Improving Critical Listening skills in EMT Students

Daniel Armstrong, Franca Ferrari-Bridgers



Introduction: Although the importance of EMT students utilizing critical listening skills is apparent, there is little research focused on EMT students or EMTs and critical listening. Ensuring EMT students develop critical listening skills can be an asset that reaches beyond the goal of improving their education. It also has the potential to improve the quality of care they go on to deliver. EMTs may have the only verbal contact with the patient while they are still conscious, or with bystanders that witnessed the incident, or family members/health aides that can give vitally important information on the patient’s condition. If an EMT is not adept at critical listening, vital information may be lost, and the repercussions can be serious. This project was designed to determine whether EMT student critical listening ability and class performance would improve from engaging in critical listening exercises.

Methods:  Critical listening exercises were emphasized during an EMT course by assessing student knowledge of the Patient Assessment module through two listening exercises modelled after the Ferrari, Lynch, and Vogel Listening Test that measures for critical listening skills. The Patient Assessment module was assessed twice within four weeks in a test-retest design.

Results: The data analysis of a total of n = 51 students’ performance in the pre and post-assessments yielded positive results and showed students significantly improved their listening ability within the four-week period.  An overall score increase of 34.50 % was found between the pre and the post assessment results. Moreover, the data analysis showed that as the result of the listening exercises, students scored significantly higher in the section of the certifying exam that included critical listening exercises than in all other sections.

Conclusion: The results suggest performing critical listening exercises and assessments can help EMT students properly develop critical listening skills and improve performance.


EMT Education; Critical Listening EMS

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