Differences Between EMT and AEMT

If you’re exploring the field of emergency medical services (EMS), you’re likely hearing terms like ‘EMT’ and ‘AEMT’ and wondering what the difference is. One role has more advanced training and skills that make a difference during an emergency response.

EMT stands for ’emergency medical technician,’ these professionals provide essential life support and emergency medical services to patients during emergencies. EMTs are also responsible for transporting patients to their next point of medical care.

But what is an AEMT? AEMT stands for ‘advanced emergency medical technician.’ While AEMTs share many of the same responsibilities as EMTs, they have more advanced training and skills to perform more extensive or more complicated medical interventions, including advanced airway respiration, emergency intraosseous access, and more.

The training for an AEMT is more extensive, as well. While there are advanced EMT courses available online, every course will require either a skills week or clinical rotation where you will apply what you’ve learned in simulated scenarios or shadow professionals in the field.

What Does an EMT Do?

EMTs generally provide first aid, basic life support (BLS), and more advanced monitoring of a patient’s condition than your average Red Cross First Aid certification holder. They typically drive the ambulance, stabilize and transport patients, and provide non-invasive interventions according to their assessment findings.

If you want to drive an ambulance, the EMT certification is the minimum licensure level for personnel transporting patients in ambulances. However, their certification provides a very limited scope to the type of care they can provide patients. 

EMTs may only use basic skills that can be safely performed in an out-of-hospital setting. This means they do not use advanced equipment and do not have the ability to administer drugs to patients.

What Does an AEMT Do?

AEMTs can perform all of the same essential functions of an EMT but are trained and authorized to provide a higher level of care or specialized medical interventions, including:

  • Intravenous access: This includes using certain medications, such as Dextrose or utilizing an intramuscular injection, such as Glucagon.
  • Advanced airway support: AEMTs can use an i-gel or a laryngeal tube for airway management.
  • Intraosseous access: Also called ‘IO access,’ AEMTs can use medical devices that penetrate through the patient’s bone to administer emergency medication directly into the bone marrow.

That list is just the tip of the iceberg. AEMT is the minimum required licensure to provide patients with limited advanced emergency medical care. This can happen either on the scene or during the emergency transport.

Is There a Difference in Certification?

The course material and certification requirements also differ because EMTs and AEMTs have different requirements for their jobs and expertise. What is AEMT certification? AEMT certification shares many of the same requirements as EMT certification, such as:

  • Applicants must be eighteen years old or older.
  • Applicants must have earned a high school diploma, GED, or other educational equivalent.
  • Applicants must complete a course for their respective EMS track that is accredited by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).
  • Applicants must pass the NREMT cognitive (knowledge) and state psychomotor (skills) exams.

AEMTs typically must complete a clinical rotation or hands-on simulation learning during their course. Some topics that AEMTs must exhibit competency in include:

  • Patient assessment for trauma and medical assessments
  • Ventilatory management 
  • Pediatric intraosseous infusion
  • IV and medication skills
  • Cardiac arrest management, including operating an AED

The AEMT exam will cover all the content areas listed above, as well as EMS operations, obstetrics, resuscitation, and more.

How to Prepare for the AEMT Exams

According to the NREMT’s website, only about 65% of AEMT exam test-takers pass on the first try. Chances are, you’re an EMT already working and wanting to level up in your career, or you’re juggling other obligations with your AEMT coursework. 

Many courses move through content quickly or use complicated terminology that can fly over your head–but these obstacles don’t mean you’re guaranteed to fail.

That’s why we’ve cultivated the ultimate study and career guide for EMS professionals: the Video Vault. With the Video Vault, you have lifetime access to more than 480 learning and study materials, including videos, audio files, NREMT practice questions, worksheets, and drug cards. If you’re ready to earn your AEMT or EMT certification, the Video Vault is the tool you need to get there!

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