Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the United States Emergency Medical Services Workforce: A Scoping Review.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVE: Emergency medical services (EMS) workforce demographics in the United States do not reflect the diversity of the population served. Despite some efforts by professional organizations to create a more representative workforce, little has changed in the last decade. This scoping review aims to summarize existing literature on the demographic composition, recruitment, retention, and workplace experience of underrepresented groups within EMS. METHODS: Peer-reviewed studies were obtained from a search of PubMed, CINAHL, Web of Science, ProQuest Thesis and Dissertations, and non-peer-reviewed ("gray") literature from 1960 to present. Abstracts and included full-text articles were screened by two independent reviewers trained on inclusion/exclusion criteria. Studies were included if they pertained to the demographics, training, hiring, retention, promotion, compensation, or workplace experience of underrepresented groups in United States EMS by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender. Studies of non-EMS fire department activities were excluded. Disputes were resolved by two authors. A single reviewer screened the gray literature. Data extraction was performed using a standardized electronic form. Results were summarized qualitatively. RESULTS: We identified 87 relevant full-text articles from the peer-reviewed literature and 250 items of gray literature. Primary themes emerging from peer-reviewed literature included workplace experience (n = 48), demographics (n = 12), workforce entry and exit (n = 8), education and testing (n = 7), compensation and benefits (n = 5), and leadership, mentorship, and promotion (n = 4). Most articles focused on sex/gender comparisons (65/87, 75%), followed by race/ethnicity comparisons (42/87, 48%). Few articles examined sexual orientation (3/87, 3%). One study focused on telecommunicators and three included EMS physicians. Most studies (n = 60, 69%) were published in the last decade. In the gray literature, media articles (216/250, 86%) demonstrated significant industry discourse surrounding these primary themes. CONCLUSIONS: Existing EMS workforce research demonstrates continued underrepresentation of women and nonwhite personnel. Additionally, these studies raise concerns for pervasive negative workplace experiences including sexual harassment and factors that negatively affect recruitment and retention, including bias in candidate testing, a gender pay gap, and unequal promotion opportunities. Additional research is needed to elucidate recruitment and retention program efficacy, the demographic composition of EMS leadership, and the prevalence of racial harassment and discrimination in this workforce.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rudman, JS; Farcas, A; Salazar, GA; Hoff, JJ; Crowe, RP; Whitten-Chung, K; Torres, G; Pereira, C; Hill, E; Jafri, S; Page, DI; von Isenburg, M; Haamid, A; Joiner, AP

Published Date

  • October 24, 2022

Published In

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 13

PubMed ID

  • 36190493

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1545-0066

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/10903127.2022.2130485


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England