Paramedic School: You won’t be here if you haven’t considered being a paramedic or at least been curious to know who they are and what they do. In the first few paragraphs, you’ll know everything about paramedics, decide whether this is a career worth pursuing and the exact simple steps to be one.
So Who Are Paramedics?
They are medical professionals that save lives by being first responders to medical emergencies. Many a time, people get them mixed up with EMTs because their job descriptions are quite similar. But they differ in how they’re trained, the range of responsibilities they handle and their expected salaries. Paramedics are the most qualified, trained and equipped of all emergency medical responders.
Later in this article, we’ll discuss the difference in qualifications for paramedics and other EMRs.
The Paramedic’s Work-Life.
When there is a 911 call for a medical emergency, paramedics respond with assistance such as closing the wound opening with clean bandage materials and CPR also known as cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Then they carefully observe and analyze the patient’s condition before deciding on the next approach to treatment. The process includes providing first aid, reading medical devices like the electrocardiogram (Ekgs) or administering some type of medicine orally or by intravenous means.
With the patient stabilized, paramedics safely transport the patient to the emergency section of the hospital. In some cases, paramedics are assigned the task of transporting patients from one hospital to another.
Their observations and treatment procedures are recorded and reported to physicians and other medical staff at the medical facility the patient arrives at.
The skillset of a paramedic enables them to work for many organizations that deal with emergencies such as natural disasters, war, and crime. Many works for health facilities like hospitals, health centers, nursing homes, and private ambulance services. Others work in fire departments or with peacekeeping organizations in war zones.
Regardless of where the paramedic works, there is bound to be action. This makes for exciting work, filled with different scenarios and loads of stimuli. Perfect for whoever dreads a quiet desk job.
For paramedics who work in urban areas, work often starts at homes or offices as these are often the scenes of medical emergencies. They usually arrive as a team of 2 certified first responders who have to stabilize the patient and transport them to a medical facility. One continues to attend to the patient, while the other mans the transport vehicle. The ambulance could be an automobile, boat, helicopter or plane. The nature of the rescue mission determines the mode of transportation.
Many paramedics work on 12 hour shifts and during weekends since they work on emergencies. But their work week can be crammed into a 3 day window, leaving them with free time, a coveted upside.
So How Do You Become One?
It’s simple, you have to go to a certified paramedic school. But don’t worry, this necessarily needs some 4 or 8 year degree where you labor on stuff you won’t use most of the time in your actual job. Everything you learn in a paramedic school certificate program will come in handy. We’ll be looking at all the steps you can take to become a paramedic.
How long do you go to school to be a paramedic?
To be a paramedic, you have to go through more than 1800 hours of coursework in a paramedic school. You start at the basic training (EMT-B), a course you can complete in 6 months. Then you have to work as an EMT for another 6 months to gain experience on the job. At this point, you can go for the paramedic training (EMT-P) by taking an accredited course.
We’ll be looking at these courses in detail in the next subtopic. The amount of time spent on these training programs is influenced by the course schedule of the organizers and the drive of you the student.
What qualifications do you need to be a paramedic?
A paramedic goes through a series of training before they get certified. Your starting point would be a high school diploma or its equivalent. Then the EMT basic, an optional EMT intermediate course, and the EMT paramedic course. There are also soft skills and attitudes that help one be a good paramedic. We’ll be looking at these in detail.
This is a 3 week to 6 month introduction course to your paramedic career. With a high school diploma and CPR certification, you’ll be trained in fundamental life-saving skills. The course is taught by hospitals, community colleges, and accredited universities. When you are done with the training, you take a state certification exam for emergency medical technicians.
Here are some topics you’ll be studying at this level
- Patient’s assessment
- Use of CPR
- Handling blood loss
- Use of bandages
- Handling respiratory problems
- Common injuries
- Emergency childbirth
In this 150-160 hour course work, you’re taught in class and practice on the field.
Although it isn’t a compulsory course, you must have gone through EMT-basic to attempt it. It has between 30 – 350 hours of coursework. The focus here is on trauma/shock, patient assessment and other emergency procedures.
You have your training program divided into classroom directives, clinical practice, and some field experience. Exams are also taken in this order with hands-on and multiple-choice sections. At this stage, some of the courses you can expect to learn include
- Trauma/shock emergencies
- CPR tailored to different individuals like infants, children, and adults.
- Control of bleeding
- Common injuries
This training is generally offered by medical schools and hospitals.
This is the highest level of EMT (emergency medical technician) training. You’re expected to have gone through the EMT-basic and had at least 6 months of experience working as an emergency medical technician. This is because all courses taught at this level would build on past knowledge in EMT-basic and work experience.
The 6 – 24 month course focuses on wound cleaning, emergency service management, patient psychology, manual defibrillation and administration of medicine. If you don’t want to attend the EMT course then you can get an associate or bachelor’s degree.
Paramedic Associate Degree
This is a 2 year paramedic associate degree. The aim of the program is to equip a would be paramedic knowledge and hands-on skill to quickly get to the emergency scene, access the patient, treat adequately and transport them to the hospital. You get an AAS (Associate of Applied Science) in Paramedic Medicine. Below is a list of subjects you’ll be trained in.
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Introduction to Cardiology
- Airway and Respiratory Management
- Patient Assessment
- Paramedic Pharmacology
- Trauma and Shock
- Introduction to Paramedic care
Paramedic Bachelor Degree
The aim of this program is to provide on-the-scene care to patients in critical conditions before transporting them to a hospital. It requires some classroom work, clinical and field experience, and a rigorous internship program. In addition to the courses you study in this program, you learn
- Basic healthcare
- Life support — pediatric and cardiac
- Emergency medicine
- Prehospital life support
- Emergency behaviors
When you’re done with this program, you can take extra training in emergency situations/missions that warrant air travel (planes and helicopters), disaster response or substance abuse.
Mode of Learning
You can either take this training on campus or online. If you’re worried about balancing studies with your work, then you might want to consider taking online courses. Many institutions that offer paramedic programs offer online courses. Although the practical work still needs to be done in a medical environment, under the supervision of a trained and experienced paramedic.
There are loads of advantages of taking the paramedic study program online.
- For one, the online courses offer you the ability to study while maintaining a source of income through your job.
- You can fix classes during time slots where you’re rested and free of pressing responsibilities.
- The cost of education is lowered since you aren’t paying for campus services.
- Also, some schools give you the option to transfer credits.
Keep in mind that for you to succeed with online learning, you have to be good at managing your time. This can only be done with strategy planning, self-motivation, and discipline.
Some duties of the paramedic include
- Patient assessment
- Advanced respiratory procedures
- Taking emergency calls
- Giving medications and injections
- Transporting patients to the hospital
- Treating patients on the way to the hospital
- Working in collaboration with the police and firefighters.
Certain qualities are important if a paramedic hopes to do a good job. They include
- Leadership and communication skills.
- Quick decision making skills.
- High performance under high stress situations.
- Action oriented
- Critical thinking skills.
How Much Does It Cost To Go To Paramedic School?
See, it all depends on the type of paramedic program you enroll in. A paramedic certificate takes a lot less time to complete but an associate/bachelor’s degree can give you more opportunities in the healthcare industry.
The location of the paramedic school can increase or lower costs. If you are an in-state student you’ll most likely pay less. But for most of the time, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $10,000 on average. Typically, these fees don’t include hidden costs incurred while in the paramedic program. Some of these costs include transportation, uniforms, books, housing, food and more.
Do due diligence, look at the courses each paramedic program offers and compare. Expensive courses don’t necessarily translate to the most valuable courses.
As for financial aid, you should check with your school of choice to find out their financial aid packages.
What Is The Difference Between A Paramedic And An EMT
An EMT is one who has taken the Emt-basic exam and has been certified while a paramedic has gone ahead to do extra training EMT-paramedic. All paramedics are EMT but not all EMT are paramedics.
Paramedics are the most trained and equipped of all EMT and are allowed to handle the oral and intravenous administration of drugs to a patient before taking them to the hospital. EMTs are not trained or allowed to give medication that breaks the skin except on allergy situations.
Paramedics go through a rigorous training process that can last between 6 to 2 years for a certificate program. Associate and Bachelor’s degrees take 2 and 4 years respectively. EMTs do 3 weeks to 6 months of certified course to begin work.
The only requirement to get into EMT-basic is a high school diploma and CPR certification. But for the EMT-paramedic program, you need to be a certified EMT with at least 6 months of on the job experience.
What Paramedic School Can Train You To Be A Paramedic
There are many colleges that can train you to become a paramedic. You just have to choose one based on where you live (except for online students), the cost of tuition, courses offered and the general quality of education in such schools. We’ll be looking at 3 colleges that offer paramedic programs.
I.Washburn Institute Of Technology
It has an online program and an 82% graduation rate. It’s health programs are known to turn out well trained paramedics that go on to fit perfectly in the health industry. They also have a 54% chance of getting financial aid. Their robust curriculum includes a 12 hour ambulance field internship, 200 hours of classwork, compulsory 9 credit hours and 8 clinical internships.
Once you’re done, you can take national tests where you get certified. The price for tuition is $5,472 and is located at Topeka, Kansas.
II. Concordia University Chicago
There is a 100% chance of getting financial aid with this university, but that comes with a high cost of tuition. $29,760 for a paramedic program is quite a sum of money and is above the average tuition cost for equivalent paramedic programs elsewhere. It has an online course and a 60% graduation rate. It’s located at River Forest, Illinois.
III. Lake Area Technical Institute
Located in WaterTown, South Dakota, this school has very affordable tuition fees at $2,616. It’s paramedic program is online with subjects like patient assessment, pharmacology and physiology. The program is built to prepare students for the rigors of the job.
With a graduation rate of 62%, you can complete the 40 credit hour program in less than 2 years. If you still need financial aid for this program, then there is a 22% chance of getting it. With such low tuition fees it’s low financial aid is understandable. The best part about this school is that their graduates have a 99% chance of employment in the state. That’s some motivation to complete the course.
Working as a paramedic can be a very fulfilling fun-filled career. And if you want a job with impact, action and stimulation, being a paramedic will check all the boxes. When you’re on the job, you’re on a mission to save lives.
Take care of the steps mentioned in the article and leave a comment about how the journey to being a paramedic turned out. We’ll be stoked to know!