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Public Health


Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are critical to out-of-hospital care, but maintaining staff can be difficult. The study objective was to identify factors that contribute to recruitment and retention of EMTs and paramedics. Information was drawn from three focus groups of EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, and EMT-Paramedic personnel recruited from participants at an annual conference. Thoughts and feelings of EMTs and paramedics were investigated using eight questions designed to explore entry into emergency medical services, what it is like to be an EMT or paramedic, and the EMT educational process. Data were analyzed at the group level for common themes using NVivo. For a majority of respondents, emergency medical services was not a primary career path. Most respondents entered the industry as an alternate or replacement for a nursing career or as a second career following military medic service. The majority of respondents believed the job was stressful yet rewarding, and although it negatively affected their personal lives, the occupation gave them a sense of accomplishment and belonging. Respondents expressed a preference for EMT education resulting in college credit or licensure versus professional certification. Job-related stress produced by numerous factors appears to be a likely contributor to low employee retention. Recruitment and retention efforts should address study findings, incorporating key findings into educational, evaluation, and job enhancement programs.


Patterson, P. D., Probst, J. C., Leith, K. H., Corwin, S. J., & Powell, M. P. (2005). Recruitment and retention of emergency medical technicians: A qualitative study. Journal of Allied Health, 34((3), 153-162.

© Journal of Allied Health, 2005, Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions

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