The impact of an Emergency Medical Technician basic course prior to medical school on medical students

Tasha R. Wyatt, Elena A. Wood*, John McManus, Kevin Ma, Paul M. Wallach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Previous research on Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) programs as an early clinical experience indicates that medical students’ confidence in patient care and team-building skills increases with participation. However, very little is known about the unplanned, long-term effects of EMT courses on medical students once they enter medical school. Objectives: This study examined the immediate outcomes produced by the month-long summer EMT course and the unplanned outcomes that students reported 1 year later. Methods: Pre/postsurveys were collected on all 25 students who graduated from the EMT course offered before their first year. These survey data were analyzed using a paired-samples t test. A subset of students (N = 14) consented to taking a survey and be interviewed on the lasting impact of their EMT experience. Interviews were conducted 10 months after the 2016 cohort completed the EMT course and at 22 months for the 2015 cohort. They were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using inductive content analysis. Results: Survey results indicated that students’ confidence in patient care and team-building skills increased significantly for all identified skills at the P < 0.05 level. Overall confidence in patient care increased 1.5 points (P = 0.001) on 1–4 Likert-type scale. Overall confidence in team-building skills increased at 0.7 points (P = 0.01). Qualitative analysis of interviews discovered four themes, including the retention and transferability of practical skills, a developed understanding of team communication, comfort with patient interactions, and the development of a framework for assessing patients’ needs. Students applied the EMT skills in various extracurricular volunteering experiences and in clinical skills courses. Conclusions: This study concludes that EMT programs have both immediate and lasting effects that seem to assist students with making sense of and navigating other learning opportunities. Specifically, EMT courses offered to students prior to their entry into medical school may help orient them to team-based health care and triaging patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1474699
JournalMedical Education Online
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • medical students
  • pre-matriculation
  • qualitative analysis
  • undergraduate medical education


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