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How to Become a Paramedic: Paramedic School Training, Paramedic Education Schools

Paramedics are responsible for taking care of patients in a high-stress environment, and are typically called upon by a medical emergencies team to assist in assessing a patient's condition and making sure that they arrive at a hospital when necessary. Paramedics can obtain their emergency medical services (EMS) training at a paramedic school and will begin with basic training followed by at least one year working in an ambulance. Paramedic training programs typically require 18-24 months to complete, and graduates of paramedic schools can explore a variety of career options.

How to Become a Paramedic

Paramedic schools provide training and education in emergency medicine, and are designed to provide both classroom and emergency ambulatory experience. Students who wish to enroll in paramedic school must complete all four levels of EMT training before taking advanced courses in the paramedic training program. Students are also trained to:

  • Conduct preliminary diagnoses of patients
  • Administer drugs and fluids in an emergency setting
  • Apply manual defibrillators
  • Insert emergency orotracheal equipment
  • Transport patients without causing additional injury or harm
  • Work with police departments and detectives

What to Expect at a Paramedic School

EMT and paramedic school programs are divided into several training levels so that each paramedic-in-training can gain learn the critical skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the industry. Prospective paramedics typically go through four basic stages: basic training as an emergency medical technician (EMT-B); working in an ambulance for 12 months; taking preparatory classes at a paramedic school; and then enrolling full-time in a paramedic training program.

The key difference between an EMT professional and a paramedic is the level of knowledge and skills acquired; paramedic training programs are focused on anatomy, physiology, and other advanced topics so that the paramedic can diagnose and assess patients in an emergency situation with utmost accuracy.

Students may choose to pursue their paramedic training on a part-time basis so that they can complete work requirements while completing their paramedic education. Some paramedic schools also offer online paramedic courses where students can complete tutorials and training on a web-based platform. This can be an especially attractive option for students who may be working full or part-time but want to complete their paramedic training requirements.

Career Options After a Paramedic Education

A paramedic education provides the fundamental training and knowledge needed to manage patients in a high-stress setting and make important decisions about a patient's health and medical care. While many paramedics work for an EMS provider for the majority of their careers after completing a paramedic training program, others choose to further their careers in the medical field by attending medical college.

Common career options after a paramedic education include:

  • Dispatcher
  • Clinical Auditor
  • Hospital Paramedic
  • EMS Paramedics

Courses Available at Paramedic School

A paramedic education begins as early as the first year of EMT training, but students are not fully prepared for certification until they have completed all courses and received advanced training in anatomy, physiology and other high-level science courses. Common courses and training programs available at paramedic school include:

  • Pediatric Life Support
  • CPR
  • Defensive Driving
  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology
  • EMT Systems Management
  • Disease Control
  • First Aid
  • Life Support Training

Paramedic Training Requirements

All 50 States require paramedics to be certified by taking a formal certification exam or NREMT. Paramedics are also required to recertify every two years and continue working in their field to maintain their status. Paramedics who wish to advance in their careers may need to take additional paramedic training courses in management, sales or marketing. Management, sales and marketing jobs may involve working with pharmaceutical companies, overseeing an emergency healthcare facility or training and supervising other paramedics so that they may advance in their careers. Many paramedics who complete paramedic school also pursue careers as registered nurses and physicians.

Employment Prospects and Job Opportunities After Paramedic School

Students who have completed all paramedic training components and graduated from paramedic school can enter a rapidly-growing healthcare industry where their skills are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook reports that employment of emergency medical technicians and paramedics is expected to increase by as much as 19 percent by 2016, which is faster than the national average for all other occupations. Many paramedics will find jobs in the emergency medical services field with the steady demand for skilled and experienced professionals.

Median annual earnings of EMTs and paramedics were $27,070 in 2006, and those with advanced skills, training and experience earned upward of $45,280.

Related occupations include:

  • Registered Nurses
  • Physician Assistants
  • Firefighters

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