Paramedic programs train students to save patients' lives. Paramedics need more knowledge and skills than emergency management technicians (EMTs). Necessary skills include intubation and resuscitation techniques.
Some schools ask for EMT certification and prerequisite coursework. Certificate programs take one year to complete. Associate programs for paramedics include general education courses. These degrees take up to two years to complete. Program length depends on enrollment status.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for EMTs and paramedics to grow by 6% from 2019-2029. This is faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. The BLS reports that these professionals earn a median annual salary of $35,400. Paramedics need more education and expertise than EMTs, so they earn higher salaries. One way to do that is through vocational and trade school programs.
What Can I Do as a Paramedic?
Paramedics and EMTs work together to provide life-saving emergency services. Job duties include assessing patients' conditions and providing treatment. These professionals also write reports for physicians and nurses. Aspiring paramedics take upper-division courses in human anatomy. They also study typical traumatic injuries and medical conditions and patient assessment.
Completing a paramedic program qualifies graduates to apply for a state-issued paramedic certification. Some states allow qualified medical workers to become paramedics with only some education. Certification candidates may need to pass an exam. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) administers this exam. A background check is often required as well.
Experienced paramedics can advance their careers and salary potential. The next step is usually becoming a physician assistant or medical assistant. These and other related careers need a bachelor's degree or higher. Many top programs offer flexible schedules. This allows learners to continue working while earning a degree.
Accreditation for a Paramedic Program
Students considering programs for paramedics should ensure that each prospective school holds accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education approves six regional accrediting agencies. These agencies assess postsecondary schools in different geographic areas. Colleges and universities must meet high standards to earn regional accreditation.
Some paramedic programs feature a hybrid format, which combines online and on-campus coursework. Schools with online or hybrid programs should hold national accreditation. This accreditation comes from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). This designation demonstrates quality education for both online and on-campus learners.
Top paramedic programs hold programmatic accreditation as well. This comes from private agencies specializing in EMT and paramedic education. NREMT accreditation is one example of programmatic accreditation. Only graduates of NREMT-accredited programs can qualify for certification. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs may also verify programs.
FAQ on Paramedic Programs
Paramedic programs last 1-2 years. Program length depends on whether the program confers an associate degree or certificate. Factors such as enrollment status also impact graduation time.
EMTs and paramedics work together to save lives. Paramedics need more education than EMTs. Paramedics also qualify to perform advanced life-saving measures.
Paramedics respond to medical emergencies in ambulances or fire trucks. They also deliver patients to hospitals. These professionals update doctors and RNs about patients' medical conditions. They also provide updates on the treatment patients received before reaching the hospital.
Shifts last 12-24 hours and can take place overnight and on weekends. EMTs and paramedics restock supplies, perform administrative tasks, and rest between medical emergencies.
What Are the Requirements for a Paramedic Program?
Admission requirements vary between certificate and associate degree programs for paramedics. Certificate programs often need an EMT certification and professional experience. Most programs do not accept learners under the age of 18. Other admissions materials may include FAFSA results and a background check.
Paramedic program curricula usually involve both in-class instruction and hands-on experience. Experiential components let students practice career skills. These may include advanced CPR, cardiac life support, and differential diagnosis. Some programs mandate an internship. Interns work with certified paramedics and other medical professionals.
Courses in a Paramedic Program
Students in associate-level paramedic programs take major and general education courses. The latter emphasize transferable skills, such as communication, writing, and research. Major courses provide the knowledge and training necessary for paramedics' jobs.
Students in paramedic certificate programs often complete the courses below. Certificate coursework builds on knowledge from an initial EMT program. The following sample curriculum does not reflect the requirements of all paramedic programs. Students should contact their prospective school for information on courses and requirements.
This course reviews essential skills that EMTs and paramedics use in the field. Course topics include emergency management services (EMS) systems, IV therapy, and emergency pharmacology. Students also learn how to manage on-the-job stress and to seek services if necessary.
Learners gain an understanding of paramedics' responsibilities, as well as human development. Degree-seekers prepare to assess patients' needs and administer appropriate treatment. Besides EMT certification, prerequisites may include biology, English, and mathematics classes.
Students often complete this lab and a paramedics theory course in the same semester. During the lab, students practice intubating patients, inserting IVs, and calculating medicine dosages. Learners show their competency by working with manikins, lifelike dummies with anatomical features. Degree-seekers also interpret electrocardiogram results to identify cardiac distress, such as heart attacks.
Paramedic Practical Skills
Students in their first semester hone both new and existing skills. They assess patients' vitals, administer medications, intubate, and identify life-threatening symptoms. Students work under medical professionals' supervision. They gain advanced technical proficiencies necessary for paramedic jobs. The course usually requires extra fees, such as student liability insurance.
Paramedic Hospital Practice
Students apply knowledge from their first semester to a field internship later. Learners work in various hospital and clinical settings. They care for patients and practice skills. Interns develop transferable communication and critical thinking skills. Internships entail several prerequisites. Plus, learners may need to pay fees. These fees compensate field supervisors for their time and feedback.
Paramedic Field Internship
During their final semester, students spend almost 150 hours working in local hospitals. Learners can prove mastery of knowledge and skills by assisting patients. Students work under supervision at job sites. These may include operating rooms, mental health units, and labor and delivery rooms. Learners pass or fail based on supervisors' feedback. Candidates must have completed most of their paramedic program's coursework. They should have earned at least a "C" grade.
Paramedic Hospital Internship
Professional Organizations for Paramedic Majors
Professional organizations for paramedics and students offer job boards, scholarships, and networking events. These organizations may also deliver professional development courses and certifications. These can help paramedics increase their career and salary potential. The following list highlights a few professional organizations for students in paramedics programs.
Scholarships for Paramedic Students
A paramedic program takes less time to complete than a bachelor's degree. Still, these programs mandate a significant financial investment. Private scholarships can help learners reduce or cut their student debt. Many scholarships, including those below, accept applications from aspiring paramedics. Some awards renew yearly as long as recipients remain in good academic standing.
Who Can Apply: Practicing first responders and their children qualify for the scholarship. Candidates must submit an essay of 250-500 words. The essay should discuss an inspiring first responder the applicant knows. Learners must apply by March 8, and the foundation notifies recipients in June. Scholarship recipients cannot apply again the following year.
Who Can Apply: Bound Tree's scholarship serves aspiring firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics. Applicants must have a parent or caregiver working in emergency management services. Candidates submit two recommendation letters and a one-page essay. The application window closes on March 27, and Bound Tree announces recipients on July 6.
Who Can Apply: The California Paramedic Foundation awards three scholarships at a time. These awards go out 1-2 times each year. In-state EMT and paramedic students can qualify for the awards. The scholarship committee reviews applications on a rolling basis. Prospective applicants can sign up for the foundation's newsletter. This newsletter gives information about application requirements and details.