EMT/EMS hours and shift working

Are you entering training to become an EMT or paramedic and hearing about shift work and the struggles it can cause? Shift work can be hard for people to adjust to without causing EMS burnout. Instead of spending your time focusing on the more difficult aspects of shift work, our PRO tip at EMS PRO Expo is to focus on the benefits of shift work.

What is a typical EMT or Paramedic work schedule?

EMT work schedules and paramedic hours do vary depending on your location, but it is common to see 9, 12 or 24-hour work shifts. With rural living, it is more typical to see 24-hour shifts, where they follow the Kelly Schedule system or the 48/96 schedule. These make it easy for rural locations to have staff working 24/7 to provide the best service possible. Many times staff will be on duty for 24 hours and on call for the following 24 hours. Stations that follow this model typically house their personnel in a house-like setting so they can eat, sleep and perform daily tasks while waiting for any calls.

When working 9 to 12 hour periods, that can include night stints, many times people struggle when they alternate between daytime and nighttime shifts. In order to prevent this, it can help to advocate for yourself and ask for a consistent night or day schedule that doesn’t switch between the two. Proper mental, physical and emotional health is essential to performing your job to the best of your ability, and proper sleep is a large component of this.

The silver lining of EMT and Paramedic hours

When you are working long hours and feeling EMS burnout, it is smart to remember the good parts about shift working. You can work all of your hours in fewer days, especially when working 24-hour shifts. Most of the time you are just waiting for a call, unlike many nurse shifts that are constantly busy with patients. And realistically, you get paid to eat, sleep and relax between calls.

PRO tip for fighting EMS and Paramedic Burnout:

Are you already exhausted, depressed and struggling to cope with the stress of work? Experiencing these EMS burnout symptoms are more common than you think and should be dealt with. It can be a simple change in your expectations, focusing on the small victories and the reality of your situation instead of hoping for something different. Also making sure you are eating healthy and getting enough sleep to offset these mood swings.

At the end of the day, getting help or finding a support group to talk can greatly improve things. Attending conventions like EMS PRO Expo, can fill the need to connect, get support and talk to veterans in the field. Join us in creating a community of education and support at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.


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