Comparison of the Scope of Practice of the Army Combat Medic Specialist and Civilian National EMS Certification Levels

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Prehospital emergency care


INTRODUCTION: The transition of Army Combat Medic Specialists (Military Occupational Specialty Code: 68W) from military to civilian emergency medical services (EMS) is challenging, and the pathway is not clearly defined. Our objective was to evaluate the current military requirements for 68W and how they compare to the 2019 EMS National Scope of Practice Model (SoPM) for the civilian emergency medical technician (EMT) and advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT).

METHODS: This was a cross-sectional evaluation of the 68W skill floor as defined by the Soldier's Manual and Trainer's Guide Healthcare Specialist and Medical Education and Demonstration of Individual Competence in comparison to the 2019 SoPM, which categorizes EMS tasks into seven skill categories. Military training documents were reviewed and extracted for specific information on military scope of practice and task-specific training requirements. Descriptive statistics were calculated.

RESULTS: Army 68Ws were noted to perform all (59/59) tasks that coincide with the EMT SoPM. Further, Army 68W practiced above scope in the following skill categories: airway/ventilation (3 tasks); medication administration route (7 tasks); medical director approved medication (6 tasks); intravenous initiation maintenance fluids (4 tasks); and miscellaneous (1 task). Army 68W perform 96% (74/77) of tasks aligned with the AEMT SoPM, excluding tracheobronchial suctioning of an intubated patient, end-tidal CO(2) monitoring or waveform capnography, and inhaled nitrous oxide monitoring. Additionally, the 68W scope included six tasks that were above the SoPM for AEMT; airway/ventilation (2 tasks); medication administration route (2 tasks); and medical director approved medication (2 tasks).

CONCLUSIONS: The scope of practice of U.S. Army 68W Combat Medics aligns well with the civilian 2019 Scope of Practice Model for EMTs and AEMTs. Based on the comparative scope of practice analysis, transitioning from Army 68W Combat Medic to civilian AEMT would require minimal additional training. This represents a promising potential workforce to assist with EMS workforce challenges. Although aligning the scope of practice is a promising first step, future research is needed to assess the relationship of Army 68Ws training with state licensure and certification equivalency to facilitate this transition.

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ePub ahead of print

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