Jen Carrovillano is an EMT, an Exercise Physiologist, and an aspiring Physician’s Assistant from New Jersey. Jen started working at On Time in college, returning home from UNC-Wilmington to work as an EMT during holiday breaks and over the summer.
We recently caught up with Jen on Zoom and discussed studying medicine, properly cleaning ambulances, working as an EMT during a pandemic, baby Yoda memes, and other topics.
Why did you choose to work at On Time?
The two biggest things I wanted were: 1) to get patient care experience for PA school, and 2) get paid working as a new EMT. I had just spent a bunch of money to get my EMT cert, so I wanted to be compensated for the work I was doing. Here I’m able to get paid for my work and also get patient care experience and healthcare experience in general.
How was your onboarding process?
I kind of had a “non-traditional” experience. When I was in EMT school, I did my ride-alongs with crews for On Time. I actually contacted On Time prior to even getting my certification so I could work with crews and start to establish relationships with people. I wanted to get more familiar with everything so I would be prepared once I completed my schooling.
What’s something you like about your job?
All of the people that I've worked with or have been around have been really genuine. I've never had a partner that I couldn't have a conversation with or haven't felt comfortable with. That’s rare to find. And I feel like when you’re in this field you have a mutual understanding of, “Okay. This job needs to get done and we’re in this together.”
How has it been working as an EMT during a pandemic?
When COVID was really bad in March and April, we would get COVID kits at the start of each shift with an N95 mask, surgical gowns, eye protection, and biohazard bags to dispose of the supplies we used. We also had increased cleaning of everything, which I love because I’m a neat-freak.
Before and after every shift, we had to wipe everything down --- and not just the back part of the ambulance --- the front, the steering wheel, all the controls. Everything was disinfected.
We also had a little board in our office and actually online as well. On it, we would post quotes of the day and different things to lift spirits. I remember one week it was pretty bad, we were getting a lot of COVID runs, and someone had drawn Baby Yoda in an N95 mask on the board. Sometimes it’s the stupid stuff that will make you laugh and smile. Sometimes the tiniest little thing can have a huge impact.
So even though everything was really tough, we were kind of a community in a way. We were all able to come together and help people.
How has working as an EMT helped with your pursuits to become a PA?
I’m still relatively new --- but I've seen what good patient care should look like. Just being there for your patient if they’re afraid, if they’re on edge a little bit. We transport a lot of older individuals who might be scared. They don’t know us, so going into an environment where you're being driven by somebody you’ve never met, it’s scary. We show them that we're human and we understand.
What advice would you give to a new EMT?
Going through EMT school was probably one of the smartest things I've ever done. I see a huge variation of different concentrations --- the ER, the wound care center, the dialysis center, the doctor’s office. Having my certification on my resumè has gotten me jobs. Being able to put that on my PA school application is huge. It looks great.
It’s a challenging job that betters you --- it keeps it exciting, keeps you on your toes. I love that. It has also helped me realize that I want to become a PA. So this job has really solidified that career path for me.
The schooling, I’m not going to lie, especially if you’re in an accelerated program, it can be a pretty grueling process. It's a lot of long days, but it's worth it. Especially if you’re pre-PA, pre-Med school, whatever you are, taking the time to do that, it’s well worth it. I'm so, so happy that I did.