6 Reasons Why You Should Be a Better EMT

Sure, this site isall about being a better EMT, but perhaps you’ve asked yourself, “Why?” OK, granted, it was probably one of your more cynical moments. Perhaps you had a bad day, a couple of frustrating calls or a less than optimal interaction with a patient, your partner, another agency, your boss … or perhaps all of the above.

Then you went out and threw down your stethoscope. Or maybe you didn’t throw it down because you remembered it was a Littmann and a gift from your aunt, but you raised it over your head and thought about it. And while that stethoscope dangled over your head in your clenched fist you thought, “Why? Why do I work so hard to try to be better at a job that pays so little and offers so little in return?”


We’ve all had these moments. Moments when we contemplated, “Why don’t I just phone it in? The bad EMT’s make the same amount of money as the good ones. I clearly already meet the minimum standard. Nobody’s really pushing me to be any better. Nobody seems to recognize my growth or effort. So why do it?”

When you feel that way come back here and read this. If you feel that way often, print this up and carry it in your pocket.

You should strive to be a better EMT because:

1) Your patient would want you to.

There is a patient out there who is on a collision course with your skills. They don’t know you yet. You’ve never met them either. They have no idea that they are destined to meet you in the future, but the day they do, they will test you. There illness or injury will tax your abilities and call heavily upon all of your skills and experience.

That patient, and many others, want you to be better than you are right now. They need you to be better. If you’re going to show up tomorrow and do this job you owe it to that patient to be as good as you can.

2) It’s the right thing to do.

You may not want to hear this but I’m not big on holding stuff back. Your EMT training was ridiculously simple compared to the responsibilities of your job. The standard EMT curriculum is not adequate to prepare you to manage medical emergencies in the unsupported prehospital environment. Unfortunately, if you’ve done nothing to correct that imbalance, your performance probably reflects that standard.

What should we do when we realize that we entered the field woefully unprepared for the job at hand? We start learning. We recognize that we are at the beginning and we begin the journey of building our knowledge and skills. You and I are both on that journey and it’s our duty to continue until we reach the end. (…of our careers, or our lives, not our learning.)

3) It goes against the grain.

Most won’t aggressively pursue the path of improvement. It’s unfortunate but true. Most EMT’s will attend the minimum C.E. classes, re-certify with the minimum requirements and not seek out any additional training or self study. If they are EMT-Basics they will stay within that knowledge requirement and not venture to far outside. EMT-Paramedics … same story.

But not you. You were born to move against the grain. You’re the one who’s going to push the envelope and refuse to remain static in your knowledge base. If not, you probably wouldn’t have read this far.

4) It’s the way you were made.

Living organisms are either growing or dying. There is no middle ground. Granted, both processes are slow, but you’re engaging in one process or the other. You, like every other living organism, were designed to grow. That is where you’ll feel your most fulfilled. Growth is hard wired in to us.

It is only our desire for safety and comfort and our healthy fear of failure that cause us to run from that desire. Only when you see your own personal growth as essential to your life will you be willing to shrug off that fear of failure, forget about your personal comfort and strike back out in to the world of constant learning and personal improvement.

5) You owe it to your teachers.

Think of all the individuals who have trained you, mentored you and patiently taught you. All of their time, effort, skills, training and experience were given to you as a gift. You owe it to them to take that gift and build upon it.

You have a mandate to develop that gift for the benefit of your patients. And when you’ve accomplished that with success it will be time to turn around and begin teaching it to others as well.

6) You owe it to yourself.

You deserve the satisfaction of knowing that you are good … really good, at what you do. You may be able to pass yourself off as highly competent to others, but only you know for sure if you are walking around with adequate skills and knowledge to do your job well.

When you rest your head on your pillow at night, you owe it to yourself to be your very best. You owe it to yourself to sleep with the peace of mind that you have given all that you are able and you will continue to do so.


Now it’s your turn: What’s your best reason for becoming better at what you do? Do you agree with my six reasons? Why or why not? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.


Related Articles:

Ten Things You Can’t Learn About EMS From Your Computer

Unconventional Thoughts On Emergency Services

Five Things Sports Can Teach You About Being A Good EMT

Beware of Almost Good Enough

Five Rules For One Shift

Are You The Opening Act or The Rockstar?


  1. This post convinced me to go ahead with Emt-I school.

  2. This is an issue we are running into on my service right now on both the fire and ems sides. We have new people who only want to do the bare minimum and not push themselves any harder then they have to and Sr members who think that since they have put in their time they can coast by. In my opinion both attitudes are BS. If you are not willing to do everything you can to make sure you are the best medic you can be, maybe you are in the wrong line of work. I hear McDonalds is hiring.

  3. “There is a patient out there who is on a collision course with your skills. They don’t know you yet. You’ve never met them either. They have no idea that they are destined to meet you in the future, but the day they do, they will test you”

    What a wonderful quote!

    That is getting printed off and put up on my station!

  4. Steve Whitehead says:

    @Medic 322, I’m really glad to hear that brau. Go be awesome.

    @Drew You can’t change everyone else but you can influence them and set the example.Thanks for the contribution.

    @Medic999 Hey Mark thanks. You know i respect and value your opinion. I’m glad this one resonated with you. Thanks for doing that.

  5. I liked your “collision course” quote. How about this one. We have all heard the rant from the seasoned veteran about how “experience” is much more important than academic knowledge on the streets. Well, “experience allows you to make the same critical errors with increasing confidence”. In other words, they don’t know, what they don’t know. Higher learning makes you realise what you don’t know. Food for thought?

  6. Steve, I’m 41 and getting ready to start EMT school in another month. I’ve wanted to be a paramedic since I was a very young girl. (admittedly Johnny and Roy were my first inspiration!) I ended up in another field, school aged child care but now I am going for my dream. I stumbled upon your blog today as I have so many others in a quest to soak up as much as I can from experienced passionate professionals as yourself. I wanted to tell you that this post and all the others I have read on your site are truly inspiring and motivating. They are exactly what I need to keep myself motivated and to beat down the doubt monster. Thanks for what you are doing here. I’ll be back often.

  7. “There is a patient out there who is on a collision course with your skills. They don’t know you yet. You’ve never met them either. They have no idea that they are destined to meet you in the future, but the day they do, they will test you”

    I love that quote as well and it will be placed on my screensaver as a constant reminder, I really enjoy your website!


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