How to Become a NEMT Driver

How to Become a NEMT driver

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Have you ever counted the number of ambulances outside a hospital and wondered how they can serve so many patients? The answer is simple: Non-emergency medical transport drivers.

They play a crucial role, and healthcare systems rely on them every day.

Read this guide to learn how to kickstart your career in healthcare. You’ll be on your way to becoming an NEMT driver in no time.

EMT vs. NEMT Drivers

You’ve heard of EMTs, but you might not have heard of N-EMTs.

So, what’s the difference?

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) provide emergency medical care. They undergo extensive training and must be certified by the National Registry of EMTs to practice.

EMTs ferry patients to the hospital when they need to get there fast. They administer lifesaving CPR and tend to wounds along the way if necessary. They may also liaise with other agencies, like law enforcement, at the scene of an accident.

What is an EMT Driver?

NEMT drivers handle most non-critical transportation. That is, they transport patients for more mundane tasks.

These patients may need assistance getting to and from medical appointments, dialysis treatments, and other healthcare services. Regardless, their condition doesn’t warrant the use of an ambulance.

NEMT drivers do not typically provide medical care. However, they must understand the needs of their passengers and ensure their safety during transport.

Why NEMT Services Are Vital for the Healthcare Industry

Non-emergency medical transport might not appear as glamorous as the lifestyle of EMTs, but it fulfills a vital role in healthcare systems worldwide.

In one sense, NEMT drivers are unsung heroes of the healthcare industry. Without NEMT services, patients with limited mobility would be unable to attend essential appointments. This would lead to worsening health conditions and increased healthcare costs.

Moreover, NEMT drivers help to reduce emergency room visits and readmissions.

This is because they enable patients to better access preventative care and manage chronic illnesses. By doing so, they reduce the burden on emergency medical services.

Roles and Responsibilities of an NEMT Driver

The main job of an NEMT driver is to ferry patients from A to B. While not expected to provide medical care, NEMT drivers must be aware of the needs of their passengers.

NEMT Driver Qualifications

Their day-to-day duties include:

  • Keeping accurate records
  • Maintaining and cleaning transport vehicles
  • Logging incidents that may occur
  • Transporting passengers safely
  • Assisting passengers during transit

Good communication skills are essential.

NEMT drivers interact with families, dispatch centers, and healthcare professionals. In some cases, families may communicate with NEMT drivers before speaking with a doctor, so the driver will have to be able to pass the information along efficiently.

Qualifications and Skills Needed By NEMT Drivers

First and foremost, NEMT drivers need a valid driver’s license with a clean record. Requirements vary by state, but most drivers need to be at least 21 years old.

Ideally, they’ll have some professional driving experience under their belt.

In addition to a driver’s license, NEMT drivers need excellent customer service and communication skills. They’ll be interacting with patients and their families a lot. Rarely, NEMT drivers may encounter emergencies during transportation.

So, strong problem-solving skills and the ability to handle pressure are crucial.

Some states may include first aid and CPR courses in their NEMT driver training requirements. In California, however, this isn’t a requirement. Background checks, drug tests, and medical examinations may be required to ensure NEMT drivers can do their jobs well.

NEMT Driver Training

While formal education isn’t usually required to become an NEMT driver, several certifications help aspiring drivers acquire the skills they need.

Professional driving experience is expected by most employers. Defensive driving courses teach NEMT drivers how to navigate challenging road conditions. They help drivers avoid accidents.

They can also lower insurance premiums. This can make drivers more attractive to employers, who will see their insurance costs shrink as a result.

Many patients are transported in a wheelchair. So, attending patient transportation courses will make you more attractive to employers. Additionally, training programs that focus on transporting patients with specific medical conditions can help your career.

For instance, people who suffer from autism and dementia have specific needs.

In-house Training

Some employers offer in-house training for new hires. Yet it won’t substitute professional driving experience. Instead, in-house training covers topics specific to NEMT services. These can include:

  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Safety procedures
  • Company policies
  • Wheelchair use

Training will differ by employer. However, it’s often in an employer’s own interest to train their staff on policies and procedures. Asking about training opportunities is a great way to establish trust between you and your interviewer when you get that far!

How To Apply for Non-emergency Medical Transportation Jobs

To find opportunities, aspiring drivers can start by searching online. NEMT service websites are a great place to start. They will regularly post open positions if they’re hiring.

Local hospitals and nursing homes may also employ drivers directly.

How To Stand Out When Applying

You should emphasize the skills that make you a good fit. You need to show that you’re committed to providing safe, reliable transportation for patients. Relevant skills and experience include:

  • Personal driving experience
  • Professional driving experience
  • Customer service skills
  • First aid certification
  • Other healthcare-related certifications

A well-worded cover letter will help your application. Your cover letter should highlight relevant skills and experience.

At the interview stage, you should be prepared to discuss your experiences driving and working with individuals with medical conditions. Prepare to answer questions about vehicle safety and maintenance.

Demonstrating a heartfelt interest in helping others can help to win over your interviewer.

Advance Your Career as an NEMT Driver

Becoming a non-emergency medical transport driver is a rewarding career in a growing industry. NEMT drivers enhance the quality of life for their passengers and play a vital role in improving access to healthcare.

Are you interested in becoming an NEMT driver?

At Affinity Transit, we’re always on the hunt for new talent in the Los Angeles area. We’re a family-owned business that offers paid training, sick leave, a 401(k), and a profit-sharing program for all our employees. You can browse our careers page by clicking here.

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