College EMS: Widening the Scope of Practice
Alongside his role as an EMT on the Swarthmore EMS squad, Chris Gaeta is also the Director of Business Operations at the Journal of Collegiate EMS. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Chris to ask him about why he started working as an EMT in college and hear his perspective on the biggest challenges that collegiate EMS programs encounter.
Anna Harleen: Thanks for taking the time to chat today. First, I’d like to know what drew you to becoming an EMT and joining an EMS squad during college?
Chris Gaeta: Originally when I looked into becoming an EMT, somewhat informally, I was also shadowing clinicians in emergency medicine, surgery, and other disciplines. I was really interested in working with patients and delivering care. A teammate of mine mentioned that he’s an EMT, and it was exactly the experience I was looking for. Both the patient interaction and the family-like work environment. It’s been an awesome experience and way to work with patients.
AH: Given your experience in the collegiate EMS space, what do you think are the most important challenges that college squads and programs encounter?
CG: This is definitely a question I encounter often because my role with JCEMS, the journal. In that role, I have the chance to really interact with squads on the ground. Going to different campuses, like Penn’s campus or Drexel’s campus, I get to continually develop these relationships with squads. It’s humbling to see the commitment that squads put in at all of these different schools. They are advocating for themselves, whether it’s for funding or for support from their administration. There’s a lot of real positive, foundational components that these squads have.
The biggest challenge that programs face, from my perspective, is the ability to have and encourage a wider scope of practice. They are EMS squads, so inherently they’re responding to emergencies. But I think that innovation and the progressive values that a lot of college EMTs, myself included, share is an interesting outlet that could be further developed. These existing squads can expand their influence to educate their peers on topics such as the effects of vaping, drinking, or a whole host of other things. College EMS squads have a lot of drive to make change and be innovative, which could happen empirically through clinical research. Or companies like Avive can facilitate the growth of squads that are passionate about changing the delivery of care. This type of innovation really goes hand-in-hand with the future of pre-hospital care.