Study: EMS jobs mostly filled by white males

Having a diverse EMS crew enables EMTs and paramedics to lower the language and cultural barriers, providing patients a higher level of care


EMS1's Sarah Calams sat down with lead study author Remle Crowe to dive deeper into the insights from this research, and its implications for EMS. Read more here

By EMS1 Staff 

AUSTIN — EMS professions are primarily filled by white males, according to a study conducted by research scientists and colleagues affiliated with Ohio State University and the NREMT.

A recent study concluded that while there is an increase in Hispanics and women completing certifications to fill EMS roles, white males outrank minorities and women in the workplace, U.S. News reported. The study also found that the industry is struggling to put minorities on the job.

The data revealed that over the decade, females who were certified as paramedics did not rise above the initial 23% noted in 2008 while EMT certification among females rose from 28% in 2008 to 35% in 2017. (Photo/Wikimedia Commons)
The data revealed that over the decade, females who were certified as paramedics did not rise above the initial 23% noted in 2008 while EMT certification among females rose from 28% in 2008 to 35% in 2017. (Photo/Wikimedia Commons)

In addition, the study revealed the lack of diversity in the industry preserves health inequalities between whites and minorities. Having a diverse EMS crew enables EMTs and paramedics to lower language and cultural barriers, giving patients a higher level of care.

Dr. David Tan, a Washington University School of Medicine professor and an emergency medicine specialist, said that removing the barriers will make it easier to communicate between first responder and patient.

“[It] may facilitate a more accurate assessment of the medical emergency and enhance the delivery of quality care," Tan said. "Even if the (ambulance) crew is not exactly matched to every patient, a more diverse workforce overall naturally attracts a more diverse range of candidates which, over time, will help shape a more diverse cadre of EMS providers."

Remle P. Crowe, lead author of the study and a research scientist at ESO, states that the industry has struggled to hire minorities, a fact that is backed by previous studies. However, "the surprising finding from the present study is that we're seeing continued underrepresentation among this large, national group of recent graduates, which suggests that the overall diversity in the EMS workforce is not likely to improve right away," she said.

Researchers compiled and assessed data of more than 588,300 EMTs and 105,350 paramedics that received National EMS Certification from 2008 to 2017 by gender, race and ethnicity.

The data revealed that over the decade, females who were certified as paramedics did not rise above the initial 23% noted in 2008 while EMT certification among females rose from 28% in 2008 to 35% in 2017.

African Americans filling EMT roles stayed around 5% and 3% among paramedics. The stats for Hispanics are slightly higher. Hispanics filling EMT roles rose from 10% to 13%, and from 6% to 10% for paramedics.

Researchers are optimistic that recruitment and training efforts, as well as scholarships aimed at these professions, will help recruit a younger and more diverse population to fill the roles.

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