Is Becoming a Paramedic Hard?

Training as a paramedic undoubtedly takes time, commitment, and effort, from paramedic school to sitting for the NREMT examination and physical psychomotor testing process.

Paramedic test prep, on average, requires two years of professional training and roughly 1,200 to 1,800 hours learning a broad range of skills, techniques, procedures, and assessment approaches to respond to any emergency scenario.

While there are many benefits of being a paramedic, those who aspire to a career in the highest tiers of emergency medicine must be calm under pressure, possess a broad scope of clinical knowledge, and be able to make fast decisions in sometimes very stressful situations.

The Process of Training to Be a Licensed Paramedic

Any qualified paramedic working as a first responder has passed rigorous testing requirements, with the ability to deliver advanced life support (ALS), administer medications and IV fluids, perform respiratory and resuscitation procedures, and assess and transport trauma patients.

They must demonstrate a complete grasp of the paramedic care principles and practice standards through the NREMT examination mechanism, with both computer-adaptive tests and practical assessments.

Once paramedics have completed their studies and work experience requirements, they are responsible for making decisions involving complex life-saving scenarios while communicating with other team members and making on-the-spot judgment calls.

Let’s walk through the steps you will need to follow if your ambition is to become a paramedic.

Gaining an EMT Qualification

The first phase is to achieve EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) certification. Similarly to the more advanced paramedic training, you will need to attend a formal course or program, typically spending around six months completing between 120 and 150 hours of professional training.

Following this training and test preparation, you must take the NREMT examination and apply for the relevant state licensing.

As an EMT, you can gain practical experience working within healthcare services or as part of an ambulance crew. Many EMTs work alongside paramedics, gaining the additional training necessary to progress.

Depending on the paramedic school or course you apply to, you may need to meet eligibility criteria requiring a minimum period of professional experience–often six months–as an entrance requirement.

Progressing From an EMT to a Paramedic

Most paramedics embark on a two-year degree course or formal paramedic training program. Some programs will have several prerequisites, which might include the following:

  • A diploma or equivalent qualification in biology
  • Minimum grades or educational achievements in math and English

Courses vary, with many comprising training within a classroom environment alongside experience working within hospitals, emergency departments, and ambulance services, studying physiology, anatomy, ALS, trauma life support, and advanced pediatric life support.

Achieving a Paramedic License

After completing your training, you must conduct thorough NREMT test prep–a key component in gaining a passing mark, which many overlook, contributing to the high failure rates.

You have three attempts to pass, at which point you must access further training or study programs before reapplying. Along with the computer-based examination, you must also pass a physical assessment, working through different stations against a time limit.

Finally, you must apply to the relevant licensing body within your state to achieve a license and commit to renewing your certification once every two years, either by retaking the cognitive test or otherwise demonstrating sufficient continuing education.

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