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Aspiring paramedics can enroll in an online degree, training or career education program in paramedic care or emergency medical technology. Certificates, associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees are available. Distance learning programs are available in a partially online format requiring some on-campus training and teach students about numerous areas of health sciences relevant to emergency medical care, including anatomy and physiology, biology, cardiology and pharmacology. Students are also educated in elements of patient care, such as transporting patients from accident scenes to emergency units, assessing medical conditions, using portable devices to take vital signs and administering medications.
Students who wish to pursue a fully online program may opt for an emergency medicine certificate. This program is designed for physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who wish to expand their skill base.
How Online Paramedic Programs Work
Online paramedic training programs allow students to attend virtual courses that can be accessed from any physical location with an Internet connection. Most of these programs utilize interactive teaching and learning platform such as Blackboard to present lectures, readings, exams, discussions and assignments.
In addition to theoretical education, however, most states require a certain amount of hands-on training prior to becoming licensed. Therefore, students usually choose online programs offered through institutions that are relatively close to home in order to be able to attend one or several mandatory offline training sessions. Another option is to enroll in an online degree completion program while meeting applied course requirements through an accredited or participating on-site institution or career training program.
Program Levels and Course Topics
Levels of training in this field range from one or more basic certification preparation courses to bachelor's degree programs. As a general rule, studies become more in-depth as degree levels get higher; however, certain features are common to almost all training programs. For example, students typically learn about various types of diseases and physical traumas so that they are able to quickly and accurately diagnose patients' medical conditions.
Students also learn methods of interacting with accident victims and their families, who are often grief-stricken in the face of traumas. They're educated in the proper health and safety provisions for all state-approved paramedic duties, such as electrocardiogram readings or intravenous administration of medication. Finally, as aforementioned, students must spend numerous hours practicing the typical paramedic job duties described above, as well as riding in ambulances and reporting to accident scenes with one or several licensed paramedics.
Certification and Licensure Information
Upon completion of an online paramedic training or degree program, students may take the examinations required to gain emergency medical certification by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, also known as NREMT (www.nremt.org). Online training programs prepare students to become certified as basic or intermediate emergency medical technicians (EMT's) and paramedics. Any student taking the paramedic certification exam must already have earned their EMT certification (www.nremt.org).
In addition to NREMT certification requirements, graduates are also subject to state licensure regulations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all states require paramedics to be licensed, and most deem NREMT-certified paramedics eligible for state licensure, although some utilize their own licensure examinations (www.bls.gov). Both certification requirements and specific job functions vary widely from state to state, so students should check the requirements of the state in which they'd like to practice before enrolling in an online program.
Paramedics are responsible for transporting trauma patients from accident scenes to emergency rooms as well as attending to any medical needs a patient may have while under paramedic care. These may include diagnosing conditions and necessary treatments, taking vital signs and administering medication.
Online paramedic programs utilize interactive teaching and learning platforms which can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection, though an in-person component is usually required. These programs range from certificate to bachelor's degree programs.