We all plan and hope for the best outcomes, but disaster can strike at any time. Having proper help on the ground may save lives and restore order. Leading the charge are the professionals in the medical field. If you’re an expat looking to become a paramedic, it pays to research beforehand.
Basic EMT (emergency medical technician) training takes just around 100 hours, so entering the working field is fast. Starting EMTs offer basic life support services, like CPR and controlling bleeding. The work of a paramedic is usually more involved than for an EMT, taking about 1,300 hours of training. A paramedic provides advanced life support services and can administer medication.
Opting to become a paramedic is without a doubt an excellent decision. Paramedics play a crucial part in helping to save the lives of people during emergency situations. But, the career is not all sunshine and rainbows. Like with any occupation, being a paramedic comes with its own pros and cons.
10 Pros of Being a Paramedic
1. Helping People
People who find great satisfaction in helping someone else usually appreciate the role of a paramedic. Although paramedics don’t see people at their best, they come to them in desperate times. Skilled paramedics know how to stop bleeding and splint broken bones. However, the most exceptional ones go beyond medical assistance and exude true compassion. Some kind words and reassurance can help an injury victim cope better with the trouble that has befallen him or her.
People who love variety and high-level activities at the workplace are ideal candidates for being paramedics. Work is rarely the same for two consecutive days. One day a paramedic might be assisting a person who fell down the stairs in their home. On the day that follows, the same paramedic might be helping a car accident victim on a highway.
3. Seeing Different Types of Events
Paramedics are on call for nearly all events that involve some form of danger, like vehicle races and rodeo shows. Thus, being a paramedic is suitable for those who look forward to attending events without having to purchase expensive tickets. Even events that don’t involve much danger, like country fairs and huge concerts, have several paramedics on standby. They keep the paramedics close by just in case one of the audience members faces a medical emergency, e.g., cardiac arrest.
Taking up a career in paramedicine comes with a certain level of excitement. Paramedics usually ride in the back of or drive a speeding ambulance. They are never quite sure about what they’ll find when they arrive at their destination. But, most times it’s usually something that’s enough to get their adrenalin pumping. A victim’s life might be at stake, but the paramedic has to get there and evaluate the situation before finding out. Such professionals have to think quickly and deal with whatever situation immediately, even if they don’t know what’s going on 100%.
5. Jack of All Trades
Paramedics are jacks of all trades. They know about cardiology, treatment of overdoses, respiratory management, seizures, trauma, burns, strokes, child delivery, and diabetic emergencies. Additionally, they can administer IV and medications, draw blood, drill a needle into a bone, and use a defibrillator and pacer. All in all, paramedics know and understand many medical things, which is just great.
6. Job Security and Room to Grow
Occupations in the healthcare field remain relatively stable even in moments of economic downtime. Moreover, paramedics can do many other jobs with their skills; they are not limited to the ambulance. For instance, they can work in the hospital emergency room. Also, they can work in a doctor’s office checking vitals and taking blood samples. In many parts of the USA, a paramedic can also work as a patient care technician too.
7. Reputable Job
The paramedic role involves helping and saving lives by performing medical care management before taking a patient to the hospital. Since paramedics put themselves at risk to save others, they are viewed as local unsung heroes.
8. Better Response to Emergencies
The job of being a paramedic hones one to respond faster to situations than normal people. Paramedics have better proficiency in managing and responding to emergency cases. That ability is not only useful at work, but it’s also helpful during family emergencies at home.
During the course of their work, paramedics tend to develop exceptional camaraderie. They are usually partnered together for several weeks at a time or indefinitely, which leads to the formation of strong bonds. The healthy working relationships are essential because it means patients will be taken care of on time in a safe and smooth manner.
10. Good Pay
Generally speaking, paramedics earn more than basic EMTs. The wages are commensurate with the education and experience level one has. With more training and experience, the salary is bound to increase. The average yearly pay for a paramedic is $42,839 in the United States and £25,745 in the United Kingdom.
10 Cons of Being a Paramedic
1. Some Patients Are Not So Nice
In the course of their work, paramedics are more than likely to come across people who are having a terrible day. Patients and their relatives sometimes talk to paramedics in an offensive or rude way. In extreme cases, they might even be the target of assault, all because of the high-stress emergency situations can bring.
2. Labor Intensive Job
Paramedics need to have the ability to engage in tons of physical activity. They have to lift patients, sometimes even up or down multiple flights of stairs. Also, they need to be able to move fast and carefully. Standing, crouching, or staying in one position for long is not unusual in the life of a paramedic. And the older they become, the harder the physical exertion takes a toll on their bodies.
3. High Risk of Work-Related Injury and Illnesses
Due to the bending, kneeling, and lifting paramedics frequently do, they are susceptible to sustaining injuries and possible illnesses. They are at high risk of coming into contact with bodily fluids like vomit and blood. Additionally, paramedics often come across persons infected with infectious diseases, such as hepatitis B and AIDS.
4. Lack of Sleep
Paramedics and orthopedic surgeons have the least amount of sleep of all healthcare workers. Many times, paramedics have to work long hours, taking upshifts that last for more than 24 hours. Sometimes, they have a chance to sleep through a night, but in emergency cases, they need to wake up and work.
Doing paperwork is not everyone’s cup of tea. Most Emergency Medical Service Agencies are running and funded by the government, which means tons of paperwork every day. The paperwork is so much that some days one might feel like not running any call to avoid doing paperwork.
6. The risk for Getting Sued
Lots of times, paramedics have to be very careful, so that they do not get sued or fired. Sometimes the job means going over, and doing everything for somebody that’s just using them as a taxi ride to the hospital. Lawsuits are the norm nowadays and medics must be aware that the patients and their family members are always watching. Something as nonsensical as leaving trash in somebody’s house after coding their relative may get one reprimanded or fired.
7. Not all Calls Are Emergencies
The profession of paramedicine is not what everyone makes it out to be. TV shows and films are mostly to blame. Many paramedics enter this career with the assumption that they will be conducting great lifesaving activities daily. But, that is not the case. In fact, most of the calls paramedics run are things that the victims can take themselves to the hospital for. Such things include scraped knees, toe pain, and headaches. Some people even call in for broken hearts.
8. No Time For Family
A paramedic must have understanding family members to do his or her work. The job often means not getting off when one’s shift ends. Paramedics are almost always at work helping people and doing paperwork. Many of them miss important occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries because emergencies come up at any time.
9. Mental Strain
Being a paramedic can be hard on more than just the physical body. The job requires one to be prepared to witness many horrific accidents and situations. Paramedics usually have to see people who have been amputated, gotten shot or stabbed, sustained head injuries, etc. Sometimes, they may even have to hold a person’s hand while they die. Moreover, some patients are mentally-ill and may pose a danger to not only themselves, but also to the paramedic too.
10. It Takes Passion
Burnout is a big issue for paramedics. If a paramedic doesn’t love what they are doing, the profession can get old. It can be difficult having to see so many ailing, hurt and dying people on a daily basis. On top of that, the occupation involves working long shifts of at least 12 hours at a time. For any expat who cannot handle such occurrences, being a paramedic may not be a suitable choice.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.