Due to the hands-on clinical training required to work in emergency medical services, associate's degree programs in the subject are not typically offered online. There are a few schools with associate's degree programs in emergency medical services that provide classes both online and on campus. Students may also attend on-site courses on weekends or evenings. However, some programs may be available completely online, provided that students are licensed paramedics before enrolling.
These programs can prepare graduates to work as emergency responders in a number of settings, including hospitals, fire departments, and private companies. The program can also lead to more advanced opportunities in nursing and may pave the way for a bachelor's degree. Students typically must already hold required Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) licensure before starting the program and will need up to date vaccination records.
Associate's Degree in Emergency Medical Services
An associate's degree program in emergency medical services typically takes two years to complete taking courses full time and prepares students for state certification required to work in the field. Students can take courses in anatomy and physiology, life support techniques, emergency response, and medical ethics.
Program and Requirements
Students typically need a high school diploma or equivalent to enroll in an associate's degree program in emergency medical services. Additionally, some programs require students to have basic healthcare certification, along with EMT-Basic training and experience. Students planning on working in emergency medical services should be physically fit and be up to date on vaccinations.
In addition to core medical training courses, an associate's degree program provides students with an additional background in general education courses, such as English and math. The following are some common courses found in an associate's degree in emergency medical services.
Anatomy and Physiology
An anatomy and physiology course introduces students to the organs, systems, and functions of the human body. The course covers topics in cell structure and development, tissue, bones, and medical terminology.
This class covers the basic techniques used by emergency medical service providers. Students learn about the theories and applications of life support procedures, such as CPR, clearing obstructed airways, and cardiovascular life support.
Emergency Medical Technician
An Emergency Medical Technician-Basic course covers a number of aspects in emergency healthcare, such as physical and mental well-being, legal issues, and ethics. Students also learn about cardiopulmonary resuscitation, airway management, and working with victims of different ages, among other topics.
A microbiology course explores microorganisms, their growth, and their role in the spread of infectious diseases. Students also learn about the field of biotechnology and the development of antibiotics and vaccines for disease treatment and prevention.
With population growth, job opportunities for emergency medical technicians and paramedics are expected to grow by about 24% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Salaries for those working in this field vary depending on the specific job position and location. In 2016, the median salary for paramedics was $44,640, while the median salary for emergency medical technicians with basic training was $30,443, according to Payscale.com.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates working in emergency medical services may find opportunities for advancement to supervisory or administrative positions with experience, while others may move on to teaching or work with medical equipment. Graduates may also pursue additional education at the bachelor's degree level in emergency medical services, or pursue another field, such as nursing.
While it is difficult to find fully online programs for EMS education, there are many options for hybrid programs in the field, blending online study with in-person clinical work and practical exercises; fully online programs are only available to licensed EMTs. Earning this degree can offer many opportunities for advancement in the field or act as a foundation for additional bachelor's education in the same or similar fields.