Recruitment and Retention of Emergency Medical Technicians: A Qualitative Study

By Patterson, P. Daniel; Probst, Janice C. et al. | Journal of Allied Health, Fall 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Recruitment and Retention of Emergency Medical Technicians: A Qualitative Study


Patterson, P. Daniel, Probst, Janice C., Leith, Katherine H., Corwin, Sara J., Powell, M. Paige, Journal of Allied Health


Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are critical to outof-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. J Allied Health 2005; 34:153-162.

EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES (EMS) is a vital part of the health care continuum for victims of trauma or sudden debilitating illness. Like many allied health practitioners, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) form the front line of their service. The EMS workforce can often go unnoticed until called upon and thus receives little attention from the public on issues challenging the workforce on a day-to-day basis. An issue of particular significance to the EMS system and one that has received little public attention is recruitment and retention.

In 2001, state EMS directors from across the nation identified difficulties in recruiting and retaining EMS personnel.1 Barriers to recruitment and retention identified by the U.S. Fire Administration include inadequate emotional support after a critical incident, scheduling conflicts, family commitments, fear of disease spread, and excessive training requirements.2 Perceived patient abuse of the EMS system has also been identified as a contributor to low retention of EMTs.3 Although anecdotal evidence and small studies are available, a substantial literature exploring recruitment and retention of EMS personnel does not exist. Such literature, however, does exist in other areas of allied health, where the relationships between job stress and job satisfaction and job turnover in the workplace are well established.4-6

The study by Flanagan and Flanagan of correctional nurses, for example, identified a link between job stress and job satisfaction.5 As perceived stress increased among correctional nurses, reported job satisfaction declined.5 Other research has identified a relationship between job stress and job satisfaction with absenteeism, illness, productivity degradation, and turnover.4,6,7

Although research has yet to establish similar relationships in EMS, several EMT occupational factors have been identified as sources of high job stress and low job satisfaction.8-13 Boudreaux et al. found high levels of job-related stress among a sample of EMTs in Louisiana, linking high stress to patient care activities and demanding work schedules.9,10 According to other EMS researchers, job stress originates from numerous sources12,14,15 and has been shown to negatively affect employee attitudes and employee/management relationships.8,11 Job-related stress negatively affects the home life of EMTs and paramedics as well.8 One study of EMT burnout showed a decrease in employee morale as stress and burnout increased.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Recruitment and Retention of Emergency Medical Technicians: A Qualitative Study
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?