What led you to choose this career?

I became interested in EMS when I was 14 years old and joined my local fire department's Fire Explorers Program. From a young age, I got to see the difference first responders made and I aspired to do the same. I became an EMT shortly after graduating high school and went right into Cleveland Clinic Akron General's Paramedic Program. I have always loved my career and thoroughly enjoy responding to emergency calls in my community.

What interested you in working for Cleveland Clinic?

I completed my training at Cleveland Clinic Akron General's Paramedic Program. Knowing the quality of the education I received, I wanted to give back to the program by teaching at the same program that taught me.

What physical/or soft skills do you need to succeed in this career?

To be successful as an EMS provider, you have to be willing to put others' needs above your own. You also need to be flexible because you never know from one moment to another what your next 911 call will be. You also have to be patient, willing to work long shifts and in all types of weather conditions.

What excites you about this career field?

Being able to make a positive difference when a patient is having the worst day of their lives is what excites me most about my career. No one calls 911 when they are having a good day, so being able to be part of the solution to a patient's problem is very rewarding.

What has been your most gratifying experience in this profession?

I have had a few patients come back into the fire station to tell us the impact we had with their care. It is always gratifying to see the difference you make in another person's life.

What career options are there for this profession?

There are so many career opportunities for EMTs and Paramedics. You can work for a fire department, private EMS service, in an ER as a tech, in clinics and doctor's office, as a dispatcher, a tactical/SWAT medic, ski patrol, amusement parks, cruise ships, casinos, hotels, resorts, and the list goes on! Or, you can get into teaching and educate those getting into the profession.

What is something others may not know about this career field? What are some common misconceptions?

Many people do not know that there are three levels of EMS providers. EMTs, Advanced EMTs, and Paramedics. In order to become an Advanced EMT or Paramedic, you have to become an EMT first. Many people think that EMTs and paramedics do the same thing, but the reality is they have very different skillsets. The first step is to become an EMT, which only takes four months to complete!

How has this career field changed since you started? What does the future look like?

EMS is a relatively new field. Having ambulances in every community was not something that really existed across the country until the late 1970s and early 1980s. With that said, our profession is constantly changing how we assess and treat patients. We are going to continually enhance and expand our profession. For example, within the last few years, Community Paramedicine has become very popular in larger cities and is helping expand EMS provider involvement in primary care to better care for the community.

What is the #1 piece of advice you would give to interested students?

I would tell any student interested in EMS to shadow a paramedic at their local fire department to see if it is something that interests them. If a student enjoys their experience, I would encourage them to go to EMT school!