Online Degrees in Ems and Paramedic
Quick reaction times to emergency situations such as heart attacks, accidents, serious illnesses or gunshot wounds can sometimes make the difference between life and death. Emergency medical services (EMS) professionals like paramedics, with their broad base of medical knowledge, are responsible for that all-important first response.
There are three basic levels of training for emergency medical providers: EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and Paramedic. Entry-level ambulance personnel generally hold CPR and EMT Basic certifications. With more education and training, EMTs can become paramedics and can perform more invasive medical procedures. The Department of Transportation provides a National Standard Curriculum for paramedic education that shapes EMS paramedic training and education programs.
All 50 states require paramedics to be licensed by passing the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) paramedic exam or a state certification exam; other EMS paramedic requirements such as health checks and immunizations, drug testing, criminal background checks and continuing education vary from state to state. States independently control the length of educational time that is required to progress to the next level of EMT certification, and the procedures paramedics are allowed to perform at each level.
EMS paramedic online degrees are convenient and cost-effective, but they also require a hands-on practical skills assessment component that is only available in-person and is often arranged directly through the online degree program. Programs can last from eight months to four years. Certificates and two-year associate degrees are the primary education required to become an EMS paramedic. Four-year bachelor's degree programs are generally focused on EMS management, research and teaching. Students can usually transfer degree credits to other degree programs such as nursing or pre-med if they decide to seek additional education.
Coursework depends on the educational program, but can include:
- Medical terminology
- Anatomy and physiology
- IV therapy
- Bleeding control
- Immobilization techniques
- Pharmacology and drug administration
- Psychiatric, gynecology and pediatric emergencies
- Trauma and shock management
- Transporting critical care patients
Having a passion for medicine, a solid education and a genuine desire to help people on what could be the worst day of their lives are all components of a successful paramedic. Excellent communication and people skills, the ability to think and problem solve on the fly and the ability to remain calm under pressure all also help EMS paramedics find personal and professional satisfaction.
EMS paramedics can find employment in a wide variety of emergency service settings, including fire and police departments, ambulance services, local and state governments and the military. They can train in law enforcement to work with SWAT teams, work in hospital emergency rooms or transport critical care patients from one facility to another via ambulance or aircraft. EMS paramedics also work in research and often work as the only medical professional in remote areas.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of EMTs and paramedics should grow at about the average rate of all professions at 9 percent from 2008 through 2018. Competition will be greatest going forward for jobs that offer the best benefits and pay--generally in local police, fire and rescue departments. Those who have advanced education could find themselves having a competitive edge in the job market.
EMS paramedics earned a median annual wage of $33,300 in 2010, the BLS reports. Top-paying states for paramedics were District of Columbia ($49,870), Alaska ($48,050) and Hawaii ($47,920).
- There are three basic levels of emergency medical provider certification: EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and Paramedic.
- The District of Columbia, Alaska and Hawaii were the top-paying states for EMS paramedics in 2010
- Maine, Missouri and West Virginia were the states with the highest concentration of EMS paramedics in 2010