The need for modern-day heroes is on the rise. In the United States, there is a growing demand for trained and qualified paramedics at present and in the coming years. The employment of emergency medical technicians and paramedics is expected to increase by 9% between 2008 and 2018. This figure indicates that the growth of job opportunities for paramedics for the next 5 to 7 years is good.
The strong demand is mainly attributed to the increasing needs of the rising aging population. The elderly are more likely to experience medical emergencies, such as falls, cerebrovascular diseases and cardiovascular diseases. The increasing need for paramedics is also due to the changes in the distribution of health and the overall health care system in the last decade. The increasing shortage of healthcare professionals like nurses causes overcrowding in emergency departments. The growing number of medical facilities gearing towards specialized care causes frequent referral to other facilities. These factors consequently increase the time spent of paramedics with each patient. As paramedics spend more time managing and transferring patients, there is an increasing need for more paramedics and emergency medical workers to respond to other emergency situations.
Building a career as a paramedic has been showing great potential in the last few years. In 2008, paramedics and emergency medical technicians held about 210,700 jobs. Most of those employed were assigned to work in larger cities with high number of inhabitants. In smaller towns and in rural areas, the growing need for paramedics is also apparent. At present, these areas mostly depend on unpaid volunteer medical emergency workers. The need for full-time paramedics is expected to rise with the increasing number of volunteers who leave their posts due to economical reasons. The job prospects and salary wages in local governments, such as fire departments, police departments and independent rescue squad departments, are the most favorable. Paramedics working in local governments earn about $27,710 per year. In general, paramedics earn between $27,710 and 23,130 per year.
Paramedic programs offered in technical schools and community colleges are usually completed in one to two years. The program has four components: didactic training, skills laboratory, clinical education and field internship. Paramedic classes include EMS systems, illness and injury prevention, medical/legal issues, ethics, pathophysiology, therapeutic communications, life span development and pharmacology. Paramedic programs also include courses that focus on airway management and ventilation, patient assessment, trauma, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, body systems and infectious disease. Students are also required to complete classes in assessment based operations, such as medical incident command, ambulance operations and rescue awareness. Clinical education in hospitals and field environments train students to apply theoretical knowledge to actual situations and to enhance their skills. Students are closely supervised by trained and qualified instructors during training. Paramedic programs also include field internship, an evaluative phase. In this stage of the program, students are required to integrate everything they have learned during the paramedic program to assure evaluators that they are competent to perform the basic roles and responsibilities of paramedics.