The bachelor's degree programs described in this article are typically designed for licensed paramedics. To become a paramedic, an individual must complete specialized training and pass an examination. Some programs may offer certification preparation courses for aspiring paramedics. Majors with paramedic courses include emergency health services and emergency medical care and health sciences.
These programs require four years of full-time study, but most are completion programs, designed for students who already hold an associate's degree. Some online programs require that students travel to a testing center for proctored exams. Students also must make arrangements with an emergency services department near their homes for field experience requirements.
A bachelor's degree program for paramedics covers advanced topics in paramedicine, with courses in patient examinations, airway management, trauma services, flight medicine and pharmacology. Other courses may cover leadership development, human resources management, medical informatics and legal issues in paramedicine.
Bachelor's Degree in Paramedicine
Bachelors of Science (B.S.) programs can take several forms, including a B.S. in emergency health sciences, a B.S. in emergency medical care or a B.S. in health sciences with a concentration in paramedic care. They typically require applicants to be qualified paramedics and are described not as degrees in paramedicine, but rather degrees for paramedics.
Program Information and Requirements
Typically, graduation requires four full-time years in which to complete at least 120 semester credits. Many programs are completion degrees, requiring applicants to have previously completed a 2-year associate's degree or equivalent, preferably in the health sciences.
Candidates not already licensed or certified in paramedicine may also have to complete certification requirements and an examination. Most online 4-year paramedicine programs allow the transfer of previously earned credits from accredited schools to be applied towards the B.S. degree.
Distance learning students need access to a computer with reasonable graphic and sound capabilities, as well as a fast Internet connection. This allows them to view lectures, participate in classes, receive and turn in assignments, communicate with faculty and complete examinations.
Some colleges help students find local exam proctors, or require students to travel to the home campus occasionally for special events or final exams. Students may need to find clinical partners for emergency services fieldwork.
The curriculum generally offers an advanced review of paramedicine. Other medical subject areas include human diseases, electrocardiography, pharmacology, flight medicine, trauma management, medical informatics and emergency services management. Clinical fieldwork is often included. Coursework may include:
Physical Exam and History
Establishing a patient's condition and history, and communicating that information efficiently, is key in providing emergency care. Students learn procedures for obtaining a complete history and conducting a physical exam under less-than-optimal circumstances.
Paramedics must ensure a clear airway in patients. Students learn to recognize the reasons for failed airways, such as pulmonary edema, asthma or foreign bodies, and practice specific treatments for each.
This course covers drugs used in emergency medicine, routes and procedures for their administration and how to calculate dosages. Also included are side effects, indications, contraindications and various drug interactions.
The course presents strategies to assess a complex emergency situation and prioritize medical care based upon available resources. Students are given simulated opportunities to think quickly and act decisively.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), employment for paramedics was projected to grow 7% from 2018-2028, above the average growth for all U.S. jobs, due in part to care of the growing elderly population. In 2016, PayScale.com listed annual salary ranges of $32,000 - $69,000 for paramedics and $43,000 - $83,000 for paramedic supervisors.
Continuing Education Information
Students not already certified or licensed as EMT-Paramedics prior to entering an online bachelor's program are usually required to obtain training and certification shortly thereafter. Certification is conducted by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (www.nremt.org), and applicants must be EMT-Basic certified, complete an accredited U.S. Department of Transportation paramedic program and pass a battery of tests. Certification lasts for two years, and may be renewed through a combination of health care experience, continuing education credits and testing.
Online bachelor's degree programs in paramedicine are typically designed for students who are already working paramedics and cover topics such as performing physical exams, managing trauma, and pharmacology. Certification must be renewed every two years through health care experience, continuing education credits and testing.