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The everyday challenges EMTs must deal with to be successful

Sailun Tires

For a profession with typically long working hours and low salaries, you will never hear about EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) agencies having a shortage of workers.

In fact, some people might think that the seemingly endless supply of young, eager EMTs is something that fuels these low-paying, long working hours, but it’s quite the opposite.

EMTs are dedicated, intelligent individuals who quickly transition from aspiring newbies to the scourge of the field, punching in and out for a monthly paycheck and procrastinating through the minimum, continuing various education requirements to progress in their area.

While there are various compelling reasons for becoming an EMT, this subfield of healthcare is full of challenges and obstacles.

For starters, they’re the guys who arrive first at an emergency, carrying away the sick and wounded to hospitals.

As demanding as this job is, there are lots of challenges in this field; some of them are highlighted below.

Becoming an EMT is no easy feat. 

Becoming an EMT takes significantly less time than most other jobs in the healthcare industry. For this reason, training to be an EMT is a popular choice for most candidates looking for an entry-level medical career.

However, that doesn’t mean that being an EMT is a walk in the park. Most aspiring candidates will soon realize they’re required to retain and remember many details concerning medical procedures that must be done quickly to save someone’s life.

Therefore, everything you’ll learn in an EMT course will be a necessity, and you’ll be given no rewards for your participation.

But if you take out time to study and pass an online EMT course, you can apply for better positions in your field. 

What’s more, with an online certification facility, you can study and work simultaneously.

Shortage of pharmaceutical supplies. 

EMS providers are constantly dealing with a shortage of EEM (Essential Emergency Medications), such as Epinephrine and Narcan.

As a result, this negatively impacts an EMTs’ ability to respond to natural disasters and public health emergencies.

That said, The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) blames these shortages on manufacturing and quality issues present within the EEM (Essential Emergency Medications) supply chain.

So, to address these EEM shortages, EMS agencies now require distributors and drugmakers to collaborate closely with the FDA, working towards mitigating supply chain issues.

Lack of reimbursements. 

A lack of reimbursement has been an ongoing issue in the EMS for some time now. In fact, as per a JAMA study conducted in 2016, EMS services transported around 14.6 million patients to a hospital.

Not to mention, 15% of those were self-pay, 20% were billed to Medicaid, 31% to private insurers, and 33% to Medicare.

Since Medicare accounts for the bulk load of calls, experts also believe that EMS organizations want to help bring change in the CMS’s reimbursement processes.

That said, the recently-created pilot program from CMS, the ET3 (Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport) Model, might be required.

Through this model, CMS will now pay EMS organizations for transporting patients to an urgent care clinic or doctor’s office.

Around 16% of Medicare fee-for-service emergency ambulance patients could have gone to a doctor’s office. Instead, they took them to the emergency department, which cost them a lot.

So, transporting patients to doctor’s offices instead of a hospital’s emergency department can generate up to $560m in savings every year.

You will have to deal with mental stress and lack of sleep. 

According to research, orthopedic surgeons and EMTs get the least sleep amongst all healthcare professionals

Most of the time, some EMTs will have 24-hour upshifts. Even if they get time to sleep and refuel during the night, emergencies will keep them up during late hours.

Furthermore, the lack of sleep and mental strain of working as EMTs will also frustrate the best of us. After all, an EMT’s job requires individuals to be well-prepared to witness multiple horrific situations, accidents, and emergencies.

In fact, they have to treat patients with gunshot wounds, stab wounds, head injuries, and much more in a day, which proves that being an EMT isn’t for the lighthearted.

You will have less time for your family and friends.  

Handling a ton of paperwork might not be everybody’s cup of tea. But, most EMTs are funded and operated by the local governments, meaning workers will find themselves drowned in paperwork when you’re not out on duty.

You must have understanding friends and family members because you’ll be dealing with a lot of paperwork after the shift ends in this profession.

So, get ready to miss a few anniversaries, birthdays, or dinners because your work will keep you busy most of the time.

Burnout due to the nature of the work 

Burnout is a massive issue for EMTs working everywhere. If EMTs don’t keep themselves mentally and physically fit, they won’t be able to keep up with the mental and physical demands of this profession.

Since you’ll be working for more than 12 hours every day, it will take a toll on your mental and physical health, leading to burnout, and you might end up quitting as an EMT.


If you’re amongst a rare group of individuals willing to work with the challenges mentioned above, you will experience a ton of success working as an EMT.

For everything you’ll have to give up to succeed, it is worth it. Without a doubt, you’ll have to give your 100% and sacrifice a lot, but if you do this, you’ll be revered for every life you save.


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