Have you thought about becoming a paramedic? Many people have. Being a paramedic can be very rewarding and we certainly need more of them. The projected job growth rate has been estimated to be over 30 percent by 2020. So, there will be plenty of jobs available when you graduate. You need to keep in mind that you will work very long hours, need to be physically fit, quick on your feet and remain calm while you are helping patients.
Before you can consider becoming a paramedic there are some requirements you’ll need to have. You must have a high school diploma (or GED) before you can be accepted into a paramedic program. You’ll need to take science courses such as biology, anatomy and physiology. If you already have a bachelors degree in the life sciences, you’re already ahead of the game.
You’ll also have to be at least 18 years of age and be able to pass a background check. It also helps if you possess the qualities of a paramedic or are capable of developing them along the way. The qualities include things like compassion, being a good listener, interpersonal skills, be physically fit, have good communication skills and be able to resolve problems at a moments notice. Depending on your location, it might be handy if you have a second language such as Spanish or some other language. In some parts of California, there are a number of orientals and in Florida there are many Hispanics. If you are in such an area, this may land a paramedic job for you with ease if the other applicants are not bilingual.
You’ll need to become certified in CPR. This can be cone before you enter a paramedic program, however some programs offer the course so you can take it then. It just depends on the particular program you go into. Nevertheless, you can always pick up a course from the Red Cross or American Heart Association in your community. You’ll be pleased to know that the course is very inexpensive.
Next on the agenda is to acquire the EMT-Basic certification. You should know that there are 4 different levels of EMT certification. The first one is the Emergency Medical Responder (EMR or First Responder), the second is Emergency Medical Technician Basic (EMT-B) referred to as an EMT, the third is Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT or intermediate certificate), and the fourth is a paramedic certificate (EMT-P). Make sure to get EMT-B certificate. This class is often available at your local junior college and usually runs a semester.
Then you can take the National Registry EMT-B test. This test can be a bit tricky. Are you familiar with adaptive tests? Well, this is a computer exam that alters itself to your ability meaning that it changes the difficulty level based on your earlier responses on the test. The sole purpose of this is to determine your level of knowledge. Also keep in mind that you will be tested on hands-on materials so it is a good idea to practice all your EMT skills ahead of time so that you know them by heart.
If it is possible, it is a good idea to get Basic EMT experience (for one year). You don’t have to do this but it will get you familiar with what a paramedic does and prepare for higher certifications. With or without Basic EMT experience it’s time to step up to training as an intermediate EMT or go for the Paramedic certificate (EMT-P). Unless you just not ready, it’s a good idea to go straight for your EMT-P.
If you’re interested in Basic EMT experience and go that route, make sure to get some sort of documentation of all the calls you have attended and what each call was about. This will come in handy when you interview for your next certification. This provides proof of your experience and gives you an advantage in being accepted. Now, your ready to enroll in a paramedic program.
Paramedic programs can vary in different schools so take a look at different programs to see what interests you. See what other certifications are available in the paramedic program. Some schools offer:
- Intravenous classes
- Advanced Anatomy and Physiology
- EKG interpretation
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support
- Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support
It’s a good idea to have certificates in some of the above areas or perhaps all of them if they are available.
Oh, and don’t forget to take a course in ambulance driving. This course runs for 8 hours. Although, a course in ambulance driving may not be required in your location, it’s a good thing to have. Generally, ambulance drivers are hired from an outside pool.
Now it’s time to take your National Registry Exam. You must pass the exam and then you will be registered as an EMT-P. Keep in mind that the exam has written and practical parts. Additionally, some states require paramedics to take a state exam as well so check and see what your state requirements are.
EMT with gear
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Susan has studied at the University of Texas Medical Branch Marine Biomedical Institute in Galveston, Texas and the University of South Florida in Tampa and received a Ph.D. in Biology with a major in Neuroscience and minors in physics and mathematics. Area of research is in brain transplantation and behavior testing with twenty years of teaching experience. Fields of interest include the physical basis of memory and learning, brain repair and regeneration as well as neuro-development. As an educator, has taught thousands of students at the college level in anatomy and physiology, biology, microbiology, marinebiology, nutrition, communications, radiography, ultrasound, mathematics and physics. She enjoys reading current scientific literature and simplifying the material making it readily available to the public.