How to Become a Paramedic in 5 Steps
Learn how you can become an emergency medical technician and advance through the ranks to a paramedic position. Explore education and training options, certification and job duties for paramedics. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is a Paramedic?
Paramedics assist injured patients, stabilizing and transporting them safely to a hospital for immediate medical attention. As a paramedic, you'll be responsible for performing life support procedures on injured people as well treating more minor injuries. You'll be required to constantly check the vital signs of critical patients so you can give accurate information to the emergency medical teams upon arrival at a hospital. To become a paramedic, you must have a high school diploma and earn an EMT-Paramedic Certificate or an Associate of Applied Science in Emergency Medical Technology-Paramedic.
Step 1: Become an Emergency Medical Technician-Basic
In an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Basic training program, you'll take 120 to 150 hours of training and learn how to quickly respond to injured patients, assess their medical condition and provide basic first-aid medical care. As an EMT-Basic, you can work in the field to gain the minimum work experience required for entrance into an EMT-Intermediate or paramedic-training program.
Step 2: Become an EMT-Intermediate
An EMT-Intermediate program allows you to advance your skills and gain more experience in the field before completing a paramedic program. In an EMT-Intermediate program, you build on your existing skills and learn advanced techniques, such as fluid therapy and medication administration.
Step 3: Become a Paramedic
As a student in a paramedic certificate program, you'll learn about anatomy and physiology, trauma, gunshot wounds, emergency childbirth, fractures and IV injections. You'll also learn to work with complex medical equipment and monitors. If you wish to earn an associate's degree at the same time as your certificate, you can enroll in an Associate of Applied Science in Emergency Medical Care-Paramedic program.
Step 4: Earn Paramedic Certification
All states require that EMTs and paramedics obtain certification at all levels, from EMT-Basic through Paramedic. You'll either take an exam administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians or take a state administered exam, based on which state you will work in, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). As a professional paramedic, you'll have to renew your certification every two years. This requires you to continue your education even as you work full-time.
Step 5: Work as a Paramedic
Once you are ready to work professionally, you can expect stressful environments both indoors and outdoors, as well as unpredictable weather conditions. You must carry and lift heavy things, bend and kneel. You may encounter blood splatters, physically and mentally unstable patients, lacerations and severe injuries. You may work for hospitals, police departments or fire departments and an irregular work schedule is typical. You will likely need to be on call to work irregular hours due to unexpected emergencies, with a common weekly workload of 45-60 hours.
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