Stack of books with an open book on top

25 Books Every EMT Should Read

The importance of reading books in the pursuit of excellence as an EMT.

Stack of books with an open book on top

Reading plays a pivotal role in the professional development of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) due to its significant impact on their knowledge, skills, and empathetic understanding of patients. EMTs are entrusted with providing immediate medical care in critical situations, necessitating a comprehensive understanding of medical procedures, protocols, and evolving advancements in healthcare. Continuous learning and professional development are fundamental aspects of an EMT’s career, enabling them to stay updated with the latest medical literature, technological advancements, and evidence-based practices. Reading medical journals, textbooks, and research papers helps EMTs expand their knowledge base, ultimately leading to improved patient care and outcomes.

Furthermore, reading augments an EMT’s skillset by exposing them to diverse scenarios and case studies. It allows them to learn from others’ experiences, adopt best practices, and adapt to various medical emergencies effectively. Understanding different perspectives and approaches through reading can enhance problem-solving abilities and critical thinking, both critical attributes in emergency medical services. Additionally, delving into literature that explores human experiences, psychology, and sociology fosters empathy in EMTs, aiding them in better comprehending patients’ emotions, fears, and needs during distressing moments. Reading is an indispensable tool for EMTs to continuously advance their knowledge and expertise. It serves as a cornerstone for lifelong learning and professional growth within the dynamic field of emergency medical services.

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The Essential Medical Texts

For EMTs seeking to establish a strong foundation in basic medical knowledge, several essential books cover anatomy, physiology, and fundamental medical procedures. Here is a brief list of foundational medical texts that every EMT should have.

Emergency Care and Transportation of the Sick and Injured by American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) is a foundational textbook that comprehensively covers EMT training, offering critical insights into pre-hospital emergency medicine. It addresses a wide array of topics, including trauma, airway management, cardiology, and medical emergencies, providing a holistic understanding of the EMT’s role and responsibilities.

Emergency Care by  Daniel Limmer and Michael F. O’Keefe has provided generations of EMT students with the practical information they need to succeed in the classroom and in the field. The 13th edition meets the 2010 American Heart Association guidelines for CPR and ECC and provides the most current, accurate reflection of EMS practice today.

Principles of Anatomy and Physiology by Gerard J. Tortora and Bryan H. Derrickson delves into anatomy and physiology. It breaks down the complexities of the human body, its systems, and functions, providing crucial knowledge for EMTs to comprehend the physiological processes underlying various medical conditions.

Nancy Caroline’s Emergency Care in the Streets by Nancy L. Caroline is another recommended textbook that not only covers medical procedures and techniques but also emphasizes critical thinking and decision-making in emergency situations. It is a vital resource for EMTs to develop a strong clinical foundation and enhance their problem-solving skills.

These foundational books are not only valuable during initial EMT training but serve as indispensable reference materials throughout an EMT’s career. EMTs can refer back to these texts to refresh their knowledge, review medical procedures, and reinforce their understanding of anatomy and physiology. The dynamic and evolving nature of healthcare mandates a commitment to continuous learning, and these books provide a solid base upon which EMTs can build their expertise.

Female EMS professional using a tablet and speaking with a person

Patient Assessment and Communication

Effective patient assessment techniques and strong communication skills are paramount in emergency medicine. Here are few books that focus on the importance of clear communication during emergencies and the importance of fostering empathy with patients during these critical circumstances.

Emergency Medical Responder: Your First Response in Emergency Care by American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) provide valuable insights into patient assessment methodologies, emphasizing the crucial initial steps in evaluating and managing a patient’s condition. This includes teaching how to conduct thorough physical exams, gather relevant medical history, and communicate effectively with patients and bystanders to obtain critical information.

The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story by Christie Watson, while not focused exclusively on EMTs, sheds light on the importance of compassionate communication in healthcare. This text shows how clear communication during emergencies is essential for accurate diagnosis and timely intervention. It emphasizes the positive impact that empathetic and clear communication can have on patients, creating a sense of comfort and trust during distressing situations.

Compassionomics: The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence that Caring Makes a Difference by Stephen Trzeciak and Anthony Mazzarelli delve into the scientific evidence supporting compassionate care and the profound impact it has on patient satisfaction, recovery, and outcomes. These insights can guide EMTs in developing strong patient-provider relationships, instilling trust, and fostering empathy.

Emergency Medical Protocols and Procedures

Staying up-to-date with the latest protocols and guidelines is paramount for EMTs, as it ensures they provide the best possible care to their patients. Medical knowledge and practices evolve, and EMTs must continually adapt to new standards and evidence-based approaches. Regularly reviewing updated textbooks, attending training courses, and participating in continuing education are essential strategies to stay current in the field and maintain the highest level of care for patients. The following books provide detailed information on emergency protocols, trauma management, airway management, and pre-hospital care, offering valuable resources for healthcare professionals in the emergency medicine field.

Emergency & Critical Care Pocket Guide by Paula Derr provides essential information on emergency procedures, medications, and critical care. It covers a wide range of topics relevant to emergency medical professionals in a convenient pocket-size book.

Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice by Ron Walls, Robert Hockberger, and Marianne Gausche-Hill is a comprehensive textbook that covers various aspects of emergency medicine, including trauma management, airway management, pre-hospital care, and a wide range of emergency conditions.

ATLS: Advanced Trauma Life Support Student Course Manual authored by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma is the definitive manual for trauma care education. It covers the initial assessment and management of trauma patients, emphasizing a systematic approach to trauma care.

Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide is an anthology edited by Judith E. Tintinalli, J. Stephan Stapczynski, O. John Ma, David M. Cline, Garth D. Meckler. This widely respected textbook in emergency medicine, covers a broad spectrum of topics including trauma management, airway management, and pre-hospital care.

Critical Thinking and Decision-Making

Developing critical thinking skills is crucial for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) to effectively handle high-pressure situations. The following books help EMTs make quick and informed decisions in real-life scenarios. For instance, during a mass casualty incident such as a natural disaster or a major accident, EMTs must quickly assess and triage numerous patients, making rapid decisions on who needs immediate attention and who can wait. Similarly, in a cardiac arrest situation, EMTs must analyze the patient’s condition, administer appropriate treatments like CPR or defibrillation, and coordinate effectively with their team. These situations demand quick, accurate, and critical decision-making.

Female EMS professional closing her eyes in the ambulance

Tactical Emergency Medicine by Guy H. Haskell and Vincent B. Mosesso Jr. is a book that focuses on preparing healthcare providers, including EMTs, for critical decision-making in challenging and dynamic situations. It covers topics such as trauma management, and shock management, aiding in the development of critical thinking skills necessary for quick and informed decision-making during emergencies.

The Emergency Mind: Wiring Your Brain for Performance Under Pressure by Dan Dworkis, MD PhD shows that whether you’re an emergency medicine resident, medical student, APP, nurse, paramedic, entrepreneur, athlete, or anyone else who performs under pressure, you can take concrete steps to wire the brain for the best possible performance and build your own emergency mind for those situations when you’re needed the most.

Peak Performance Under Pressure by Stephen Hearns uses first-hand accounts of high-pressure situations within emergency medicine, covering relevant aspects such as cognitive aids, teamwork, organizational culture and tactical leadership. It also describes how we can use different training and simulation techniques to prepare teams to deal with excessive pressure in practice.

These books are invaluable resources for EMTs to enhance their ability to think critically and make swift decisions when every moment counts. By studying the principles and strategies presented in these texts, EMTs can cultivate a more analytical approach to patient care, assessing various factors rapidly and prioritizing actions based on the patient’s condition and the situation at hand.

Leadership and Teamwork

EMTs working effectively within a team is essential for seamless patient care and overall operational success. Effective teamwork ensures that each member contributes their unique expertise, promoting a coordinated approach to patient assessment, treatment, and transport. It helps in leveraging the collective knowledge and skills of the team, leading to enhanced efficiency, better decision-making, and improved patient outcomes. Additionally, a cohesive team environment fosters a culture of mutual support and respect, creating a more positive and productive work environment.

In chaotic and high-stress situations, leadership skills become a linchpin for managing and organizing the team effectively. A strong leader can provide clear direction, prioritize tasks, allocate resources optimally, and maintain a sense of order amidst chaos. Effective leadership ensures that the team remains focused, coordinated, and motivated, helping to mitigate confusion and reduce errors in critical decision-making.

Here’s a few books on leadership and teamwork that EMTs can read to raise their competency and performance in this important aspect of EMS.

Leadership in Healthcare: Essential Values and Skills by Carson F. Dye provides insights into cultivating leadership skills necessary for guiding teams, fostering collaboration, and making informed decisions under stress.

TeamSTEPPS: Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is an invaluable resource for EMTs. This book focuses on enhancing teamwork and communication, offering strategies and tools to optimize team performance and patient safety.

Leadership and Management in Ambulance Services by Richard Pilbery and Richard Archer focuses on leadership and management within ambulance services, offering insights into the specific challenges and strategies for effective leadership in the emergency medical services (EMS) field.

These books offer perspectives and guidance on leadership and teamwork specific to the field of emergency medical services and EMTs, helping professionals enhance their leadership skills and effectively work within teams to provide quality care. Learn how to become an EMT for a comprehensive career overview for medical first responders.

Paramedic Transition and Advanced Topics

For EMTs aspiring to advance their careers to the paramedic level, books covering advanced topics are essential. In addition, understanding pharmacology, cardiology, and advanced life support is crucial for paramedics, as it enables them to administer complex medications, interpret cardiac rhythms, and provide advanced medical interventions.

EMS professionals transporting a person on a stretcher

Paramedic Care: Principles & Practice by Bryan E. Bledsoe, Robert S. Porter, and Richard A. Cherry is a comprehensive textbook that covers a wide array of advanced topics, including pharmacology, cardiology, advanced airway management, and critical care. It serves as a valuable resource for EMTs seeking to deepen their knowledge and skills in preparation for the transition to paramedic level.

Paramedic Practice Today: Above and Beyond, Volume 2 by Barbara Aehlert and Mickey Eisenberg provides advanced topics and practices in paramedicine, focusing on expanding paramedic knowledge and skills beyond the basics.

Critical Care Transport is co-authored by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), and UMBC Critical Care Emergency Medical Transport Program. This book focuses on critical care transport, providing in-depth information and advanced concepts for paramedics involved in critical care and interfacility transport.

Advanced Medical Life Support: A Practical Approach to Adult Medical Emergencies by Twink M. Dalton, Ricardo D. Brown, and Karren E. More addresses advanced medical life support, providing EMTs insights into how paramedics use practical approaches to managing adult medical emergencies in the pre-hospital setting.

Ongoing education and specialization in advanced medical topics are critical for EMTs aiming to advance their careers. Continuous learning not only equips EMTs and paramedics with the most up-to-date knowledge and techniques but also demonstrates dedication to providing high-quality patient care. Specialization in areas like critical care transport, neonatal/pediatric transport, or tactical paramedicine further enhances career opportunities and allows paramedics to serve in specialized roles, providing specialized care in specific settings or for particular patient populations.

Mental Health and Self-Care

Mental health awareness is paramount for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) due to the high-stress nature of their work. The demanding and often traumatic situations they encounter can have a significant impact on their mental well-being. Acknowledging and addressing mental health concerns is crucial as it can help prevent burnout, enhance job satisfaction, and ultimately contribute to better patient care. For EMTs looking for resources to cope with stress, trauma, and burnout, the following books are excellent options.

EMT Burnout: The Secrets to Recognizing & Coping with EMT Stress Syndrome & Staying Fit for Life by Bruce B. Cole sheds light on the unique stressors faced by EMTs and provides strategies to manage stress and avoid burnout.

Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster by Linda Graham is a resource that offers resilience-building practices, which can be valuable for EMTs in managing the challenges of their profession.

EMT Resilience: A Field Medic’s Guide to Stress Management by Anna S. Hemming provides practical strategies and techniques for EMTs to manage stress and build resilience in the demanding field of emergency medical services.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. explores how trauma affects the mind and body, offering insights into understanding and healing trauma, which can be valuable for EMTs dealing with the aftermath of traumatic experiences.

These books provide coping strategies, mindfulness techniques, and resilience-building exercises that can be immensely beneficial for EMTs seeking to manage stress, trauma, and burnout in their demanding and often challenging profession. Additionally, peer support programs and initiatives within the EMS community can offer a sense of camaraderie and understanding, providing a platform for EMTs to share experiences and coping strategies. Mental health should be prioritized, and accessing appropriate support and resources is vital for EMTs to maintain their well-being and continue providing exceptional care to their communities.

EMS professionals helping a man on the ground

Start Your Journey Towards a Fulfilling EMT Career Today

Reading holds significant importance for EMTs’ professional growth as it serves as a gateway to a wealth of knowledge and expertise. The medical field is constantly evolving with new advancements and research, making continuous learning essential for staying updated and providing the best possible care to patients. Reading medical literature, textbooks, and relevant journals enhances EMTs’ understanding of medical procedures, protocols, and emerging technologies, ultimately leading to improved skills and competence.

EMTs can benefit from creating a structured reading plan that aligns with their career goals and interests. By setting aside dedicated time for reading and establishing goals for the material to be covered, EMTs can ensure ongoing learning and development. A well-crafted reading plan can encompass a variety of topics, including medical advancements, patient care techniques, mental health awareness, and leadership skills, broadening their knowledge base and preparing them to tackle the diverse challenges they may encounter in the field.

The knowledge gained through reading not only contributes to enhanced patient care but also elevates overall job satisfaction. Well-informed EMTs are more confident in their abilities to handle critical situations and make informed decisions, resulting in a positive impact on patient outcomes. Read more tips for success as an EMT and learn more about their role as healthcare professionals and the patients they serve.