The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) industry has grown tremendously over the past 57 years and offers a myriad of opportunities for someone truly dedicated to serving others. One of the most impactful and meaningful opportunities is becoming an industry leader.
Becoming a leader in the EMS community requires a unique combination of skills, experience, and education. In this blog post, we will explore possible pathways to becoming a successful EMS leader.
- Gain experience as an EMS provider
Good leaders have a thorough understanding of the job and the challenges emergency responders face daily. It is sometimes referred to as “street smarts” or the college of hard knocks. Either way, there is no substitute for solid street experience.
Time in the streets allows someone to develop a variety of skills needed to take on leadership roles. These often include communication; not just the ability to speak clearly, but more importantly, to listen! Decision-making, problem-solving, and conflict resolution are all considered pillars of good leadership. Look for opportunities to take on additional responsibilities such as leading small teams, volunteering for specialized committees, or serving as a field training officer.
- Build your portfolio
No one is a “born leader.” Some may possess certain personality traits, but developing a true understanding of leadership qualities requires education and training. There are several leadership development programs available such as NFPA Fire Officer 1, CPSE EMS Officer accreditation, EMS Instructor, and more. Today many EMS agencies also require associates or bachelor’s degree in related fields such as healthcare or emergency management, or public administration.
Other related certifications might include Certified Ambulance Compliance Officer (CACO), Health & Safety Officer (HSO) or Community Paramedic (CP-C). Such certificates not only provide unique perspectives but also demonstrate your expertise and dedication to the EMS field on different levels.
- Develop your leadership skill set
Developing leadership skills requires conscious actions. Consider taking courses in leadership and management, attending conferences and workshops like the 2023 First There First Care Conference, or participating in leadership development programs offered by your employer or industry organizations.
Learn from the experts: Reading the works of recognized leadership icons such as Covey, Maxwell, or Chapman all help contribute to your body of knowledge.
Put those ideas into practice: Seek out opportunities to employ those leadership skills, such as coordinating projects within your agency, mentoring new EMS personnel, or serving as a liaison between your team and other medical professionals.
The 2023 First There First Care Conference offers multiple opportunities designed to enhance your leadership skill set.
- Build a strong network
You can’t do it alone: Creating a strong network of colleagues and mentors is essential for success in the EMS field. Attend conferences like First There First Care, join professional organizations such as the National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA) or the National Association of EMTs (NAEMT), and participate in online forums and social media groups. Become active in local organizations such as the Fire Chiefs Association of Broward County, Broward Healthcare Coalition, or the Broward EMS Council.
Seek out those who can provide guidance and support as you progress in your career. Look for experienced EMS leaders who have walked that path and can help guide your career development, networking, and leadership opportunities.
- Accept opportunities for advancement
Leadership is as much about advancing your career as it is helping others. This may include taking promotional tests, assuming leadership roles within your organization, formal or informal, pursuing supervisory positions, or seeking administrative roles within the EMS industry.
Consider working toward a master’s degree in a related field. Just as undergraduate degrees are becoming popular for entry or middle managers, advanced degrees are often encouraged for higher levels of leadership.
- Have a positive attitude
Being positive about the job and the industry does not mean blindly supporting the cause. Being positive is about always looking for the best opportunities to move forward, supporting and inspiring those you work with, and spreading a feeling of goodwill and true caring to those we serve.
Achieving the above steps helps build that positive attitude and provide you with the tools and insight to help create a positive attitude in others.
Becoming an EMS leader requires a combination of education, experience, leadership skills, networking, and a commitment to continuous learning and advancement. By obtaining the necessary education and certifications, gaining hands-on experience as an EMS provider, developing your leadership skills, building a strong network, and seeking out opportunities for advancement, you can create a pathway to becoming a successful leader in the EMS community and make a meaningful impact in the lives of those we work with and those we serve.
Invest in your professional growth by attending the 2023 First There First Care Conference in South Florida this June. Visit www.firsttherefirstcare.com for details.