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Pinnacle 2023 Quick Take: Gen Z insights – hiring and getting the job

A gameshow style session interviewing prospective EMS employers provided insights into EMS success and intergenerational relationships


At Pinnacle 2023, Samantha Katterman, operations supervisor for ARM, facilitated a gameshow style discussion in which a disguised panel of EMS leaders representing the generations in the workforce were interviewed by two prospective employers representing Gen Z and Baby Boomer applicants.

Photo/Kerri Hatt

SAN ANTONIO — Recruitment and retention woes are nearly universal in EMS. Respondents to the EMS Trend Report Survey have ranked these staffing challenges amongst the top three concerns in EMS for years. The 2023 EMS Trend Survey identified 95-96% of agencies are facing some degree of difficulty with recruitment and retention respectively.

One of the biggest challenges to recruiting new employees is connecting with what they’re looking for in a position, as values and the nature of the job change over time.

In a different take on exploring generational differences at Pinnacle 2023, Samantha Katterman, operations supervisor for American Medical Response, facilitated a gameshow style discussion in which a disguised panel of EMS leaders representing the generations in the workforce were interviewed by two prospective employers representing Gen Z and Baby Boomer applicants.

Memorable quotes

“We don’t have a specific role that we have to fill based on when we were born.”

“To move forward in an organization, you need to evolve.”

“Work ethic and commitment are completely independent of the generation they were born in.”

“The key to successful organizations and employers is flexibility, with a little bit of backbone.”

Top takeaways on generations in the EMS workforce

The “contestants” and “candidates” presented insights into how people think, and what drives and motivates different generations. Following are takeaways on making intergenerational relationships work.

1. What Gen Z is looking for in a position

The Gen Z representative candidate shared the top things she is looking for in a prospective employer:

  • Transparent leadership – “My opinion is less important than why you’re doing it,” she said
  • Leadership that is proactive rather than reactive – remembering that we have a job to do, but looking for solutions to challenges
  • Growth opportunities – “I don’t want to be stagnant,” she said, “I want someone to be pushing me”

2. Top 10 questions to ask a prospective employer

The candidate representatives asked some thoughtful questions that provided insight into how the prospective employer would contribute to their success and safety, including:

  1. In five words or less, how transparent is your leadership style?
  2. What is something you have allowed your best employees to get away with in the past?
  3. Do all rules in the rulebook really apply all the time?
  4. What are my options for advancement for position and pay?
  5. What is your viewpoint on taking care of the mental health needs of your employees?
  6. What does the most successful person in your organization do differently?
  7. If I have a significant issue with another employee and refuse to work with them, how would you handle?
  8. How would you handle it if I want to change a program that you’ve developed?
  9. If I spoke to one of your employees, what is one thing they would say about you that is not true?
  10. How are you going to keep me safe?

3. How to succeed in EMS

While the interviewees and interviewers agreed successful leaders are transparent and share metrics so employees always know where they stand, the top qualities the employers were looking for in their staff were professionalism, including:

  • Showing up. Successful employees show up every time, put in a hard day’s work and put in extra hours when required. “They are there for the organization.”
  • A positive attitude. Successful employees treat people fairly and with respect. When patients lodge complaints, often it’s “not because you forgot a protocol; it’s because you weren’t respectful.”
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Photo/Kerri Hatt

Bonus takeaway: Why the full uniform?

One of the first-year EMT applicant’s first question revolved around a common complaint: do I really need to wear the full uniform all the time, or is it OK to wear shorts in the summer? On this, the employers were unanimous – the uniform is the uniform.

First, the uniform presents a professional front (imagine your airline pilot showing up in shorts and flip flops – does that inspire confidence?), the panelists agreed.

However, pants also protect the providers from a number of health and safety risks, from unsanitary dwellings to hot asphalt. For health, safety and professionalism – full uniforms are a must.

Additional resources

Kerri Hatt is editor-in-chief, EMS1, responsible for defining original editorial content, tracking industry trends, managing expert contributors and leading execution of special coverage efforts. Prior to joining Lexipol, she served as an editor for medical allied health B2B publications and communities.

Kerri has a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Joseph’s University, in Philadelphia. She is based out of Charleston, SC. Share your personal and agency successes, strategies and stories with Kerri at