Exploring the Importance of Different Items as Reasons for Leaving Emergency Medical Services between Fully Compensated, Partially Compensated, and Non-Compensated/Volunteer Samples

By Blau, Gary; Chapman, Susan et al. | Journal of Allied Health, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Exploring the Importance of Different Items as Reasons for Leaving Emergency Medical Services between Fully Compensated, Partially Compensated, and Non-Compensated/Volunteer Samples


Blau, Gary, Chapman, Susan, Gibson, Gregory, Bentley, Melissa A., Journal of Allied Health


The purpose of our study was to investigate the importance of different items as reasons for leaving the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) profession. An exit survey was returned by three distinct EMS samples: 127 full compensated, 45 partially compensated and 72 noncompensated/ volunteer respondents, who rated the importance of 17 different items for affecting their decision to leave EMS. Unfortu - nately, there were a high percentage of "not applicable" responses for 10 items. We focused on those seven items that had a majority of useable responses across the three samples. Results showed that the desire for better pay and benefits was a more important reason for leaving EMS for the partially compensated versus fully compensated respondents. Perceived lack of advancement opportunity was a more important reason for leaving for the partially compensated and volunteer groups versus the fully compensated group. Study limitations are discussed and suggestions for future research offered. J Allied Health 2011; 40(3):e33-e37.

THE PURPOSE of this study was to test for differences in reasons for leaving the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) field between fully paid, partially paid, and volunteer EMS respondents who had already left their EMS position. Recent general research1 has shown that job satisfaction and intent to stay for paid employees are more strongly explained by satisfaction of autonomy needs, while satisfaction of relatedness needs more strongly explains volunteers' job satisfaction and intent to stay. Specific EMS-related research2 has shown satisfaction and stress differences between currently employed versus volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). Paid EMTs were less likely to be satisfied with the recognition received as well as job freedom, and more likely to cite the perceived stresses of work interference with family life and being taken advantage of, versus volunteer EMTs. Volunteer EMTs were more likely to be dissatisfied with their days off schedule and the stress of responsibilities that were different than anticipated, versus paid EMTs. Comparing full-time versus part-time employees, more general research has found full-time employees to have higher job involvement than part-time employees. 3 To the authors' knowledge, research-to-date has not specifically compared leaving reasons for those who have already exited fully paid, partially paid and volunteer EMS respondents. Due to the retrospective and exploratory nature of this study as well as a concern about the level of respondent participation, we did not propose a priori hypotheses to test.

Methods

SAMPLE AND PROCEDURE

The Longitudinal Emergency Medical Technician Attributes and Demographics Study (LEADS) is an annual survey conducted by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) in partnership with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Between 1999 and 2008, 1,036 study participants who indicated that they were temporarily or permanently not practicing in the field of EMS were mailed an exit questionnaire. Of those individuals, 478 returned the exit survey (46%). Of these 478 exit respondents, 234 respondents (49%) reported they were never employed in EMS. Using the 244 exit respondents indicating EMS employment, we formed three groups. Those included 127 (52%) who reported positions that were fully compensated, 45 (18%) who reported partially compensated positions and 72 (30%) who reported non-compensated volunteer positions. It is important to point out that a number of jobs outside of EMS, such as ski patrol, search and rescue, summer camps, day care facilities, police, etc., either require or find EMS training beneficial or desirable.4 Hence, a sizeable number of those receiving EMS training may have never intended to join the EMS workforce.

A presentation of background characteristics of the sample is shown in Table 1. Across all three groups, a high percentage of respondents indicated that they had not retired or stopped working after leaving their EMS position. …

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