If you become a paramedic, you’ll have opportunities to be of great service to society. Paramedics treat patients in emergency situations.
While the job will put you in high stress and often tragic situations where you’ll be required to think on your feet and act quickly, it can be extremely satisfying to save lives. If that’s what you’ve decided to do, it’s a brave choice for which you deserve a shout out.
Paramedics arrive first at the scene, work with ambulances or their own emergency-response cars, and they are highly skilled at their job. They may work to resuscitate patients, administer oxygen, administer medication, use intravenous drips and defibrillators, drive emergency vehicles, make clinical decisions, and work alongside rescue services and healthcare professionals.
If you’ve decided you want to be a paramedic, then you’ll be pleased to know there are several ways to become one. Not all of them involve going to university for a degree program in paramedic science.
Go the EMT Route
EMTs may support paramedics and often offer entry-level care in emergency situations. You could also be the first responder to a car crash, a health failure at home, and other emergencies. EMTs receive a high median salary, just the same as paramedics, although paramedics tend to have more opportunities for professional growth.
In the US, community colleges and technical institutes offer EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training in six-month to two-year programs. You’ll typically go through 120 to 150 hours of a mix of theoretical and practical, hands-on training to handle emergency situations and patient assessments. There is EMT-B (basic), EMT-I (intermediate) and EMT-Paramedic level certifications on this career path.
At trade school in the UK, EMTs go through a level 4 apprenticeship, which is typically equivalent to the first year of a degree at a university. Clearly, you enjoy advantages over a university student studying paramedic science, since at trade school you gain experience in the industry along with the qualification you want.
To qualify for an EMT program, you typically need basic general education, a C1 driving license, physical fitness, and a character that fits the job. Your EMT training will take about 12 to 18 months in the UK. After training, you can join the ambulance service and study further to become a paramedic.
In Australia, you’ll need to get a bachelor’s degree in Paramedic Science for 3 years in order to work in public services, so it’s advisable that if you want to avoid going to university, head to the UK or the US.
As always, when you enrol in a program abroad, make sure the qualifications you receive will be valid in the country you want to eventually work in. All your credits at an EMT course in the US would become worthless if you want to study further as a paramedic in Australia.
Depending on where you study, you may need to pass an exam to get certified. In the US, the test is administered through the National Registry of EMTs (NREMT). You have three chances to pass this test and need to recertify every two years.
Many paramedic programs may require you to work as an EMT for 6 months before you can apply, especially in the US. You can go through the EMT Basic and EMT Intermediate programs before signing up for the EMT-Paramedic program.
Become a Student Paramedic
Another option in many countries, such as the UK, is to join as a student paramedic with an ambulance service. You may need to have some driving experience, good fitness, and academic qualifications (at least 5 GCSEs) with a lot of science content.
Such programs are competitive and there are many students who apply with higher qualifications. Recruitments are also held about once a year or once in two years.
Get a Diploma in Paramedic Science
In many cases, such as in Australia, it is a better idea to study a Diploma in Paramedic Science if you want to work in the private sector. You can study online at your own pace and receive a level 5 qualification on the AQF.
A Diploma will get you a job as a paramedic in the private sector, in fast-growing pre-hospital emergency care. You can always use the Diploma to study further if you choose to study further.
Instead of an online diploma (which is nationally recognised), you can also do a full-time diploma in a TAFE classroom for about 12 to 18 months. Choose a reputed institute so you have higher chances of getting a job in the private sector.
In the US, you can complete an EMT certificate program of one to two years and prepare to pass the licensing exam. You’ll be taught basic life support procedures, such as how to perform CPR, manage patient airways, stabilize patients after an emergency, patient assessment, etc. After EMT certification, you can also go on to enrol in associate degrees.
Obtain a Degree Apprenticeship in Paramedic Science
The degree apprenticeship program in paramedic science in the UK lets you apply for an apprenticeship position with a healthcare provider. But with all the programs in the UK, you’ll need some experience volunteering or in paid positions.
For instance, your hours at the British Red Cross or St. John Ambulance will count towards your application. When you’ve completed an HCPC-approved program in the UK, you can apply for registration. As with most vocational qualifications, you’ll need to keep your skills and knowledge updated to keep your name on the registry.
There are many ways to become a paramedic without going to university, with options to study around the world. Choose the best option for you based on where you want to work and your plans for the future.
A qualification that is recognized in one country may be worthless in another. Make sure that you do research relevant to your particular situation before you decide what program to enrol in.
Some countries, like Germany, have their own system of emergency services, with different roles and responsibilities than the EMT or paramedic in the US or UK. Keep these in mind when you carry out your research into the best program for you.