Diversification in EMS: Are We as Diverse as We Think We Are?

Marilee Vosper, M.Ed., EMT-P; Rachel Walberg, BA; Scott Craig, CCEMT-P, I/C; A.C. Cook, NREMT-P; Tristan Pennella, BS; Avis Thomas, MS; Sandi Wewerka, MPH, CCRC, EMT-B

Introduction
Research shows that the demographics of EMS professionals in the United States are not diverse and there is a lack of studies examining the demographics of individuals pursuing an EMS career. Understanding the changing demographics of individuals pursuing EMS allows educators to better prepare for their audience and changing learning environment. This study describes the diversification of EMS students during the past six years.

Hypothesis
The demographics of students have changed since 2008.

Methods

Demographic data from EMS students who opened accounts in Fisdap™, an internet-based administrative database, were retrospectively reviewed for students with
the following criteria: student provided consent for research, reported age >15 years. Analyses were performed with Chi-Square tests.

Results
162,510 EMS students were included in the study. There was a highly statistically significant change over time in age and sex (p<0.0001). 79.7% of students reported their sex; there was an increase of 0.32% and 23.6% in male and female students respectively. 26.6% of students reported their age; the population of students aged 18-24 increased, students aged 25-29 increased 0.29%, students aged 30-39 decreased 0.25% and students 40 and older increased 1.61%. Data for ethnicity was only captured for 2013-2014 and only 20% of students reported; there was an increase in population of 0.09% for African American, decrease of 0.06% for Asian, decrease 1.37% for Caucasian, increase 1.35% for Hispanic, and an increase of 0.25% for other.

Discussion
Understanding the changing demographics of individuals pursuing EMS allows for educations to better prepare for their audience and their changing learning environment. This information also provides employers charged with cultivating a diverse workforce a starting point in order to develop diversification efforts and tailor action plans.

Limitations
• FISDAP is a limited data set; only 84% of accredited paramedic programs utilize student accounts.
• Age, Ethnicity and Gender are all optional data points.
• Only 26.6% of students (43,266) reported their age.
• Only 20% of students (35,000) reported their ethnicity. This data was recorded only in 2013 and 2014.
• Only 79.7% of students (129,649) reported their gender.

Conclusion
While we may feel that we have made progress in becoming diverse, the changes, while statistically significant, are small. It was noted that with time, more students reported their age, ethnicity and sex. Future studies may more accurately describe the changing demographics. Further research should compare the demographics of incoming EMS students and those successfully completing programs, as well as the impact of regional or school-specific diversification initiatives on student population.