Stephens ’21 Gains Medical Experience During COVID-19 as EMT

By Caitlin Burns | February 23, 2021

Psychology major and pre-Physician Assistant (PA) student Kylie Stephens ’21 wanted a more hands-on internship working with patients as opposed to what she calls a “look but can’t touch” experience. 

With hopes of joining the medical field as a Physician Assistant after graduate school, she wanted something that affirmed this career path—so she joined Acute Care as an emergency medical technician (EMT) in July. 

“I wanted experience in the medical field before I got to grad school,” said Stephens. “It’s easy to say you want to be a doctor or nurse, but you might not be able to handle the stuff you see once you’re in it. Being an EMT spoke to me the most, since you’re right in the line of action.”

During summer 2019, Stephens completed the Emergency Medical Services Training Certification at Arcadia, which prepares students and community members to pursue advanced degrees, secure health care careers, and sit for the emergency medical (EMT) board examination. Although she passed the board examination that summer, it wasn’t until starting with Acute Care that she put her training into action.

“It definitely was weird starting a career in health care in the middle of a pandemic,” said Stephens, who received the COVID-19 vaccine in December and January. “I had lost track by August of the number of Covid patients we’d transported. It was a big risk, and I sometimes felt guilty coming home to my family. But someone needs to take care of these patients, and I’m willing and able to.”

Stephens works 13-hour shifts at a time; in the fall, she worked two days a week. However, with trying to finish up her last semester of school, she’s had to cut her shifts to only Saturdays. With her ambulance partner, Kyle, Stephens takes 911 calls and transports patients from the hospital to care facilities. At 21, Stephens legally can’t drive the ambulance for two more years. She works in the back of the cab with patients and sometimes an Advanced Life Support paramedic for difficult cases.

As a Psychology student, Stephens admits her path and experience as an EMT is non-traditional for a Physician Assistant. A transfer student from the University of Pittsburgh, where she was a neurology student, she changed her major when she came to Arcadia.

“I’ve always been interested in psychology,” said Stephens. “Although psychology isn’t as medically related, it helps with understanding why people act the way they do. It helps humanize someone and not just see them as a number or statistic.”