Rogue Community College
Rogue Community College
Phone Search Menu Search

EMT or Paramedic?

Becoming a paramedic requires more training than becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT). Many EMS professionals start out as EMTs while they continue their education to become Paramedics. In general, paramedics are in greater demand in the region than EMTs, although job openings are available for both positions. Which job is right for you?

EMT Job Description and Characteristics

An EMT functions as a primary care provider in the pre-hospital setting. The EMT is responsible for all aspects of care provided to the sick and injured. The EMT provides basic life support, including patient assessment, airway management, use of the automatic defibrillator and assisting patients with taking some of their own medications. The EMT is responsible for driving the ambulance in a safe manner under all conditions. The EMT must have a thorough knowledge of the street, highway and addressing system in which he or she will be working. In organizations that provide advanced patient care, the EMT will work under the direction of a Paramedic and assume a support role. The EMT must understand all applicable legal, moral and ethical issues surrounding emergency medical service. The EMT must be dedicated to continued learning through continuing education and maintenance of licensures and certifications.

The EMT must be confident and accept the challenge and high degree of responsibility entailed in this position. The EMT must have excellent judgment, be able to prioritize decisions and act quickly in the best interest of the patient. The EMT must be able to function at an optimum level in a non-structured environment that is constantly changing. The EMT must be able to remain calm while working in difficult and stressful situations, and stay focused while carrying out the functions of the position. Good judgment is essential, along with knowledge and technical skills. The EMT must possess excellent verbal communication skills and be capable of adapting to situations with violence and emotional instability in multicultural settings. The EMT must possess critical reasoning skills and be capable of applying them effectively in stressful situations. Self motivation is essential.

Paramedic Job Description and Characteristics

A paramedic functions as the most extensively trained primary care provider in the pre-hospital setting. The paramedic is responsible for all aspects of care provided to the sick and injured. The paramedic provides both basic and advanced life support, including comprehensive patient assessment, invasive airway management, cardiac monitoring and administration of medications. The paramedic is frequently in a leadership role working with a small team of lesser-trained prehospital care providers. The paramedic is responsible for verbal communication with the patient, other prehospital providers and hospital personnel, including physician medical directors. The paramedic completes extensive written documentation on patient condition and treatment provided, and must understand all applicable legal, moral and ethical issues surrounding emergency medical service. The paramedic must be dedicated to continued learning through continuing education and maintenance of licensures and certifications.

The paramedic must be a confident leader who can accept the challenge and high degree of responsibility entailed in this position. The paramedic must have excellent judgment, be able to prioritize decisions and act quickly in the best interest of the patient. The paramedic must be able to function independently at an optimum level in a non-structured environment that is constantly changing. The paramedic must be able to remain calm while working in difficult and stressful situations, and stay focused while assuming the leadership role inherent in carrying out the functions of the position. Good judgment is essential in directing other team members to assist as needed, along with advanced knowledge, technical skills. The paramedic must possess excellent verbal communication skills and be capable of adapting to situations with violence and emotional instability in multicultural settings. The paramedic must possess critical reasoning and math skills and be capable of applying them effectively in stressful situations. Self motivation is essential. 

More about the different EMS levels