There are paramedics everywhere in the United States. Every state has a certifying agency which is usually the Department of Health. This department carries information regarding paramedic certification. Every program consists of several parts:
• Classroom instruction
• Specific hands-on skills
• Internship in an ambulance setting, usually an EMS system
• Internship in a hospital setting, usually in different departments such as the ER, maternity, surgical or cardiac ICU, and/or the psychiatric ward
Each part of the instruction must be passed before applying to take the state test. There is a charge for the test. The Department of Health will be happy to provide this information.
Each state will list the skills for paramedics. A skill that is performed in one state may not be performed in another. For example, paramedics in Seattle, WA, can suture minor wounds. This skill is not accepted for paramedics anywhere else. Paramedics in Seattle, WA, train for three years. This is the longest training program in the U.S.
Most training programs are provided by community colleges, teaching hospital systems and private companies. The charges will vary widely. The student may not be required to purchase a lot of equipment; usually books are the only purchase.
The certification must be renewed every few years. During this time, the paramedic must accrue a specified number of continuing education credits. He or she must take a skills retest as well. Since advances are always being made in the field of paramedicine and rescue, this allows paramedics to be at the forefront of taking care of patients.
Since many paramedic students are working in the EMS field in some capacity while going to classes, scheduling internship time is not a big problem. Each state may require the student to treat, transport and write a report on as many as twenty patients or more. In the hospital setting, blood drawing and starting IV’s are also required. A nurse will sign the student’s form indicating the student has performed the task. In other areas of the hospital, the student may have to participate in/witness a number of births in the maternity ward and write patient evaluations in other departments. This helps the student gain experience in a wide variety of patients.
If a classroom is not available due to proximity or availability, online training might provide an answer. The student’s state may or may not accept online training. It can prove useful to take an online course regardless. When attending state certified classes, the student will have a better understanding of the information.
Opportunities are available for paramedics in several settings. Large corporations, manufacturing plants, theme parks, wilderness rescue, medical offices, EMS systems and more will hire paramedics. Additional training may be required due to the specific employment.
The exciting field of paramedicine is waiting for good men and women to join. Making a difference, saving lives and helping the community is a wonderful career choice. The field is always advancing and work is never boring. A paramedic will never have two days in a row that are exactly alike.