Opportunity to be a paramedic; is it worth it?

Hello all!

So I recently have received the opportunity for a full ride to paramedic school (EMT-P). It is a 12 month accelerated program, from basically September to December 2022. I love everything I am learning in EMT-B right now, I love emergency medicine and I think it is also what I want to pursue. There is a 1year full time work contract requirement with the agency post paramedic school (since they are paying for the education), which would be during my junior year at Kalamazoo College. They are flexible with college students, but there is still a full time req. I really have found a lot of passion in EMS.
I would not be doing it just for clinical experience because I thoroughly enjoy it, but I do still want to make sure getting my paramedic wouldn’t be a bad idea.
I still plan on shadowing as much as I can, and I volunteer as a sexual assault responder at my local YWCA. Although it isn’t a huge time requirement, I plan on doing that during my years of college and during my gap year, because I love it there too.

What do you think? Should I stay an EMT-B for the clinical exposure and limited time requirement, or should I go for it?

@WayOutWestMom @MYOS1634 You may be able to enlighten me here!

A free EMT-P sounds like a terrific opportunity.

But I have a question first–
Will paramedic coursework and the required practical training prevent you from taking your college classes? IOW, will you need to pause your college coursework while you earn the EMT-P?

IIRC, paramedic school is very intense (esp if you’re doing a compressed course since normally a EMT-P takes 2 years) and a full time commitment all by itself. I don’t see how you could complete paramedic training AND carry a full course load at college.

But, if you enjoy the work and are willing to postpone your med school application cycle for a year or two, I don’t see any reason not to to take the opportunity.

I would be cautious, though, about trying to work full time (which I interpret to mean a 36-40 hour work week) while simultaneously trying to take a full course load. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

Having your paramedic certification means you have a viable Plan B should you not gain an admission to med school Or if you want to work for a year or two before applying… (An EMT-P + college degree means there are opportunities to go into disaster response planning and emergency services administration.)

Just a Word of Advice-- Don’t set your heart on any particular specialty before you even get into med school.

The job market in emergency medicine right now is terrible. There are too many EM docs and just not enough jobs. Not only there are very few positions available in major metro areas, but even jobs in the boonies are increasingly hard to come by. Additionally, the glut of EM doc means salaries are dropping–in some cases dramatically. (Think a $100K/year decrease) Many new EM grads are finding themselves stuck working in urgent care doc-in-a-box shops right now. With more new EM residencies opening every year and no real prospects for job growth, EM is one hurting field right now. As bad or worse than Radiation Oncology.

Thank you for your response!

So I would not pause my college coursework. The paramedic course meets in person on Tuesdays, and then the rest is done online (same format as my EMT course). The instructor is also the same one and works with us around our schedules. The 700hrs of practical training/internship happens after the 12 months of education, and they are apparently super flexible.

I was definitely planing on one or two gap years post grad so I would not be stressing the MCAT either during my full time work commitment. I am also not studying abroad which definitely helps.

Thank you for the information about EM… I had read an article during the early times of covid on that, and how the market for EM docs was just crashing while the demand for EM nurses was rising. This is really sad to hear however… I will say though, I have definitely left behind the mindset of wanting a specific field, but I do think I am very good at emergency management and I love it.

Thank you for all the advice and information!

Some reading about the EM job market. It’s more than just Covid-19 upsetting the market.

https://journals.lww.com/em-news/fulltext/2021/04000/after_the_match__has_the_supply_of_eps_exceeded.3.aspx

https://www.annemergmed.com/article/S0196-0644(21)00193-1/fulltext

tl:dr–three main factors

  1. overproduction of EM trained physicians (33% increase in the number of EM residencies in the last 5 years, with 5+ new EM residency programs opening every year)
  2. increased use of mid-level providers in the ED
  3. explosive increase in for-profit corporate medical groups providing EM services to hospitals These groups hire EM physicians as independent contractors, treat them as interchangeable commodities, and offer zero benefits.

Honestly if you want to work in the ED, EMT-P, NP or PA offer a much better opportunity. Fewer years of training required and costs much less than med school.

That is so sad to read.
I think I just really want to work with high acuity patients. I think I am going to try to shadow as many providers in different specialties as I can this year, including PAs and see what I am attracted to.
Thank you for everything!

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Thank you for relaying the info on EM, @WayOutWestMom. It could be very useful for future medical hopefuls to realize. I’m thankful my guy chose a different specialty as it was one he was considering due to liking the “puzzle solving” aspect of it. He ended up heading elsewhere due to not being able to follow up with and keep a relationship with patients.

I feel for those currently having to deal with it all. Doctors don’t need more stress in their lives, esp those on front lines.

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I think it’s super important for HS kids to realize that you don’t go in choosing a specialty-- you become a doctor. Then you specialize. We see kids on CC posting “I want to become an anesthesiologist- what college is best for that?”

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Definitely. I’d be happy anywhere, I know why I want to go in healthcare and it definitely goes beyond a specialty!
It is definitely good to know for EM, but also sad. Like Creekland said, doctors do not need more stress.

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EMT b is very basic, kids in high school can complete it. Paramedic is much more intense. I too would highly caution against doing full-time paramedic whole doing full time other college.

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Specialties go in and out of popularity all the time. There are all sorts of “turf wars” going on between specialties that those not in medicine never hear about. Interventional radiology vs. cardiology for cardiac catheterization after a heart attack. Neurosurgery vs orthopedic surgery for spine surgery. Gyn onc vs general oncology for breast cancer treatment. There’s even some very serious discussions going on at a national level about dividing OB/GYN into 2 or 3 separate and distinct specialties. (

And more and more duties are being handed over to mid-level providers: CNRAs and CAAs handle many surgical cases that anesthesiologists used to. Many routine, uncomplicated pregnancies are overseen by nurse-midwives, not OBs. Canada is experimenting with using a specially trained surgical PA to do routine hip replacements instead of an orthopedic surgeon. And AI is making serious progress in reading x-rays–in some case more accurately than a trained radiology.

Medical specialties aren’t static; they change all the time as medical knowledge and procedures advance.

And the job market for physicians changes over time too. Right now there are too many emergency medicine physicians, too many pathologists, and too many radiation oncologists. But a few years ago, these specialties were in huge demand. Today the specialties in greatest demand are family medicine, internal medicine, psychiatry, radiology, OB/GYN and hospitalist. But 5 years from now? Who knows?

And I agree with @blossom individuals cannot go into medicine with the mentality of “anesthesia (or ortho or derm or psych) or bust”. First you need to want to be a physician, THEN you figure out what kind.

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Being an emt opens a lot of jobs on weekends, summer special events, etc that are great for college kids. My brother is an EMT and is always asked to work bike races and county fairs and things like that. It’s not his main job (construction in the summer, ski patrol in the winter) but a good gig if he needs extra money. His kids (age 15) are doing the junior program so they can work these events too.

If your program requires a year to repay the training, you might have to put off school for a year but it would be worth it to have good paying, flexible jobs as a student.

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