A paramedic is a certified medical professional that provides life saving pre-hospital medical care to individuals who are suffering from often traumatic injuries / illnesses that require immediate attention that cannot wait for hospital intervention.
Paramedics can be found providing pre-hospital trauma life support and emergency medical care in a variety of settings such as at a patients home or work, in a public setting or at the scene of an accident or disaster.
In order to get to these locations paramedics will often operate out of ambulances, helicopters and on cruise ships.
In many cases the vehicles paramedics use to arrive at an emergency and transport patients to an emergency care facility are outfitted with a variety of medical equipment and gear that will allow the paramedic to perform many of the lifesaving functions outside of an emergency care facility in order to save or prolong a patients life long enough to get them to a facility where they can be properly treated.
Paramedics are trained to perform emergency life saving care to individual who are suffering from a wide range of injuries or medical conditions that may require advanced life support.
Paramedics can assess a patients condition, treat severe injuries/illnesses, perform birth deliveries, administer medication and perform many other life saving tasks on the scene of an incident.
The ultimate goal of EMT’s and paramedics is to provide life saving support and ensure a patients safety and care while they are being taken to a nearby hospital or healthcare center that can provide additional medical treatment and emergency care.
Paramedic training & education
Those who aspire to become paramedics must first become certified as an EMT.
In addition to becoming an EMT many paramedic schools require students to spend at least several months gaining experience in the field as an EMT before continuing on to paramedic training.
While training to become a paramedic students will receive extensive training on important medical topics such as:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Airway management
- Advanced life support, advanced cardiac life support, advanced pediatric life support & basic trauma life support
- Neonatal resuscitation
- Emergency trauma care
- Medical terminology
- Medicine & pharmacology
- Emergency/safety protocols
- Medical, Legal & Ethical issues
And a host of other important related topics.
Aside from the medical aspects of paramedic care students must also demonstrate adequate physical abilities, organizational skills, communication skills, leadership qualities and an ability to remain calm and in control in hectic situations in order to display their competence and capabilities as a qualified paramedic.
Paramedic training will require students to complete around 1,100 – 1,800 hours of education or about 12- 24 months of paramedic training based on the state and the educational facilities program requirements.
In addition to classroom education and online study programs students will also be required receive supervised on the job training/internship work at hospitals, healthcare centers, ambulance services and/or fire departments.
Depending on the state or organization students may be required to be 18 years of age and have their high school diploma or G.E.D.
Upon completion of the paramedic training program students must take and pass a state certification exam before being able to work as an official paramedic.
How to find a good program
Paramedic training is taught though a number of colleges, universities and trade schools, however finding a school that matches your needs and will help you succeed in your career the best should be extremely important to you.
When looking for a good paramedic training facility look for a program that has been accredited by an organization that follows strict standards such as the CAAHEP.
Choosing a good accredited program will help ensure that you are receiving the training you need to succeed within the program and in real world situations.
Also be sure to check the schools average success rate within the program.
If you notice two schools within the same area that have completely different success rates try to identify what factors are leading to the large differences and decide if going to the school with a higher success rate is better for you.
There are a number of online resources that will compare the success metrics of multiple programs to help make your decision easier, however make sure that website you are using is also accurate and respected.
If you find a school that you like find out if they offer additional training and/or resources outside of the standard program such as tutors, mentors, after school training and quality video / interactive programs.
The more training you’re able to consume whether it be direct, interactive or visual the better your chances of absorbing and retaining that information will be.
Lastly see how much the program costs for each school what your payment options are.
Compare these costs and options to help you identify whether the cost/payment options available are reasonable or not for your budget.
If you find out that one school is pretty equal in most aspects to another, but much less expensive then it may make sense to go to the less expensive school, which can save you more money now and down the road when you graduate.
Paying for paramedic school
When it comes to paying for the paramedic program there are a number of options you can choose from, depending on the school or financial institutes available to you.
Some of these payment options will include cash, student loans and grants & scholarships.
Each of these options may be used independently or cooperatively to help fund your education and help you become a paramedic.
Cash – If you have the cash than paying for paramedic school may be your best option if you are truly committed and able to finance the program yourself. By paying cash you can eliminate any unnecessary loans and interest charges that are associated with paying over a term and you’ll have the benefit of not having to pay a percentage of your salary out over the term of a loan.
Loans – Loans are a great option for those who aren’t able to pay for the entire program or for those who are a little risk adverse and unsure if becoming a paramedic is right for them. A loan will likely cost more money, but it will allow students to pay it back over time in much smaller increments than if they were to pay the full balance of the program.
Grants & scholarships – Grants and scholarships are a good option for pretty much anyone who wants to become a paramedic as it will help reduce the cost of getting into the program and doesn’t need to be paid back to anyone. Essentially these options help finance your education, partially on the good faith that you’ll return the help in the form of helping others through your work once you become a paramedic.\
Other factors to consider
Aside from paying for paramedic school there are also other financial costs that students will need to consider when entering the program.
These costs can include paying for books, medical equipment such as stethoscopes and supplies, school/work uniforms, and certification and testing fees.
- Uniform & Supplies
- Certification/testing fees
Books – As with most educational programs students are required to purchase books in order for them to learn and study for exams/tests. The cost of books can range anywhere from $25 to several hundred depending on the educational material of the book.
Stethoscope / medical equipment – Those who study to become medical professionals such as registered nurses, EMT’s and paramedics are required to use the same tools they’ll use in the field when they graduate therefore these are tools that students will have to purchase in order to perform some of the tasks within the program.
Uniform & supplies – Uniforms and school supplies are another cost that students will need to consider when entering the program. Your work/school outfit, writing utensils and other supplies are vital for a good overall educational experience and are likely required by the school/program.
Certification / testing fees – Aside from additional school costs those who are taking the paramedic certification exam or other tests will need to pay for these exams in order to get certified and become a paramedic. This may include state and local costs that need to be paid as part of the process for becoming a paramedic.