What Training Is Needed to Be a Paramedic?
The most highly-trained of emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics provide first-response care to people who are sick or injured. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that paramedics are trained to provide medications, read electrocardiograms (EKGs) and use medical equipment (www.bls.gov). Paramedics work in- and outdoors, and irregular hours are typical. Stress management, safety protocols and the ability to lift large amounts of weight are important aspects of a paramedic's work.
How to Become a Paramedic
Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma
Paramedic training programs require students to have high school diplomas or GEDs to enroll. High school students considering careers as paramedics should take courses in the sciences, health studies and anatomy.
Step 2: Complete CPR Training
Certified competency in cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a requirement for EMT and paramedic training programs. Paramedics must maintain CPR training throughout their careers.
Step 3: Complete EMT-Basic Training
An EMT-Basic program covers such emergency medical situations as choking, bleeding, childbirth, heart attacks and broken bones. The course also covers the use of medical equipment, including splints, stretchers, oxygen masks and backboards. Students learn in the classroom and in the field, riding in ambulances. After completing the course, students apply for certification from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) at the EMT-Basic level.
Step 4: Complete Paramedic Coursework
Offered as either a certificate or an associate's degree, paramedic coursework covers anatomy, physiology and higher-level medical techniques. Students learn to work in an ambulance or aeromedical service. Some of the more advanced medical applications include inserting an IV, handling potentially dangerous blood and establishing order in chaotic situations. Obtaining information from difficult patients and leading a team of EMTs are also discussed. Students in an associate's degree must complete general education requirements.
Step 5: Get Paramedic Certified
Upon completion of an approved program, paramedics may apply for national NREMT paramedic certification, which involves passing a test. The test includes a computerized exam covering airways and breathing, trauma and medical, pediatrics and EMS (emergency medical services) operations. A hands-on portion of the test looks at the paramedic's ability to handle real-world situations.
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