While a two-year associate's degree program for emergency medical personnel is the most common educational path, shorter paramedic certificate programs are widely available. Applicants may need to have basic EMT certification to enroll in either type of program, though some associate's programs include basic EMT certification. Associate's degree programs include general education coursework along with emergency medical technology coursework. Certificate programs often include only paramedic courses. Hands-on training is usually provided through labs and clinical placements.
Here are some common topics in paramedic courses:
- Administering medication
- The circulatory system
- Cardiac arrest
- Airway management
- Pulmonary diseases
- Drug terminology
- Spinal injuries
List of Classes
Paramedic Fundamentals Course
A paramedic is an emergency responder that provides care to patients while in transport to the hospital or other health facility. This course gives a basic overview of paramedic duties. Students will learn some of the first steps in providing emergency care, such as gathering patient history, assessing the situation and stabilizing the patient. A paramedic fundamentals course may be taken during different times in the program; first at the beginning as an introduction and later toward the middle or end of the program to discuss advanced techniques and procedures.
Pharmacology for Emergency Responders Course
Pharmacology is important for paramedics, because the topic covers how medication may affect illness or injury and what doses are appropriate in various situations. In this course, students learn methods of medication administration that include intravenous dosing, injections and inhaled treatments. Students may also learn how to asses a patient who may currently be taking medication and what emergency treatment options can be combined with such medications. Drug terminology, pulmonary diseases and management of airways may also be covered.
Emergency Cardiovascular Management Course
The cardiovascular system has to do with a patient's heart, blood and circulatory system. Some paramedic programs may even combine this course with topics of the respiratory system. In any case, topics covered may include airway management, ventilation, cardiovascular disorders and pathophysiology. Students will learn appropriate methods of care for cardiac emergencies, including management of cardiac arrest and monitoring 12 lead EKGs (electrocardiograms). Upon completing of this course, some schools may even offer certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support or ACLS.
Trauma and Patient Management Course
In emergency situations, patients may be unresponsive, hostile or momentarily out of sorts. In this class, which is typically taken first at the basic level and then at a more advanced level, students study treatment and care of patients relating to specific emergency situations. Topics may include uncontrolled bleeding, head injuries, abdominal injuries or trauma affecting multiple systems of the body. At the more advanced level, students will study procedures for dealing with patient burns, spinal injuries or orthopedic injuries.
Clinical Practicum Course
This course is a main requirement for paramedic certification. In a hands-on setting, students practice their paramedic skills under the supervision of a preceptor. Their ability to assess patients and manage stress in the pre-hospital environment is continually assessed by their supervisors.