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Online EMS Schools: Info on How to Choose a School

Learn about important considerations when selecting an online emergency medical services (EMS) school. Keep reading to get an overview of the program options, the limitations of an online course, and common courses offered for the field of study.

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Review this article to learn more about what to look for when looking at EMS schools. Although all basic EMS programs have on-campus requirements, many schools offer online courses, and prospective students should review them to find one that meets their needs.

How to Select an Online EMS School

Students considering online EMS schools must make their decision based on several key factors. Emergency medical services personnel are usually the first responders to the scene of accidents, injuries and other medical emergencies. Full degree and certificate programs in emergency medical services are not available online, though continuing education courses for current EMS professionals are available as well as refresher courses. Students should then consider scheduling requirements.

Applicability of Coursework

All states require emergency medical services providers to attend on-campus certificate or degree programs to become licensed and work in the field. However, many states require EMS providers to undergo continuing education, and these courses are available online. Before enrolling in an online emergency medical services course or program, students should check their state's requirements for emergency medical services providers to ensure that a given course meets their needs.

Format and Time Requirements

Normally, EMS programs that have online components are offered in flexible form to allow students to work while still completing their class work. Common delivery methods include streamed online video for lectures and demonstrations, online testing software and textbooks. Students and teachers communicate individually and as a class through voice or video conferences, message boards and e-mail. Different classes provide different mixes of these tools. Prospective students may want to consider the formats before enrolling, to ensure they are comfortable with the format and scheduling requirements.

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Online Program Options in Emergency Medical Services

Online Continuing Education EMS Courses

Online continuing education courses for emergency medical services professionals are available as both general refresher classes and in specific subject areas within the field. Courses are available in a wide variety of subjects, including poisons, kinematics of trauma, bleeding and behavioral emergencies. The online courses last several hours to one week and often times require passing a test to earn continuing education units (CEUs). Other topics available include:

  • Medical-legal issues
  • Hazardous materials
  • CPR
  • Infections

Schools with Online Programs in Emergency Medical Services

EMT students at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) can take courses that include live online evening sessions and self-paced interactive assignments. Students need to be on campus for eight skills instruction days and participate in two 12-hour ambulance ride-alongs. After completing the training students should be prepared for EMT certification.

The George Washington University offers an online Master of Science in Health Sciences (MSHS) in Emergency Medical Services Leadership. This graduate program is for EMS students who have a bachelor's degree and looking to advance their career into a leadership position. As such it focuses on EMS management.

Though all states require students wanting to become EMS technicians to complete on-campus requirements, there are some schools that offer a few of their basic training courses online or offer online continuing education courses. Experienced personnel may want to look into master's programs that are offered entirely online.

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