Becoming a paramedic is a challenging and highly competitive profession. Paramedics are employed by hospitals, fire stations and other medical care facilities. They are required to be able to take care of patients in often high stress and emergency situations by assessing the patient's condition, transferring them to a hospital, and providing initial response care. Becoming a paramedic requires several steps involving courses and experience at various levels of emergency response training. The first level is getting certified as a First Responder, which is followed by EMT courses and certifications, and finally Paramedic school. In addition to this process, there are also courses you can take through community colleges that will help move you towards a career as a paramedic.
First Responder Level
The First Responder course is generally a single course that can last anywhere between one week and several months depending on how the course is set up. Topics covered at the First Responder level include advanced first aid and CPR, anatomy and functions of the body, lifting and moving patients, patient assessment, triage, and medical emergencies.
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Level
EMT courses expand on topics covered in the First Responder course, and are much more detailed. EMT courses come in the form of accelerated programs or college-type courses that meet only a couple of times a week and can range anywhere between 12 weeks and 24 months. In addition to lecture portions of the course, generally hands-on training and/or internships are required to complete EMT training.
Paramedics are at the highest level of emergency medicine and are able to perform a wide range of duties. During paramedics training, course topics include specific emergency medicine scenarios, all of the systems of the body, anatomy as well as drugs and their administration.
Helpful Courses Outside of Emergency Medicine
If you are not planning on enrolling in the courses already mentioned but would like to prepare yourself for what you will experience in paramedic school, there are many classes that can benefit you. Employers like to see a high quality education and a variety of courses taken that shows you have experience relating to emergency medicine. Health science and related classes such biology, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology are all classes commonly available at community colleges and universities that will add to your potential as a future paramedic.