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5 ways to enhance your EMS career prospects

Get your name out there by creating content for EMS publications and websites


Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS

This is the continuation of my response to a reader that asked for advice on finding a new employer. In part 1 of this series, I discussed assessing your desires for employment, researching departments and building your network. Consider the following as you move forward in your new employment search.

1. Add to your credentials

At a minimum, I believe paramedics need an associate’s degree. If you don’t have one, get started as soon as possible. A bachelor’s degree may give you the little something extra to nudge out another candidate for a desirable position.

Earn additional certifications, above and beyond what your current and future employers might require. If you already have all the certificates, become an instructor or adjunct faculty. Having a broad set of skills, from field provider to educator, will increase the possible positions you are eligible to fill.

If you have an NREMT certification, don’t let it lapse, as it might help you attain licensure in a new state faster. If you have let your NREMT lapse, consider re-testing.

2. Create content

Get your name out there by creating content for EMS publications and websites. Review submission guidelines and pitch ideas for short articles and reviews that are suitable for the web. Reviews of products, books, apps, events and courses, and how-to articles are ideal for web publishers. Once you have a good recipe for writing reviews, books for example, you can read new books and submit reviews regularly.

3. Pick a niche in EMS and go deep

Most paramedics know a little about a lot. Pick a niche in EMS and learn as much as you can about that aspect of paramedicine. Do you want to be the EKG guy? Or the peds gal that everyone talks to after a tough peds call? Could you be the heart failure expert the service director turns to when it is time to rewrite protocols? You don’t have to limit yourself to going deep on a clinical niche. You could become an EMS IT, finance or marketing expert. Pick an area and learn all you can in that niche. Aim for mastery and credentialing of your expertise with certificates, degrees and publications.

4. Get your fiscal fitness and physical fitness in order

It is hard to move if you have a lot of debt. Finding an apartment in a new city will be a challenge if you have a dismal credit report. While you begin your search for a new employer, minimize new debt and pay down existing debt. Live well below your means in the six to 12 months before a move. Save as much as you can for moving expenses, which can add up fast, and for an emergency fund.

Are you physically ready for physical capability testing that an employer might require during the application process? Current employees or application materials should be able to explain the physical testing process. Specifically prepare for these exercises, but also generally work to improve your health and fitness. Weight loss, increased strength and greater endurance can also do wonders for your self-confidence. Strive to begin the interview process at peak physical and mental condition.

5. Getting from now to then

The only easy part about my advice is offering it. Doing the work will be hard, but it is possible. There will never be a perfect time to find a new job or employer. Start with the end in mind – where do you want to go and what do you want to do there? Between now and then, do at least three things every day to help you get there.

This article, originally published on June 4, 2013, has been updated.

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1 and EMS1. Greg served as the EMS1 editor-in-chief for five years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, national registry paramedic since 2005, and a long-distance runner. Greg was a 2010 recipient of the EMS 10 Award for innovation. He is also a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and the 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Connect with Greg on LinkedIn.