No matter how much you prevent and prepare for medical emergencies, it is during these chaotic times when competent and timely care from trained paramedics plays a crucial part in saving lives and preventing complications which may be equally lethal. Paramedics are the most highly trained professionals who administer pre-hospital medical care and life-support services to individuals who are either injured or sick. Because the chances of one’s survival and the level one’s recovery greatly depend on the skills and judgment of a paramedic, appropriate education and training is required before one can be admitted to this highly dynamic profession.
Paramedic programs are offered by technical schools and community colleges. The program is usually completed after one to two years of training and education, and may result in an associate’s degree. Before admission, students are required to obtain an EMT-Basic certification. A course in anatomy and physiology is a pre- or a co-requisite before entry is usually required by paramedic colleges and schools. Preparatory courses may include classes in EMS systems, illness and injury prevention, medical/legal issues, ethics, life span development, medication administration, therapeutic communication and pharmacology. Paramedic classes focusing on airway management and ventilation, patient assessment, trauma, specific body systems, toxicology, obstetrics and gynecology, infectious disease and psychiatry are also included. Courses that emphasize on assessment-based management operations, such as ambulance operations, medical incident command, hazardous materials incidents and rescue awareness and operations are incorporated into the program as well. In addition to didactic and skills laboratory courses, students are required to complete certain number of hours in clinical education conducted in hospitals and field environments. After completion, students are evaluated through field internship. It is during this stage of the paramedic program that the knowledge and skills of potential paramedics are evaluated to determine whether or not they are qualified to function as paramedics at an entry level.
Anyone who has the passion to save lives and desires of having a rewarding occupation should consider starting a career as a paramedic. In addition to having the chance to make a difference, the job outlook of paramedics in the next 5 to 7 years is favorable, especially those employed in local governments and in metropolitan areas. The growth of demand for paramedics is expected to increase by 9% between 2008 and 2018. The increasing demand for paramedics is mainly due to the expanding aging population. Those included in the baby boom generation are aging, consequently increasing the number of emergency medical situations directly or indirectly caused by aging. The number of emergency situations necessitating immediate medical attention, such as falls, trauma, cardiovascular diseases, cerebrovascular diseases and other chronic illnesses. In addition, because of the changing health care system, the increasing shortage of health care professionals in emergency departments and the increasing number of medical facilities directing towards specialized care, the length of time devoted by paramedics per patient increases. This further increases the need for paramedics to respond to the increasing number of medical emergencies.
In 2008, about 210,700 emergency medical technicians and paramedics are employed in the United States. The opportunities for career advancement are great and favorable for paramedics. With further training, paramedics can become operations managers, supervisors, administrative directors and executive directors of institutions that provide emergency services. Some paramedics may obtain additional paramedic programs and training to become registered nurses or physicians.