtain validation from those who do not care about us.

The one-upmanship game must stop. Quit seeking validation from other healthcare professionals. Trust me: it is a game that cannot be won. Good luck to you!

KeekesRenea

Has 3 years experience.

I understand what you are saying. I am definitely not dissatisfied with my job, though. I used paramedicine as a stepping stone and I am quite proud of my choice. It just gets annoying with people invalidating medics all the time and a lot of the time, these people speak without doing any research whatsoever. They speak out of brainwashed bias. That's what irritating about that. Medics already have a lot to deal with as far as not being paid what they are worth, dealing with the worse of the worse prehospital, even the politics of EMS is a struggle... The last thing that needs to happen is medics being talked down to because they didn't become nurses like the 3 million + Americans who did.

I understand what you are saying. I am definitely not dissatisfied with my job, though. I used paramedicine as a stepping stone and I am quite proud of my choice. It just gets annoying with people invalidating medics all the time and a lot of the time, these people speak without doing any research whatsoever. They speak out of brainwashed bias. That's what irritating about that. Medics already have a lot to deal with as far as not being paid what they are worth, dealing with the worse of the worse prehospital, even the politics of EMS is a struggle... The last thing that needs to happen is medics being talked down to because they didn't become nurses like the 3 million + Americans who did.

Best of luck

...The point of my post is that demanding respect and recognition from others in the healthcare industry is a waste of effort. The nursing profession has struggled with validation issues for decades. Nursing keeps shooting itself in the foot in an everlasting quest to obtain validation from those who do not care about us.

The one-upmanship game must stop. Quit seeking validation from other healthcare professionals. Trust me: it is a game that cannot be won. Good luck to you!

Well said. In the end it's all about perspective and maturity. Doesn't matter if you're an RN, EMT or accountant.

blondy2061h, MSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology. Has 15 years experience.

A lot of times reading comments online is a good way to find the worst of society shouting the loudest. I highly doubt most nurses feel that way. I suspect most nurses value all members of the healthcare team, even if sometimes we could show it more.

I was an EMT before I was a nurse.

I understand what you are saying. I am definitely not dissatisfied with my job, though. I used paramedicine as a stepping stone and I am quite proud of my choice. It just gets annoying with people invalidating medics all the time and a lot of the time, these people speak without doing any research whatsoever. They speak out of brainwashed bias. That's what irritating about that. Medics already have a lot to deal with as far as not being paid what they are worth, dealing with the worse of the worse prehospital, even the politics of EMS is a struggle... The last thing that needs to happen is medics being talked down to because they didn't become nurses like the 3 million + Americans who did.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent (Eleanor Roosevelt said that, not me).

I've been a stay at home mom for a very long time now, and people have plenty of opinions on that. I'm also a homeschooler, and people have even more opinions about that.

I just don't care though, so it does not irritate me.

Medics already have a lot to deal with as far as not being paid what they are worth, dealing with the worse of the worse prehospital, even the politics of EMS is a struggle... The last thing that needs to happen is medics being talked down to because they didn't become nurses like the 3 million + Americans who did.

Replace the words "medics" and "EMS" in the above sentence with "nurses", "nursing" and "doctors" and you will get a scary look into your future. If it irritates you this much now you will be gob-smacked by how much worse it is for you as a nurse. At least you aren't known as a "glorified butt-wiper".

CelticGoddess, BSN, RN

Specializes in Palliative, Onc, Med-Surg, Home Hospice. Has 6 years experience.

Replace the words "medics" and "EMS" in the above sentence with "nurses", "nursing" and "doctors" and you will get a scary look into your future. If it irritates you this much now you will be gob-smacked by how much worse it is for you as a nurse. At least you aren't known as a "glorified butt-wiper".

One sad thing, I actually had a paramedic call me that when I worked in LTC. Any time I had to send out a patient as an emergency (we used a private ambulance company for non-emergent transfers) I got an attitude from the paramedics and many times was told I didn't know how to do my job, was called a glorified butt wiper and told I made too much for just "giving people their meds".

It really doesn't matter what field you are in, there are stereo-types and some people are just jerks.

FTR: My husband was a paramedic for 18 years.

That Guy, BSN, RN, EMT-B

Specializes in Emergency/Cath Lab. Has 6 years experience.

Oh look....a special snowflake.

Msmedic68w, ASN, MSN, RN

Specializes in psychiatric. Has 6 years experience.

I was a medic in the Army, and then I went to nursing school. Obviously, the military is another animal but when I was a medic I would intubate, push meds and do stuff any paramedic would do. As far as civilian EMT, well to be fair, they do mostly drive the ambulance and assist the paramedic. Not because they arn't clever enough to do more, but because of the laws surrounding being an EMT and what they are allowed to do, however your state may be different. I have nothing but respect for EMS, in fact to be a firefighter, it now basically a prerequisite to be a paramedic now because their knowledge and skill set is vital. I would question what kind of nurses these were in the article, my guess would probably be ER nurses, only because they deal with it every day. But if I were in cardiac arrest, I'd rather have a paramedic by my side then a psych nurse (Which I am, so hold your fire) or some other kind of nurse that doesn't deal with that every day....Like a nurse case manager or what have you.

I am very sorry that you've experienced this.

Paramedics and EMTs are invaluable to the community and healthcare as a whole. You have made excellent points about the misconceptions surrounding paramedics and EMTs. Likewise, I'm disappointed about some of the responses here. As nurses, we do experience similar criticism from other disciplines. That is why I believe we should be mindful of the way we treat paramedics, EMTs, and others.

It sucks to be de-valued! After all, it's not like you see paramedics parading around a disaster scene demanding any kind of glorification.They are many times the first on scene, often un-thanked, and easily forgotten by those who do not understand their role. I hope that this has not changed your mind about nursing because I know many EMTs who became nurses and they are incredible.

It is true that you will experience the same attitude as a nurse, but your willingness to speak out and correct those that fail to value all team members is admirable and necessary. Best of luck on your nursing school application!

SummitRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU + Infection Prevention. Has 9 years experience.

Wow OP. Chill out. Nobody has ever discussed this before. Ever.

There certainly aren't any other EMTs and Paramedics here who became RNs. Some of us still practice.

EMS is not "just ambulance drivers." That attitude stinks. Same goes for when EMS folks can't tell a RN from a CNA and rip on "those nurses at the assisted living center who only wipe poop and can't start an IV" (as if keeping a patient clean and dignified was somehow beneath EMS).

Commenting briefly on the rest of your rant, in most cases, the US Paramedic certification process is not comparable to an ADN RN pipeline. Paramedic is most commonly a 9-12 month vocational certification program with far less competitive entry and far fewer prereqs. Only a small minority of medics enter practice with even an AAS degree in the field.

This is precisely why, as you complain, "medics aren't paid." EMS education and entry standards are lower than almost any other field in healthcare, thus there are many eager and qualified applicants for any position.

There is only one solution for that: working to raise EMS standards. Pissing contests about skills aren't going to win respect from anyone outside of EMS.

EMS is very short-term oriented and very skills focused. You will find is that Nursing is far more knowledge oriented, collaborative, and big picture focused (some like feel good words like "holistic"). Thus waving a skill like intubation around doesn't impress RNs all that much.

There are many medics I respect greatly. But their list of skills aren't what earns my respect. It is their dedication to good patient care, knowledge, knowing when to not do (and to do) interventions, their commitment to evidence based practice, and their desire to progress EMS.

Congrats on using EMS as a stepping stone. Will be interesting for you to reflect on this post after you become a RN.

Edited by SummitRN

emmy27

Specializes in ER, Med-surg.

I was a medic in the Army, and then I went to nursing school. Obviously, the military is another animal but when I was a medic I would intubate, push meds and do stuff any paramedic would do. As far as civilian EMT, well to be fair, they do mostly drive the ambulance and assist the paramedic. Not because they arn't clever enough to do more, but because of the laws surrounding being an EMT and what they are allowed to do, however your state may be different. I have nothing but respect for EMS, in fact to be a firefighter, it now basically a prerequisite to be a paramedic now because their knowledge and skill set is vital. I would question what kind of nurses these were in the article, my guess would probably be ER nurses, only because they deal with it every day. But if I were in cardiac arrest, I'd rather have a paramedic by my side then a psych nurse (Which I am, so hold your fire) or some other kind of nurse that doesn't deal with that every day....Like a nurse case manager or what have you.

I very much doubt it was ER nurses ragging on EMTs and paramedics- we work directly with them every day, and many EDs employ medics as staff (sometimes as techs, sometimes to work within their full scope). Many ED nurses also started out as medics, and life being what it is, many are dating/married to medics.

Which is not to say there's never any conflict between ED and prehospital staff (any time you have one group handing off patients to another, there's going to be occasional disagreements) but we have a very clear picture of what medics do, and what the difference is between a patient who received good prehospital care, bad prehospital care, and no prehospital care.

Ugh.

My step son is an EMT. He came home and told me about a call they had made to an assisted living facility. He chuckled and asked me, "Uh... do they teach nurses about blood pressures?"

I was immediately irritated because I knew what was coming. I said, "Of course!"

"Well... how much detail do they go into it? I mean, do they just show you how to do it on a machine or--"

I cut him off and explained what nurses are, indeed, taught. I then asked him what the hell happened that he would even ask and why he was so haughtily amused.

"Well, there was this nurse there. She told us the patient's blood pressure was 'usually a higher number on the bottom', so we're thinking either that was a stupid nurse or they don't teach nurses anything."

"That was not a nurse. It was probably an aide... wait... no... not even an aide. If it was assisted living, it was probably not so much as an aide. No training. You weren't talking to a nurse. There is no way! Now you go back and tell all your friends what I said and preserve the dignity of nurses everywhere!" :sniff:

So, no. The EMT's don't always know a nurse from an aide from a person hired off the street. If he hadn't asked me, he would have really (and stupidly) thought nurses were the dumbest things ever.

Edited by Hygiene Queen
spelling

quazar

Has 20 years experience.

Sorry you have experienced disparaging remarks/attitudes. I can firmly say that in almost 20 years in nursing, I have never met another nurse who holds the attitudes you describe towards EMTs and Paramedics. I have nothing but respect for first responders, especially since they are the ones who arrive on the scene before the body parts have been picked up and before things have been put back together again. I cannot even imagine. Knowing that you do that, period, is enough for me to hold you in high regard.

Yes, it mildly annoys me when the EMTs and Paramedics and ER staff bring up a pregnant woman like she's a grenade with the pin pulled, but that's about it. That's pretty much standard operating procedure for anyone who doesn't work L&D, though, and I'm used to it. We know when a woman comes into the ER huffing and puffing or a woman who swears she's crowning calls the ambulance (but is really long, thick and closed) that she will be brought to the unit at the speed of light. I expect nothing less, though, because you really never know. ;) L&D nurses freak out about chest pain. *shrug* Everybody has their weak spots.

At any rate, I agree with the PP about not relying on external validation from your peers, because there's always going to be somebody who talks down to you and assumes you're an idiot no matter what degree you hold or letters are after your name. It happens. Let it roll off your back and go on your merry way.

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