INTRODUCTION: Professional behavior is one of the cornerstones of effective emergency medical services (EMS) practice and is a required part of the National Standard Curricula for advanced levels of EMS education. However, peer rating of emergency medical technicians with respect to the 11 categories of professional behavior never has been quantified. This study uses a peer evaluation methodology to assess the affective competencies of practicing EMS providers. METHODS: A professional behavior evaluation form was included as part of a survey that was sent to 2,443 randomly selected, nationally registered emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Participants were asked to rate the EMT partner with whom they worked most closely in the past year using 11 different categories of professional behavior using a Likert scale. RESULTS: One thousand, five hundred, ten (61.8%) surveys were returned and analyzed. Both nationally registered EMTs at the Basic and Paramedic levels rated their partners with respect to 11 categories of professional behavior. The overall average score was 0.68 on a 0-1 scale, with one being the highest. The rating of each of the categories was: (1) integrity (0.77); (2) appearance/personal hygiene (0.74); (3) patient advocacy (0.73); (4) empathy (0.72); (5) self-confidence (0.70); (6) careful delivery of service (0.70); (7) respect (0.65); (8) communication skills (0.64); (9) time management skills (0.63); (10) teamwork/diplomacy skills (0.62); and (11) self-motivation (0.61). Overall, the NREMT-Paramedics rated their partners significantly lower than did the NREMT-Basics (p = 0.0156) and experienced EMT-Basics rated their partners significantly lower than did the newer EMT-Basics (p = 0.0002). Those EMTs who indicated high satisfaction with their current EMS assignment rated their partner more highly on professional behaviors than did those EMTs who were not as satisfied. CONCLUSION: Overall, EMTs peer evaluation of professional behavior was 'good.' The behaviors most highly rated were integrity and appearance/personal hygiene. The behaviors rated lowest were self-motivation and team work/diplomacy. It appears that paramedics are more critical of their colleagues than are EMT-Basics, that experienced EMT-Basics are harsher critics than are newer EMT-Basics, and that there is a relationship between job satisfaction and peer evaluation.
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