Paramedics are seen by millions of avid medical drama television show watchers every week. They are the medical professionals who provide pre-hospital medical care in emergency situations, and also inform the doctors at a hospital of the nature of their injured patients. Typically, paramedics have the highest level of formal training in field medicine, and it can take them up to 3 years to complete their paramedic training certifications.
So how does one become a paramedic? While the path to becoming a paramedic can be long and hard, as much as two years of training can be done on-the-job. Paramedics have to take three levels of classroom certifications, complete at least one year of EMT field experience, and then pass a state-level exam to receive their full title and responsibilities.
The first step towards becoming certified is by attending a paramedic school, vocational school, hospital training program or traditional university that has an EMT training program. In the first level of EMT classes (called EMT-B), trainees take classes like anatomy & physiology, biology, medical technology and CPR training. Trainees will also be required to do a full year of field experience, either as a volunteer or EMS trainee, to complete EMT-B.
After EMT-B, paramedic trainees can either go into classroom based Paramedic training, or obtain a field work based EMT-I certification. Paramedic training involves classes like EKG analysis, advanced anatomy and physiology as well as a one year field Paramedic course. EMT-I training requires at least 2 levels of 350+ hours of field training along with field tests.
Either way, Paramedic trainees will complete vital field courses like Advanced Pediatric Care, Pre-Hospital Life Support Care and Advanced Cardiac Arrest Care. These will be part of field training, along with IV skills courses. After trainees have completed either EMT-I or Paramedic training, they are then required to complete a one or two year Paramedic internship.
Most technician schools have internship placement services associated with local hospitals, so trainees with their EMT-B, EMT-I or Paramedic training courses finished can complete their internship easily. Internships are entirely field based learning courses designed to give trainees a complete crash course on real-life Paramedic field work.
After completion of the Paramedic coursework and internship training programs, trainees are then required to pass a state-administered NREMT, or National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam to receive their Paramedic license. The NREMT license must be renewed by committee review every 3 years in order for the Paramedic to continue practicing.
While the road to becoming a Paramedic seems like a lot of work, much of the coursework is finished as students are completing field training too. It is this dual-approach to training over 3 or 4 years that allows a Paramedic to be so great under intense pressure.