Medical Assistants in Emergency Medicine: Consider an Emergency Medical Technician License
Urgent care centers and emergency rooms across the country hire medical assistants to assist with patient care. The fast paced, ever-changing, unpredictable environment of an ER or urgent care makes this area of medicine exciting and challenging. If you’re currently working as a medical assistant or patient care technician in emergency medicine, you know how important it is to be knowledgeable and prepared. Emergency medical technicians (EMT) are specially trained pre-hospital providers with a specific skill set in emergency medicine. Earning dual medical assistant and EMT certification can be highly beneficial if you currently work, or are considering working, in an emergency department.
Why it’s Beneficial
You likely learned about emergency medical procedures during medical assisting school. However, what you learned may have been brief and not sufficient for working in an emergency department. If you’re working in the emergency room or urgent care, you’re likely to assist a patient who is seriously ill or injured. The more prepared you are to handle emergencies, the better. Emergency Medical Technician training prepares you for properly stabilizing injured and ill patients, providing correct treatment and assisting higher-level medical professionals, like physicians and nurses, with patient treatment. Overall, your skill set is more valuable to your patient and other emergency department staff.
As a medical assistant with EMT credentials, you’ll be better prepared to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, stabilize a patient’s cervical spine, manage a patient’s airway and stabilize critical patients; all of these things commonly occur in an emergency center. Emotionally, you may feel better prepared to handle emergencies because you have the training to back it up. Without proper emergency medical training, you may feel overtly stressed or anxious in assisting with an emergency.
What You’ll Learn
Training and skill for EMTs vary by state. However, most programs offer similar EMT-Basic curriculum and instruction. You’ll learn the foundations of how to care for someone in an emergency including trauma, medical emergencies like low blood sugar, bleeding and childbirth, and some medication administration. All good Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) skills begin with learning how to properly assess a patient. You’ll learn to examine patients using physical exam techniques and communication skills and how to rationale patient treatment based on exam findings. Exam skills include assessing lung sounds and vital signs, inspecting for internal injuries or abnormalities, palpating for broken bones, assessing signs of stroke and heart attack and more.
Treatment for trauma patients includes learning to treat immediate threats to a patient’s life, such as bleeding or an airway problem. You’ll learn how to stabilize a trauma patient, splint broken bones and properly move a patient who has been seriously injured. Training for medical emergencies includes recognizing common illnesses and diseases and providing appropriate treatment.
Depending on your state, you may be allowed to give medications. Oxygen, epinephrine, baby aspirin and glucose are commonly allowed at the EMT-Basic level.
How to Get It
Earning your EMT-Basic license is a rigorous process, but not much worse than completing a thorough medical assisting degree. Most community colleges offer the EMT program. In some cases, classes can be taken at night or on weekends to accommodate working adults. Class length and requirements vary by state. Once you’ve successfully completed the EMT class, you’ll be eligible to sit for the NREMT exam, which registers EMTs across the country. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians is the standard certifying board for EMTs and is often required to practice as an EMT. Simply completing your college coursework isn’t enough to earn you this certification. You must take and pass both the written and clinical portions of the NREMT exam to earn NREMT credentials. The college you choose for your EMT training will provide you with information on taking the NREMT and help you prepare for this intensive test. Once completed, you’ll be able to add NREMT EMT-B credentials to your professional title.