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ma2359

Paramedic Degree Requirement

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There has been a lot of chatter on social media regarding a degree requirement for Paramedics to be eligible for certification.   What are your thoughts on this?

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Guest Kate

If a degree is going to be required then someone needs to find the funds to actually pay paramedics a living wage. It’s pitiful how poorly these people are paid.

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Oh here we go on this site.  It's all over facebook - truly strong feelings about this subject.  

 

Let's keep it civil and factually appropriate - no emotions please.  That's what has derailed most of the facebook threads - emotions and emotions don't make facts.  

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I agree that emotions can take away from the facts, but we must also recognize that this is an emotional issue. 

But as far as facts, what is creating the momentum to have Paramedics degreed?

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<--- Has an EMS degree.

EMS-ers have long complained that they are viewed as the "red-headed step children" or whatever industry they're trying to pawn themselves off to on that given day.  Unfortunately, many are unwilling to do what it takes to change their circumstances.

Want to be taken seriously?  Create entry standards that are more challenging than becoming a barber.  Want to be taken seriously?  Require basic education standards that go beyond a high school diploma.  Want to be taken seriously?  Create entry standards that show that those pursuing this as a career give a damn about what they're doing.

Fix EMS education and it will have a positive impact on every single other problem facing EMS in the US.

Every.

Single.

One.

 

 

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@paramedicmike , I do not disagree with you.   But how does the process get started?  If we require new EMTs to have degrees or to attend programs that require substantially more education and course work the industry risks a decline in new EMTs entering the profession.  In many areas, there is a shortage of EMTs already.

Thoughts?

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I agree with Mike with a higher standard of education will come with more respect as a profession. With this I believe salaries will improve as well. I have an an AAS in Paramedic Technology, In the US that only really helps you in two states: Oregon where a degree is required to be a paramedic and Texas which leads to being licensed instead of Certified but you can work as a certified Paramedic. If you look at some international systems a lot have higher standards. For example in Canada where pay can be 2 to 3 times what it is here, just to become a Primary Care Paramedic, which is their equivalent to the US EMT-B it is required to obtain a 2 year degree once complete and after 3 years of experience they can move on to Advanced Care Paramedic which is an additional year of training. Places in New Zealand and Australia require a Bachelor Degree to obtain empoyment as a Paramedic.

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@emt2359 Where you are right there is a shortage in some areas but in most of those areas are volunteer run agencies. I have seen a lot of these areas moving to a paid staff. part of EMS's problem in the US I feel is Volunteerism in Emergency Services. With a wage increase and more opportunities will bring more people quality providers to the field. EMS needs to be viewed more as a Career, not a hobby 

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Just a bit of insight / opinion from one of those non-US degree requiring countries..

I just spent that last 25minutes trying to articulate the merits of having a degree in EMS, however, both my rationale and frustration cannot be summarised in a single online post so I'll just agree with what Mike already said.

One quick point to consider...when you look at some of the better known services in the US (medic one, wake co, Boston, etc), what are these services doing that have people are standing in line for jobs and what type of people are willing to put in the effort vs an easy employment mom and pop provider or even a well paid fire/medic job?

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22 hours ago, emt2359 said:

@paramedicmike , I do not disagree with you.   But how does the process get started?  If we require new EMTs to have degrees or to attend programs that require substantially more education and course work the industry risks a decline in new EMTs entering the profession.  In many areas, there is a shortage of EMTs already.

Thoughts?

This is an excellent question.  I'd argue that we don't need to reinvent the wheel.  I'd also argue that this will not be an overnight fix.  It will take time and will require patience.

As loathe as I am to make this comparison look at nursing.  Nursing used to be a diploma or certification only educational program.  Now it's at least an associates program.  It some places nursing jobs are only available to BSN applicants.  It didn't happen overnight for them.  It won't happen overnight for us.

For EMS I think NREMT has sort of started this process.  Paramedic programs need to be accredited (as of 2013) by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs.  This is a good first step.  It's been this way for six years now.  The next step might be to require accreditation at a degree awarding institution by a certain date.  Then require new those earning new certifications after a certain date hold at least an associates degree.  It'll be a multi-step process undertaken over years to make the change.  There will probably be some grandfathering in of older providers and/or a grace period during which providers will need to complete a bridge course of sorts (similar to the RN to BSN programs that are out there).  There will be push back from old school EMS-ers (No degree is going to help me start that IV any better!) and fire departments (What do you mean our medic mill that pushes out paramedics from a condensed program only so they can ride an engine isn't good enough?).  Like old school nurses and old school nursing diploma programs, they will lose.

As to why there is a shortage in some areas you have to look at a larger picture.  Is there a shortage of just EMS-ers?  Or is there a shortage of everything else?  RNs?  Docs?  PAs/NPs?  Access to basic services?  Why is that?  In a lot of cases because it's rural and there's little incentive to undertake the effort.  Stop relying on the volunteer aspect which, ultimately, cheapens us all and accurately value the services provided by educated EMS providers.  Do this and I think you'll see a change in the shortage.  (Maybe not fix entirely, but certainly lessen the shortage.)

Under no circumstances am I arguing this will be easy.  It won't be.  There will be a lot of push back from a lot of entrenched special interests.  Until we fix education, however, nothing will change.  Fix education, align ourselves as legitimately educated, degreed, licensened *MEDICAL* providers and not some haphazard add on to another public safety agency, and every problem currently facing EMS will go away.

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