EMT vs. Paramedic: Which One Is Right For You?
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics both serve on the front lines in emergency situations.
When an emergency happens, EMTs and Paramedics perform the life-supporting services until the patients can be admitted into the emergency room for further treatment.
Differences between EMT and Paramedic
What we think of as an EMT generally refers to the EMT-Basic (or EMT-B) certification. This is an entry-level position in the field of emergency medical services. EMTs can administer oxygen, glucose and dextrose, as well as about six more medications (for a total of eight approved medications). But EMTs cannot start an IV lifeline or give shots, except for epinephrine.
An EMT-Paramedic, often just called a Paramedic, can provide more advanced life-supporting care for patients, as well as administer 30-40 medications and start IV lifelines. Paramedics are the highest level in emergency medical services and can provide the most pre-hospital care.
Paramedics undergo more training than EMT-Bs. At HCI, the EMT-B certification requires 250 clock hours. The Paramedic program is 1,112 clock hours. The Paramedic certification is an advanced EMT certification. The length of time it takes to earn the certification might be a consideration for which one is right for you.
Both EMTs and Paramedics must pass the National Registry of Emergency Technician (NREMT) exam and become licensed in their state before they can get jobs on ambulances and in hospitals.
How to Decide
Deciding which one is best for you depends on what you have for career goals. You can always receive more training to upgrade your EMT certification to a Paramedic certification, but perhaps you would prefer to begin in the field as a Paramedic. An EMT does not require as many clock hours or as much training as becoming a Paramedic requires.
Paramedics also have more responsibility. They can administer more medications, perform more advanced life-supporting services, cardiac support for heart attack symptoms, interpret EKG rhythms, and more. In contrast, the EMT can drive the ambulance and only perform basic life support services.
EMTs and Paramedics also have different pay grades based on education and experience. That might also be a consideration for you when choosing whether to become an EMT-B or a Paramedic.
Ultimately, the choice is one that only you can make. Representatives at HCI can give you more information about each program that can help you to make the decision that is right for you.