A medical emergency is almost always a life and death situation. For this reason, becoming a good paramedic is not only influenced by the quality of education and training, although these factors are vital during patient emergency care. One must have also the right qualities and attitudes to effectively and efficiently perform the essential roles and responsibilities given to paramedics in situations where one’s life is at stake.
A good paramedic is someone who can stay calm and rational in times of emergencies. In order to deal with crises and disasters, one must be decisive without becoming imprudent or reckless. It is during this time when presence of mind is just as important as having the right skills and training. Paramedics have to be highly skilled in every situation that is dealt with – no ifs and no buts. Although protocols exist, each emergency is a unique occurrence, so one must be flexible to adapt to these situations. He or she should have the willpower and compassion to care and protect the well-being of others. A good paramedic must also have excellent oral and written communications skills to obtain and convey vital information needed for care and to reassure the patients and their families. In addition, paramedics must be physically fit and to have the agility and dexterity to perform their duties. Paramedics are constantly exposed to all sorts of stress. One must be emotionally stable and resilient to deal with the pressure and tension closely intertwined with the job.
An associate degree in paramedic is completed within two years of education and training. Some vocational or technical schools and community colleges are offering paramedic programs to students who are interested to build a career in this field. Some of these institutions offer paramedic classes online. To check which institutions offer paramedic classes and online courses accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Professions or CoAEMSP and Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or CAAHEP, students can check the Internet for a complete list.
In general, paramedic programs require students to have an EMT-Basic certification before admission. A course in anatomy and physiology is also a pre- or a co-requisite. A paramedic program is composed of four components of instructions: didactic training, skills laboratory, clinical education and field internship. Clinical education is conducted in hospital and field environments. A field internship functions to verify that a future paramedic is a competent practitioner at an entry level.
Preparatory courses include EMS systems, illness and injury prevention, medical/legal issues, ethics, pathophysiology, therapeutic communications, life span development, pharmacology and medication administration. Paramedic classes in airway management and ventilation, patient assessment, trauma, specific body systems, infectious and communicable diseases, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, neonatology, pediatrics, abuse and assault, acute interventions and geriatrics are required for completion. Assessment based operations classes, such as ambulance operations, medical incident command, hazardous materials incidents, rescue awareness and operations and crime scene awareness are also included in the paramedic programs.