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Guide: How to become a Paramedic
Paramedic Graduation Cake
The Steps Shortened
- Sign up for a local college that offers EMT program or classes
- Take college placement tests and pass them
- Take EMT class
- Get EMT certified and Licensed
- Take prerequisites for Paramedic School, most likely Anatomy and Physiology
- Go through Paramedic School
- Take Paramedic Exam and pass
- Apply for Paramedic Job
- Optional: take corresponding A.S. prerequisites
- Continuing Education Credits
What are you?
Getting Into College
The most important thing is getting into college. It doesn't matter which one, just as long as it's local and cheap. Being an EMT or Paramedic is mostly on the job experience, so it really doesn't matter where you receive your education just as long as you are serious about actually learning the material.
Later on, I will create a hub about different routes to find financial aid for this type of schooling, but if you have it, great! However, if you plan on taking Fire School after Medic, Fire School might not accept your financial aid. There are different routes to take before you actually get to Paramedic School, but coming from others including myself, I suggest taking Fire School after Paramedic.
College Placement Tests
These tests in particular are going to be different in every state. I am in Florida and the tests grade you in reading, math, and English. I somehow managed to pass them and this opened the door for EMT school.
If you aren't the best test taker, they allow a grace period to let you retake the tests. If you didn't pass the first time, I definitely suggest reading more and getting a study guide on your local college's test.
What does it actually mean? Emergency Medical Technician. Most Paramedics actually get hired on as an EMT to acquire more on the job training. EMTs can be found all over the country and can assist a Paramedic or even be first responders.
All EMTs are required to receive their CPR certifications as well. CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. I received mine through Emergency Medical Consultants. When going through Paramedic school, more certifications will be needed, but this will be added in a later capsule.
An important thing to remember is to receive the card from an American Heart Associated Company. There are quite a bit of instructors who are not affiliated with AHA and can get both you and the instructor in trouble, due to incorrect licensing. I'm not sure of the other details relating to this, but it was highly suggested from my school to have a card by the AHA.
Once finished with the EMT program a test must be taken in order to receive a license. To do this, you must align with the Department of Health and the state.
How I Got Into EMT School
My story is a little different how I actually got into EMT school. I was 17 when I first joined the class and was able to have my high school fund the program through dual enrollment. This was in the Spring semester of my Senior year. The only problem was, I had to finish my clinicals after I graduated High School.
Because my high school paid for the class, they covered my cost of books as well. If you look at the picture above it will explain what was actually charged to my High School. I saved myself $652.92!!
In order to be accepted into the Paramedic Program, Survey of the Human Body or Anatomy and Physiology must be taken. This is to get a better understanding of the body and how it actually works. Without these, you will be lost in the program and playing catch up learning body parts instead of crucial information regarding medications or treatment algorithms.
Save Save Save
While in EMT school and finishing prerequisites, my biggest suggestion is to save. After you sign up for this program you will not have a life. Your days will consist of class, more class, clinicals, and on the job training at the fire department. Each school is different, but there is lots to be learned! Above is a snapshot of just how expensive just the classes will be. You don't have to come up with all of the money right up front, but it is recommended you have it anyway.
Emergency Vehicle Operator's Course. In between Paramedic school and after EMT, you will learn how to correctly drive an ambulance. This is a completely separate course and highly suggested even as an EMT. EVOC will guide you through cones and teach you how to park as well.
The good new is, if you have an insurance company that is familiar with this certification, your car insurance can be reduced. Note* not all insurance companies accept this.
The Paramedic Course
The actual course takes a lot of time and effort. Be prepared to do nothing but constantly study. My program in particular started in January and ended in November. Other programs can range from a couple months to a full year.
During the course, ACLS, PALS or PEPP, 12-Lead EKG, and ITLS will be covered.
ACLS - Advanced Cardiac Life Support
PALS - Pediatric Advanced Life Support
PEPP - Pediatric Education for Prehospital Professionals
ITLS - International Trauma Life Support
Starting in the beginning, it is important to learn medications and drug calculations as you will be covering this the entire year and using them in scenarios. Scenarios will be used in both the EMT classes and Paramedic classes as direction for certain treatments. Scenarios are also used for testing the medical provider's skills.
As time goes on, you will become more familiar of the requirements of the program. Some students become lazy and lose interest because it's repetitive after a while. Don't be that student! Suck it up, it's only a year for a great career!
Because my school was separated into 3 semesters, the third semester consisted of being medically released by the medical director. A medical director is a physician who creates the protocols or guidelines associated with the program.
When finished with the program, you must sign up with the Department of Health and the State and take an exam in order to receive your license.
Passing the Paramedic License Exam
Just like the NREMT, there is a test to obtain a Paramedic License. In order to pass the state exam, you must be fully prepared. My program included a state review and I passed with a 92%. When preparing for the state exam, don't go back and reread everything. You'll bore yourself to death. Instead, go over main subjects you had the hardest time with. For instance, my hardest subject was pediatrics. I wasn't comfortable with the scenarios and I would always freeze. To help ease this, I wrote pediatric medication doses down and made myself a memory game. I also went through treatment guidelines and wrote them down. If I still had trouble with a subject, I would go over the subheadings in the chapters and chunk my problems by paragraphs.
I came up with some pretty interesting/wacky ideas for studying. I'm just going to stick with wacky, but it helped.
#1. Get yourself a white shower curtain from walmart. The cheapest one you can find. If you are working on medication doses or contraindications, write them on your shower curtain. Why? By writing them on there, you're helping yourself retain the information and every time you shower, you can look at one or two.
#2. Get a babydoll from the toy section. Let's play doctor! I got myself a babydoll because I was completely uncomfortable with kids. This helped ease scenarios and I could practice anywhere I want with someone reading my protocols. If I missed something, anyone could correct it. In addition, it's cheaper than purchasing a mannequin.
#3. Flashcards. The more you write and quiz yourself, the easier tests will be. Especially for those with test anxiety.
Please let me know your feedback and which path you took!