Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Transitioning From Nursing to EMT – Everything You Need to Know

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Nurses have a diverse range of skills and qualities that help them perform their job duties. These skills come extremely handy when looking to switch careers while staying within the healthcare sector. Although there are various professions to choose from, if you’re currently working as a nurse and looking for a fast-paced job that gives you more freedom, switching to EMT might be the right choice for you.

What is an EMT?

Emergency Medical Technicians or EMTs are health professionals who provide emergency care to people, usually on the way to the hospital. They work alongside fire departments and air rescue teams in emergencies to ensure injured victims receive medical care as soon as possible. EMTs also work in rural areas to provide the sick or wounded in isolated locations with appropriate medical treatment. In urban areas, they often coordinate with large hospital networks, fire departments, and the police to provide the best possible care.

Some of their job responsibilities include:

  • Responding to emergency calls
  • Analyzing the injuries or condition of patients
  • Maintaining a record of what and how the incident happened to ensure an appropriate treatment plan
  • Providing emergency first aid
  • Transporting patients to the emergency department
  • Giving the hospital staff a detailed report of all injuries

How to Become an EMT?

Your nursing education and job experience make you the perfect candidate to transition into an EMT career. Although the two professions are remarkably different, an EMS training program can prepare you for your new role. Follow these steps to become an EMT:


Even with a degree in nursing, you must complete a course on EMT disciplines. Nurses can register for an RN to EMT course that helps them transition to this career. This course provides candidates with the pertinent knowledge and skill set needed to perform their jobs in emergencies. It also offers emergency care protocols that highlight procedures a medical professional must follow. The EMT training course also comprises assessments to gauge and analyze a student’s learning and understanding of emergency care.


Before being certified as an EMT, nurses must first pass the state-approved skill exam designed by an accreditation body. Passing the exam ensures that the candidate has understood and practiced the course contents and is ready for real-world applications. In addition, nursing school education and work experience can benefit you in quickly grasping the curriculum and helping you qualify for receiving the certification.


Most EMT training programs require aspiring applicants to be CPR certified. Since the primary role of an EMT is to provide urgent medical care, having an expert-level skill in CPR is crucial. But because registered nurses already have the necessary training for performing CPR, they can move on to the next step.


EMT programs often require applicants to earn work experience in an emergency setting to strengthen their skills. These can range from 6 months to two years, depending on the program’s requirements and the applicant’s performance. Job openings in a hospital emergency department or critical care unit can help fulfill these prerequisites.


Once you have completed the necessary coursework and gained relevant work experience, you can apply for an emergency medical technician certificate. This certification is essential when applying for jobs as it grants you the license to practice emergency medical care under the relevant authority.

What Skills Must an EMT Acquire?

For a successful job performance, there are several skills that an EMT must acquire. Since their work revolves around emergencies, they must have the ability to make quick and accurate decisions. Additional skills that can improve their job performance are:

1. Communication Skills

All professionals who work in the healthcare sector must have strong communication skills. An EMT is no different. Their constant interaction with people, often in emergencies, makes it crucial for them to communicate clearly and effectively. They don’t just ask the patient for all the essential information but also share it with medical centers and other first responders. Without proper interaction and communication channels, situations can easily get misconstrued, putting the patient’s life at risk.

2. Compassion

Victims of disasters or other accidents are often traumatized after stressful situations. Being the first health professional they encounter, an EMT must show compassion when working with them. Being compassionate allows EMTs to provide the best care to the people and gives them the necessary comfort.

3. Creative Thinking

In the world of EMS, very rarely do you come across a “textbook situation”. Every emergency is different, and an EMT must often figure out the best way to handle it. They extricate injured people from a scene and also treat their medical conditions. Lifesaving skills such as CPR, intubation, and infusion therapies are often performed in cramped spaces. Conventional methods seldom come in handy. Therefore an EMT must be creative enough to deal with a medical issue while simultaneously figuring out how to move the patient.


Although nurses and EMTs belong to the healthcare sector, they are vastly different fields. Nursing professions deal with long-term patient care under the supervision of a physician, usually in a hospital or clinical setting. On the other hand, EMTs focus on conducting an initial assessment and providing medical care in emergencies.

So, if the hecticness and unpredictability of catastrophic situations excite you, shifting to a career in EMT may be the right path for you.

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