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How to Become an EMT

Being an EMT will help a pre-med stand out among a competitive group of applicants. As an EMT, you will be making medical decisions that can determine a person’s fate; this priceless experience is well respected by admissions committees.

Every year, a small percentage of pre-med students will obtain jobs as an EMT. The reason is quite simple; working as an EMT is an amazing extracurricular activity that will help them stand out among a competitive group of pre-meds. As an EMT, one will be working directly with patients with little or no supervision. For an undergraduate student, that experience is incomparable.

If it is so great, then why doesn’t everyone do it? Unfortunately, the great experience comes at a cost. Unlike most other pre-med jobs and opportunities, one needs to be trained and licensed to be an EMT. Many pre-meds consider being an EMT, but opt out of it due to the time commitment it requires. They would much rather spend most of their time investing in their academic marks, than train to become an EMT. It makes sense because after all, a high GPA and MCAT score is the most important factor in getting into medical school. But for those with incredible time management skills, becoming an EMT might provide an extra boost in a medical school application. Every student needs to ask the question, is EMT worth it?

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to become an EMT. Each pre-med student is responsible for determining whether an EMT is a good option for them.

Note: There are three different levels of EMTs: EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, and EMT-Paramedic. If you are pursuing EMT as a stepping stone into medical school, you will most likely become an EMT-Basic. The other two levels require a significantly heavier time commitment. It will be almost impossible for a traditional medical school applicant to have been an EMT-Intermediate or EMT-Paramedic. Therefore, the steps listed below are just for EMT-Basic.

Step 1: Obtain a CPR Certificate.

A CPR certificate is typically a prerequisite to enrolling in an EMT Certificate Program. To become a fully licensed EMT, one must have the CPR certificate.

Step 2: Graduate from an EMT Certificate Program.

Having a degree or graduating from college is not a prerequisite to being an EMT. However, every prospective EMT must complete an EMT Certificate Program. An EMT Certificate Program is usually about 100 hours in length, though it can slightly vary between states. Community colleges, hospitals, fire academies, and universities are institutions where the program is typically offered. Every program must meet the requirements of the EMT-Basic National Standard Curriculum. In every program, students will be trained to respond to medical emergencies of all kinds. You will most likely need to have a high school diploma (or the equivalent) and be 18 years or older to enroll.

Step 3: Become certified by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).

After completing an EMT Certificate Program, an aspiring EMT must take a national examination administered by the NREMT. The national examination has both a practical and a written part. By passing this test and completing an EMT Certificate Program, one is eligible to be licensed by the NREMT. However, being certified by the NREMT does not yet qualify one for a job as an EMT. In the US, every EMT must be licensed by the state in which he or she desires to work.

Step 4: Become licensed by the respective state.

After becoming certified by the NREMT, one must now be licensed by the state. Requirements for state licensure vary among different states. In some states, a NREMT certification qualifies one for state licensure. In other states, aspiring EMTs must take another licensing exam, this time administered by the corresponding state. Furthermore, each state can determine licensure eligibility based on other factors such as criminal history.

Step 5: Obtain a job as an EMT.

After becoming licensed by the state, one is now fully licensed as an EMT and can look for work. An EMT can choose to work either for a public or private company. After getting hired, expect to receive more on-the-job training by the respective company.

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