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What Are the Steps to Becoming a Paramedic?

Paramedics often take the lead as first responders. As such, they’re expected to have comprehensive training and experience, particularly since life and death decision-making rests on their shoulders. Paramedics require strong leadership skills and training that allows them to perform complex life-saving strategies in high-pressure situations. The ability to maintain a clear head to navigate and manage a crisis is vital. 

Becoming a paramedic includes more than just drive and dedication to be an effective first responder. Below are the must-have steps aspiring paramedics need to take.

1. The First Step: Become an EMT

Before you can become a paramedic, you must first be certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Specifically, you must undertake EMT-B (EMT Basic) training and testing. As the name implies, this is the first and the most basic level of EMT training.

Bear in mind that the basic paramedic program is meant to prepare students for the advanced skills and responsibilities that paramedics will eventually need to perform their jobs. Skills learned in a basic program should include patient assessment, opening airways and restoring breathing, controlling blood loss, bandaging wounds, and treating poisoning or burns just to name a few.

After receiving training in these areas, you will be eligible to take the EMT certification exam as well as the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) test.

After passing the exams and earning certification, EMTs can seek employment in the field and start to provide emergency treatment. Often, certified EMTs gain solid work experience before pursuing further training to become a paramedic. This not only provides the field experience, but it also counts towards paramedic program requirements, which stipulate that aspiring paramedics should have worked as an EMT for at least six months.

2. Paramedic Education and Training

As mentioned, the educational requirements to become a paramedic can be quite extensive. However, this shouldn’t put off anyone who has a real desire to pursue the training and is willing to put in the effort.  

Most institutions require aspiring students to complete EMT-B programs within the last 12 months, and school programs vary. HCI’s paramedic program consists of 45 credits to be completed in one year. This covers over four hundred hours of classroom instruction as well as practical hospital and field experience.

Following this, a 540-hour externship must be completed to prepare students to start their careers as EMT-Paramedics. This is intended to deliver hands-on training for real-life crisis and emergency scenarios. It requires paramedic trainees to spend over two hundred hours in a real ambulance and complete at least 160 hours in an emergency hospital setting.

Included in the paramedic training is a comprehensive communication program, as well as deep dives into the ethical and legal considerations that might be experienced on the job.

3. Earning Your Paramedic License

The final step is to take your state’s licensing exam. In all states, paramedics are required to earn their license by passing exams issued specifically to their state of residence as well as the NREMT.

An example exam question from the NREMT (Image Source).

These certifications and exams are challenging as they are meant to determine your readiness and capability as an emergency first responder. The NREMT consists of written and practical exams that cover different areas such as knowledge of medications, patient assessment, and cardiac management.

Take note that paramedics are also required to renew their license every two to three years. This can be done by pursuing continuing education credits or by taking regular refresher courses.

Bottom Line

On your path to becoming the best paramedic you can be, you’ll learn critical skills to ensure you are qualified, more employable, and help you stand out. As a paramedic, you can also opt to pursue other opportunities in the emergency medical services field. There are numerous career opportunities available to those with basic paramedic training, which can be supplemented with further education.

With basic paramedic education, you also get to hone your problem-solving and critical thinking skills and exercise your ability to think on your feet.

Additionally, the potential impact of a paramedic cannot be measured; the lives that you could potentially save while on the job; and the lives that you will change by maintaining the highest quality standards as a paramedic—paving the way towards an extremely rewarding career.

Finally, there will always be a need for skilled paramedics because of the important role they play during emergencies. A paramedic career goes beyond simply doing a job. It’s a way to give back to the community by helping people and being there for them during critical moments. While training to become a paramedic may seem daunting, aspiring paramedics pursue the path because it is immensely rewarding.

If you want to learn more about how to become a licensed paramedic, contact HCI College for more information.