Paramedic School: Programs, Courses and Training Information

Paramedic schools typically offer both certificate and associate degree programs that prepare students for careers in emergency medical services. Upon completion of an accredited paramedic program, individuals are eligible to sit for the Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic (EMT-P) certification exam, which is administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).

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Selecting a Paramedic School

Programs that prepare students to work as paramedics can be found at community colleges and specialized emergency medical services academies.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Program level
  • Prerequisites
  • Exam preparation
  • Continuing education resources

Program Level

First, prospective paramedics should choose which level of study they'd like to pursue. They can complete either a certificate or associate degree program to qualify for national exams and job placement in emergency medical services. In many cases, the Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Science program is an extension of the certificate program. Students complete their core training first, and then proceed to satisfy general education requirements and finish out paramedic coursework. When comparing programs, individuals should consider if they'd like the option to easily transfer from a certificate to a degree program.

Prerequisites

For either program choice, students must have a high school diploma or its educational equivalent and be certified in CPR. They must also complete an approved emergency medical technician-basic program as an enrollment prerequisite. Some schools seek students with prior working experience in areas such as the military, law enforcement or volunteer response experience.

Exam Preparation

To qualify to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, paramedic candidates must graduate from an accredited program. Many states require prospective paramedics to take and pass a state exam in addition to satisfying national testing. Those looking into programs should consider whether the school prepares its students to sit for and pass all relevant exams.

Continuing Education Resources

Those who have passed state and national certification exams must complete continuing education courses to maintain and renew their certification. This allows them to refresh their skills and stay up-to-date with new information and practices in emergency medical services. Certified paramedics who have passed the NREMT exam are expected to renew their license every 2-3 years. When selecting a paramedic school, potential students might want to consider any continuing education resources available to them after graduation.

Paramedic Program Overviews

Paramedic Certificate

Paramedic certificate programs combine classroom lectures and applied skill labs with clinical experiences in a variety of settings, including hospitals and ambulances. They're designed to train aspiring paramedics to provide advanced life support in emergency situations, including IV initiation and drug administration. Certificate programs usually include coursework in:

  • Patient assessment
  • Airway management
  • Medical emergency management
  • Medical care for special populations

Paramedic Associate's Degree

Associate degree programs in paramedicine teach advanced emergency medical skills such as emergency care, trauma assessment and patient stabilization. They prepare students for management-level careers in pre-hospital care settings and health administration agencies. In addition to the core paramedic curriculum, students complete a number of general education courses, such as English composition, mathematics, general psychology and business. They also gain extensive clinical field experiences that prepare them to recognize, assess and manage medical emergencies of injured or acutely ill patients. Areas of study include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Trauma management
  • Cardiology
  • Advanced respiratory care
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