Bob Sullivan at EMS Patient Perspective posted on one of my favorite topics today; brain drain in EMS. What happens to great paramedics who get bored doing “vitals, oxygen, monitor, IV, transport” to the Nth degree for a few years? They leave EMS!
If you haven’t read the original post, go check out ”For EMS’ers, Is PA School Just the Next Thing to Do?” Leave a comment or “Recommend” the post, then hurry on back here. I’ll leave the light on for you.
Already back? Good!
First, I agree that PA is a great goal for EMS providers, but it might be a pipe dream for the average paramedic with 5 years of street experience at McAmbulance. Here’s where I see obstacles for most:
1. Many will get tripped-up with the PA school entrance requirement of having a 4-year degree. It’s a damn costly endeavor. I’m still paying off mine, and will be for a while. Few McAmbulance operations are giving tuition reimbursement for employees to pursue a degree beyond the Associate’s degree they probably already earned with their paramedic courses.
2. Even if your employer pays for your 4-year degree, it will be a benefit to full-time employment only. Ever try keeping your full-time job, family, and personal health together for several years while maintaining an “A” or “B” in Organic Chemistry and a handful of other prerequisite courses? It’s something I’ve seen done, but only by a few high performers. And I mean truly gifted people.
All that being said…
Going from paramedic to PA is entirely possible.
I’ve watched others do it.
They are very happy now.
You can do it, but it will be very challenging.
Here are a few tips.
Second, there’s a bigger issue that needs to be addressed here. That issue is our collective lack of career development. As Skip Kirkwood so often points out in his writing, our law enforcement and fire/rescue peers have a dozen different career paths to take within their departments. Since 2008, he’s been preaching that we need to develop career breadth for medics whose aspirations may not involve supervision.
Too many talented people leave EMS because we give them a job (something to do for a while) but fail to offer them a profession (something to pursue for decades). As Bob Sullivan suggests, maybe they leave to become PA’s. Perhaps they depart to become RN’s or MD’s. Regardless, they’re leaving and we need to address that.