EMT required for paramedic?

Yesterday I was listening to the EMS Educast episode on Mike Ward’s article EMT not needed for paramedic certification on EMS1.com.

I use to have very strong opinions regarding prerequisites for a paramedic program. I thought that an EMT certification plus one year experience should be required.

Now I have to wonder why would we require paramedics to be EMTs prior to being paramedics? Do nursing programs require a LPN certification before becoming an RN (Yes, actually there are some nursing programs out there that make you sit for your LPN before moving on to the RN)? Are doctors or physician assistants required to be paramedics, nurses or medical assistants before enrolling in medical school or a PA program? Not that I know of, you can have no experience in medicine and still get in to med school, so why are EMS educational programs sticking with the antiquated EMT before paramedic path?

I believe that the right paramedic program can take someone with no medical experience and turn out paramedics. That is the catch, the right program. Most paramedic programs around me assume that the potential students are all EMTs and they take the knowledge that the EMTs are suppose to have for granted, although not every EMT has maintained their knowledge base to make it practical. The instructors spend time reviewing information that the EMT should know, so what was the purpose of requiring EMT certification for entry to the paramedic program?

Some EMTs want to become paramedics, but not all. We need to rethink how we educate the providers, paramedics are doing more and we need to be able to educate them to be able to provide out of hospital care in to the future.


About Joel

I am a paramedic, firefighter and I work for an organ procurement organization. All stories related to work have been altered to HIPPA standards and for the protection of those involved. The personal stories are different. Photography, flying, aviation, hiking, camping, travel, geocaching, amateur radio are a few of my hobbies.
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2 Responses to EMT required for paramedic?

  1. chymiller says:

    As a Program Director and based on program data and anecdotal experiences, the conversation on this issue always seems to miss the mark. For us, EMT is to paramedic as what the MCAT or advanced science courses are to physician education. It’s simply seems to be the most, not precise, but appropriate winnowing process available to hopefully identify who’s prepared and who’s not for a more time consuming, costlier and harder program called paramedic. I’m okay with not requiring EMT, but the question will still be “How do we winnow!”

    • yourtaxishere says:

      I am a paramedic field training officer as well as a skills instructor in a few paramedic schools. I observe that the new paramedics that have EMT experience are the students that transition easier than the ones with no field experience. The ones with no EMT experience either take longer or fail their internship or county accreditation. I feel it is a necessary step in their education. It teaches them how to communicate with patients and members of the team. It gives them experience driving an ambulance and using the radio if they are working on an ambulance. It helps them learn a street sense before being thrown into their internship. The paramedic school, no matter how prestigious, cannot teach these things.

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