How To Become a Paramedic (With Skills and Qualifications)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 23 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A career in the healthcare industry is an excellent choice if you want employment security and availability. Those who wish to work as a medical caretaker but do not want to be a doctor, general practitioner or nurse can consider becoming a paramedic. Being a paramedic can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path. In this article, we discuss what a paramedic does, the necessary skills and qualifications for the role and the steps on how to become a paramedic.

What does a paramedic do?

A paramedic is a certified health care practitioner who offers emergency medical treatment to those who are critically injured or ill. In your role as a paramedic, you're essentially the healthcare experts who arrive first to an accident or emergency and stabilise a patient for safe transport to the nearest hospital or clinic. As first responders, paramedics frequently operate in pairs, with one person driving the ambulance and the other providing care. The team may compose two paramedics or one paramedic and one emergency medical technician (EMT).

As a paramedic, you may expect the majority of your time to be spent on the road responding to emergency calls or transferring patients. You may occasionally work on aircraft and helicopters in addition to ambulances. A paramedic's employment choices are not limited to working in a hospital setting. You can opt to serve as firefighter-paramedics for rescue organisations. Private ambulance services and children's camp programmes may also hire paramedics. Listed below are some daily responsibilities of a paramedic:

  • Staffing and occasionally driving ambulances and other emergency vehicles

  • Checking patients, coming up with diagnoses and giving emergency care and treatment

  • Prioritising and managing treatment and evacuation in multiple incidents

  • Giving pain medication and intravenous infusions

  • Aiding in childbirth

  • Identifying abnormal chest activity

  • Assessing and maintaining the patient's airway

  • Performing basic life support treatments

  • Informing medical professionals at a hospital about a patient's current state and the treatment you've provided

  • Filling in and maintaining patient care records and writing reports for every emergency response

  • Utilising specialised tools and equipment, such as ventilators or defibrillators, during treatments

  • Maintaining all equipment and ensuring that they're in good working condition

  • Maintaining the cleanliness of ambulances and other work environments

  • Replenishing instruments, tools and supplies

How to become a paramedic

If you want to work as a paramedic, you've got to meet specific standards. Outlined below are some steps on how to become a paramedic:

1. Obtain a diploma

The first stage in becoming a paramedic is to obtain your diploma. Completing relevant courses like physiology and paramedicine can provide you with valuable fundamental knowledge for your paramedic profession. If you choose to join the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), you may be able to enrol in a one-year conversion diploma to qualify as a paramedic. Through this course, you can learn to perform pre-hospital patient assessment, undertake procedures relating to ambulance operations, manage emergency cases and give treatment for patients with trauma and medical emergencies.

2. Hold various valid certifications

Before you can begin your paramedic training, you can first obtain EMT-Basic certification, which is the initial level of EMT training. The training usually entails learning how to check vital signs and provide basic life support, such as delivering oxygen and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). While obtaining the certification, you can also study a wide range of non-invasive skills like bleeding control, burn management, detection of spinal injuries and fractures as well as the administration of essential medicines.

You also are required to hold a valid certification in basic cardiac life support (BCLS) issued by a centre approved and accredited by the National First Aid Council (NFAC), the National Resuscitation Council (NRC) or the Singapore Resuscitation and First Aid Council (SRFAC). Additionally, get a certification in the operation of an automated external defibrillator (AED) and first aid by a centre approved by the NFAC or SRFAC. Remember to undergo recertification at least once every two years to keep the validity of your certificates.

3. Gain work experience

Depending on the paramedic training programme you enrol in, you can gain some on-the-job experience to get the certification. Even in cases whereby it's not mandatory, getting practical experience can enable you to build a solid foundation for your paramedic training. You may shadow existing paramedics or reach out to organisations needing volunteers.

4. Finish a paramedic training programme

There's a broad range of paramedic training programmes you can opt for, depending on your ultimate career goal. Through these training programmes, you might be able to get extensive training in cardiology, trauma treatment, patient evaluation, drug administration, airway techniques and patient stabilisation. Field clinical rotations and ambulance runs are also common components of these curriculums.

Where can you study to become a paramedic?

To get your licence as a paramedic, you can pursue your studies in the following institutions:

  • EMS Specialist Certification from SAF Medical Training Institute or Civil Defence Academy

  • Higher National Institute of Technical Education Certificate (NITEC) in Paramedic and Emergency Care

  • Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) Paramedic Academy's ‘Primary Care Paramedic'

  • Diploma or Advanced Diploma in Paramedicine issued by a local institution

  • Any other paramedic qualification as approved by the Director of Medical Services

How much do you earn as a paramedic?

The average annual salary for a paramedic is $41,611. This figure, however, differs according to criteria such as location, level of expertise and organisation type and size. As an illustration, the starting pay for a paramedic officer working in the SCDF ranges from $3,890 - $4,899. The common non-monetary benefits of a paramedic usually include life insurance, eyesight insurance, gym membership, a health savings account, paid leave, childbirth benefits, subsidised medical and dental treatment and tuition reimbursement.

What skills are essential as a paramedic?

Every day, paramedics deal with emergency circumstances. As a paramedic, you ideally ought to cultivate the following soft skills to properly handle the obstacles and demands that come with the job:

  • Strong problem-solving abilities: As the nature of your job is unpredictable, you're recommended to be able to assess the patient quickly, take appropriate action and give the best treatment at the emergency site.

  • Physical stamina and strength: As a paramedic, you're required to be physically strong and dexterous to lift patients and do a lot of kneeling and bending.

  • Ability to stay calm: Your actions and efforts can make the difference between life and death. In difficult times, it's critical that you remain cool and composed.

  • Empathy: You frequently work with patients and their relatives and friends who are in distress. In such turbulent instances, you are to be able to offer emotional support to these people.

  • Robust communication and interpersonal skills: You need excellent communication skills as well as strong interpersonal skills to clearly explain processes to your patients and share critical information with your teams. It's important that you are able to listen to your patients to make an accurate diagnosis and give appropriate therapy.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a Resume

Which is better, an EMT or a paramedic?

Paramedics are highly trained individuals who offer pre-hospital care. A paramedic is the highest degree of prehospital treatment and requires far more extensive training than an EMT. With the vast qualifications, a paramedic can give patients advanced life support before they get to a hospital.

A paramedic is better trained than EMTs in treating acute diseases and injuries and can provide care comparable to that of an emergency medical room. Essentially, a paramedic uses EMT training as a foundation to learn more advanced techniques. For instance, while EMTs may conduct CPR, glucose and oxygen administration, paramedics can undertake more sophisticated operations including inserting IV lines, delivering medications and implanting pacemakers.

Is paramedic a good career?

Making the decision to become a paramedic opens the possibility of a lucrative and fulfilling professional path. By giving care and treatment at an emergency site, a paramedic profession can have a significant effect because of the numerous lives that can be saved while on the job. Paramedics play a major role in keeping patients calm in high-stress situations. Continuously helping people on the job can generate a sense of fulfilment and content. However, be mindful that the profession comes with a high level of pressure, and it may not be suitable for everyone.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article is affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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