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Experience on the Fly

Dear Paul,

I have read your articles for years and have always found them to be insightful and well thought out. I’ve been an EMT for several years and just recently graduated with my paramedic credential. Here I am a nationally registered medic with ACLS, and I can’t get a job!

I’m applying to medic “fly car” jobs, which are the only available jobs in my area. These medics work by themselves and are aided on the scene by volunteer providers. The guys who run the systems insist that only “experienced” medics are eligible for these jobs. As a program director, do you agree with this approach? My opinion is that I have the same medic credential as these experienced guys and deserve the same job.

I’m looking forward to hearing your opinion.

Kind regards,

Randall P., NREMT-P

Hi Randall,

Thanks for the kind words about my writing. I always appreciate hearing from readers. However, I’ll warn you in advance that you won’t be happy with my answer to your question.

It’s my belief that most newly minted paramedics don’t belong on fly cars without close supervision. Any program director who’s honest with you will tell you that new graduates have minimum competency and need to be closely mentored for some length of time before they can work without a net.

This is the way of the world in most jobs, for example electricians and airline pilots. These career fields have called this an apprenticeship and to be honest, if it’s to be required in building trades and crafts, we certainly need to embrace it in EMS. However, the argument can be made that all levels of EMS providers need to go through this, not just medics.

One other thing to consider is that years ago applicants to paramedic programs often had several years’ experience as a BLS provider. In recent years we’ve noticed our applicants are younger and, by definition, have less life experience in addition to less EMS experience.

EMS educators need to mentor our students, and our graduates, even more now than ever before. I suggest that seeing experience as a requirement for fly car medics is a sign of a good organization assuring its patients receive the best possible care.

Till next time,

PAW