Become a Paramedic

Attending paramedic class without preparation is like running a 5K race and then signing up for a marathon. Just as athletes need to prepare to meet the marathon challenge, EMTs should prepare for the challenging paramedic course ahead. Following are some ways to prepare for attaining paramedic certification.

Make Learning a Habit
Life-long learning should be a goal of all EMS practitioners. Patient care is a leading motivator and can be the foundation for motivating you to succeed in your paramedic education. To develop your knowledge base for paramedic training, attend rounds in the ED or CE classes for paramedics. Read EMS journals and find a physician or nurse mentor. The bottom line is, life learning of any type makes for a rewarding life and a path to personal excellence.

Decide How You Will Study
Do you prefer listening to podcasts or reading a textbook? Do you prefer online learning or using index cards and writing notes from a textbook? Before starting paramedic school, understand how you will study and where. Below are five tips for studying in paramedic school:

  • Know your peak time for studying
  • Understand the global picture for each topic
  • Use downtime at work to listen to tapes and/or review flash cards
  • Load notes and PowerPoints on your phone for easy access
  • Study the material, review and self-quiz to make the information part of your long-term memory.

Prioritizing Your Time
To succeed in paramedic school, you will need to develop study skills and use your time as wisely as possible. The two best ways to take control of your time are to analyze time-stealing activities and learn to say no to activities that interfere with your goals. Prioritize tasks and stick to your goal of finishing medic school. It's also important to find time to spend with family, to rest and lead a balanced life. Paramedic class is of no use if you reach certification but have ruined your personal life.

Develop a Solid BLS Foundation
EMT knowledge is the basis of prehospital care. Review core EMT topics and make sure you have a current edition of the EMT and AHA texts and local protocols. Topics to master before medic class begins include: cardiac anatomy and emergencies; AHA CPR standards/AED operations; medical emergencies; history and physical exam technique; OB emergencies; and trauma. Mastering these key areas will give you a solid foundation on which to learn ALS topics.

Selecting a Paramedic Program
When selecting a paramedic program, consider the type of course, accreditation, clinical rotations, reputation and how the program will fit your schedule. If you want to develop your college education, attend a college credit-bearing program. If you want only the paramedic training, a continuing education program may be better for you. If your time is limited or you have to travel a long distance, consider a hybrid program, which combines distance learning and classroom sessions. Deciding which program to attend often comes down to time, money and the type of education you seek. Invest the time to research paramedic programs and develop the learning skills you will need to successfully complete paramedic training.