Written by Christopher Wang (PEACE Advisor)
Some of my colleagues in the Berkeley Medical Reserve Corps, a non-profit disaster relief organization, are science majors. Some are economics majors, and some are even computer science majors. Being an EMT is not dependent on being pre-med or planning to go to graduate school. Rather, those paths can be easier to accomplish with some clinical experience under your belt. Establishing patient conduct and maintaining professionalism are the most important skills one can have. Whether you are a doctor, nurse, paramedic, EMT, CPR-certified, or even a layman, if the patient is comfortable with you and believes in you, then a big step in providing treatment has been accomplished. Recognizing the importance of modern medicine and the role of treating patients as a prime priority will help all throughout a career. Becoming an EMT can develop these skills and make for great stories and experiences that other people would be interested in hearing. It’s a highly relevant form of clinical experience for medical school applications. Just don’t get a certification and list it on your resume without working, the schools don’t like that so much.
How do I become an EMT? Most people leave or stop reading after I tell them that a course is around $2000. Yes, that’s right: two thousand dollars. Community colleges may offer the course for free or at a lower rate, or other organizations may charge two or three times as much. The bottom line is that to become nationally registered, one must take any accredited course and pass. That’s the first step. The second step is to take the National Registry Exam, available at any licensed testing center. After that, it’s only a matter of applying to the local county’s EMS agency and obtaining the county and state license. Then, voila! You can work as an EMT. Overall, expect the process to take 3 – 6 months, depending on the length of your course and the transit times for the papers. Some courses are two weeks and others are half a year long. If you are still reading at this point, I commend you and your dedication to find ways to help serve the community. My experience has been nothing short of wondrous, and I invite you to participate in the same duty to act as an extension of the nation’s emergency medical service and pave your path from here.