It takes a lot to get through paramedic training because it is a tough job that requires physical stamina, calmness under pressure, medical knowledge, the ability to make quick decisions, and the compassion to be kind to patients even in tough situations. Education requirements for paramedics are intense, and not everyone who begins a program in this field will complete it.
If you can make it through the training to become a paramedic or EMT you will be in good company and you will have what you need to get a career in emergency services. The job outlook for EMTs and paramedics is very positive. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the EMT/paramedic career field is growing much faster than average and will require thousand more trained workers over the next ten years.
All states require that EMT/paramedics complete a secondary course of study to get the training to work in this field. Many of these programs are non-degree programs, but having an associate’s degree in emergency medical technology or paramedics gives you an advantage and allows you to choose from more jobs. In Florida, EMTs and paramedics must be certified by the Department of Health, Division of Medical Quality Assurance. This means passing a certification test no later than two years after the completion of training.
To work in this field, you have to work hard. Getting there is half the battle and it helps to know in advance what to expect, what it takes to make it through paramedic training and to earn a degree. Here are some of the qualities you need to have and skills you need to work on to make your dream career a reality.
You Must Be Prepared to Commit Time to Your Paramedic Training
Paramedic/EMT programs are rigorous and take time because they train you to do a job that is vital. The job requires that specific skills be learned and that you be prepared to put in the time. You cannot simply read a book and learn how to be a paramedic or attend a few months of classes and be able to do the job. A time commitment is necessary for many careers, but even more so for working as an EMT/paramedic.
Are you ready to get through paramedic training? You need to be ready to put in the time it takes to successfully complete courses, go through an externship experience, get your degree, and then pass the test for certification. At City College the associate degree program for emergency medical technicians requires 24 months, a full two years. There are other programs that take less time and require fewer hours of study, but they will only provide you with a basic EMT or Paramedic certificate. A 24-month Associate degree program, on the other hand, will provide you with the life-saving skills set that will allow you to work in any paramedic or EMT position.
Be Prepared to Get Physical during Paramedic Training
This is far from a desk job, and driving in an ambulance is not the bulk of what you will do as an EMT or paramedic. In your paramedic training courses, you will start to learn just how physically demanding this job is. This job is actually physically challenging and not for the weak. You need to be strong, flexible, and in reasonably fit shape to do the work, and that begins in your coursework where you will do hands-on training and skills practice.
As a paramedic or EMT you will be dispatched to various locations to provide medical assistance and to transport people to emergency rooms. When you arrive on the scene you may need to maneuver into tight spaces, climb several flights of stairs, and you will definitely need to lift people on stretchers. To really prepare you for all of this, you will start practicing this physical kind of work at paramedic training schools. Make sure you are in good physical shape, or working toward it, before you enroll.
Paramedic Training Work Requires Quick Thinking under Pressure
Working as a paramedic or EMT isn’t just physically demanding, it will also test your ability to think and to make decisions quickly. When an emergency medical worker arrives on a scene to provide assistance, he or she must first evaluate the situation, determine what the medical needs are, and then prioritize them if there is more than one.
As you train for a career in this field you will be trained to make these quick evaluations and decisions, but you will also be put in situations that allow you to practice them. You will need to be able to work well under pressure during paramedic training so that you will not fold, panic, freeze or make bad choices when you are out on the job, helping real people with real medical emergencies.
Are You Compassionate?
This is a skill that cannot be learned, but it is so important during paramedic training because it’s what drives people who work in these kinds of service fields. If you do not feel compassion or kindness for other people, getting through the training and the type of work that follows will be more than challenging; it may even feel impossible.
Compassion is not a learned skill, but it can be cultivated through learning to empathize. EMT/paramedic training requirements may not include classes on compassion and empathy, but you can work on these on your own. Try to see things from the perspective of the people you are helping. Imagine how frightening it must feel to be sick or injured and unsure of what will happen next. Use that empathy to be kind and compassionate to the people you help and you will have the potential to become an excellent paramedic.
Paramedic Training Will Test Your Communication Skills
From compassion and quick thinking to physical fitness, there are so many skills and qualities that are important to being a paramedic or EMT. You also need to be good at communicating. And this doesn’t mean only the ability to tell your partner what you are doing next or the patient what he or she needs to do to allow you to help, although that is important too. A big part of communication as a paramedic is listening.
You must be able to listen to the person you are trying to help. You will find yourself in some challenging situations with lots of distractions and you have to be able to hear and listen to the patient so you know what is wrong and how to help. You will need to start practicing this valuable skill during paramedic training and then cultivate it as you begin working in the field.
You’ll Have to Test Your Chops in a Real Externship
All of the work you do in paramedic training is important and will be a big part of making you successful in this line of work. But to get through to the end and to earn that degree you will actually have to put all that hard work to the test. You will have to show that you are physically fit, that you can make quick decisions, that you can be kind to patients, and that you can communicate and listen, as you will have to do all of this in real-life paramedic and EMT situations.
A crucial component of your emergency medical services training is the externship. This means that you will spend time working for a hospital, trauma center, ambulance service, police department or local fire and rescue service. You will have to test your skills and knowledge in these real world settings and do it in front of professionals who will be evaluating you. It is a tremendous amount of pressure, but if you can clear this hurdle you will have proven that you have everything it takes to pass paramedic training and to work in the field of emergency medicine.
The work of a paramedic is unique and challenging. You will get your first sense of just what it entails as you begin your paramedic training courses. Not everyone can devote the time it takes to study these skills; not everyone has the physical or mental stamina to do the work; not everyone can go into a difficult emergency situation and remain level-headed. If you can do all these things you have a chance to join an exciting and important career field.
City College’s 27-month emergency medical services degree program provides comprehensive and hands-on EMT/paramedic training for those people who feel they have what it takes to thrive in this coursework and have a successful career saving lives. You can be a part of the program at any one of the five campuses: Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Miami, Hollywood, and Altamonte Springs.