If you have already earned your EMT-Basic or EMT-Intermediate certification or even advanced EMT certification and have been working as an emergency medical technician for a while, you may come to a point where you have decided to make the next logical step in your career and become a paramedic. Needless to say, the work of an EMT is challenging as well as rewarding and if you feel that you’re prepared to handle the additional responsibility of working as a paramedic, then you will need to pursue some additional training in order to receive this qualification.
Certification as a paramedic is part of the same continuum of training and education required to work as an EMT. In most states, a paramedic is an emergency medical technician who has taken the extra step of completing the highest level of EMT training available to qualify them to work as a paramedic. There are a lot of responsibilities which a paramedic must assume; they can often be held liable for the consequences which may arise from the medical treatment that they provide or that is provided to patients by other EMTs under their supervision.
Like an emergency medical technician with any other level of certification, a paramedic is responsible for providing first aid and stabilizing patients so that they can be transported to the nearest hospital for treatment. The major differences are the type of treatments which paramedics are permitted to administer versus those which individuals with any level of emergency medical technician certification may provide to patients on the scene or during transport as well as the pay grade, which tends to be higher for those who are certified paramedics. Unlike an EMT, a paramedic is permitted to start intravenous lines and administer injections, along with some other somewhat invasive emergency medical procedures.
In order to receive your certification as a paramedic, you will need to meet the requirements of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). This means that you will need to take somewhere between six months and eight months of classroom based instruction along with an additional month of clinical training in a hospital or other healthcare facility. You will also have to complete at least 400 hours of training in the field in order to satisfy NREMT requirements for paramedic training. You will then need to pass a written and a practical exam.
The classroom portion of your training as a paramedic will include topics such as cardiology, trauma, pharmacology, pulmonology, OB/GYN, pediatric emergency medicine and geriatric emergency medicine, among other specialties. You’ll also have practical training in the classroom including advanced life support (ALS) techniques including starting IV lines and administering medications intravenously, intubation (both oral and nasal), manual defibrillation and other ALS skills. The exact set of skills taught in your paramedic training course will depend on what state you reside in, since different states have varying regulations on exactly which procedures paramedics are allowed to provide.
There is a lot of training involved if you want to become a paramedic, but if you’ve been working as an EMT, you’ll be well prepared for the challenge and ready to take the next step in your career in emergency medicine.