I recently wrote an article regarding paramedics working as EMT’s. To clarify, these are men and women who have put themselves through paramedic school and are working on ambulances as an EMT. My belief is that this person is certainly not maintaining his or her skills. It’s important to realize that when a person is hired with a paramedic license, he will be expected to put your license to work. You must understand that a department expects that you will be “paramedic ready.” THIS IS NOT A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY!
A person who has put themselves through paramedic school and completed a paramedic internship is ready to be placed on a medic rig the day they complete their internship. This is the best they will be (excluding getting experience as a paramedic). For every day that goes by that he or she is not in a paramedic role, it is assumed their skills are deteriorating.
Since you now understand the thought process, imagine how it would come across to have completed paramedic school a year ago and to have not started an IV since the last day of your internship. We understand that you worked for 20 shifts as a paramedic trainee (hopefully not too many more than that). There is no way you have mastered your craft in this minimal amount of training. You were just getting into the groove and you finished training. The chances of you picking up where you left off exponentially decrease with each passing day.
How does this translate to the hiring process? It’s simple. When we hire someone with skills that are stale and out of date, we get complaints from your supervisors and peers. We do not have the luxury to retrain you. That’s why we hired someone with the paramedic license in the first place (remember the paramedic ready phrase?). We simply are not going to hire people who are a work in progress . Our expectation is that you are ready to step into the role of a working paramedic.
I am very familiar with a city who recently gave a firefighter/paramedic exam. In order to apply you had to have been a working firefighter paramedic, or be a fire academy graduate and have a paramedic license. They had 75 people apply for the position. Predictably the department gave a practical exam that consisted of a mega code as well as a medical and a trauma assessment. The results were very disappointing as over 75% of the candidates failed the exam.
The trends were pretty clear and showed that paramedics who are not working were the highest percentage of casualties. Currently employed paramedics are not up on their skills. This is understandable as we all develop habits as working professionals that frequently vary from the established standards. In other words, we know what’s important for our jobs but we often forget what we consider to be the minutia. Ironically the ones who did the best were still in, or fresh out of school.
The challenge of hiring a brand new graduate is that he or she is not a seasoned paramedic and simply does not have the field experience. The challenge with the seasoned paramedic is that they do not pass the practical examination as they have forgotten the “bookwork” part of the exam. One may ask then, “Why don’t we give a test that the seasoned paramedic could pass?” The answer is simple; we need to give an examination that can be validated as being fair and job related. Fire departments are looking to hire paramedic candidates who are a combination of both experience and book smarts.
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Thread: Paramedic exams
05-24-2011, 03:32 PM #1
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
- Southern California
Paramedic examsPaul Lepore
05-24-2011, 10:23 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jul 2007
ER best place to work
I would advice to get a job in an emergency room as a paramedic versus an ambulance/transport company. You learn a lot of tips on doing IV's, and end up doing other skills you would never do in the back of a "box." Not only that, but you get experience in working codes, plenty of trauma, and the routine calls. If you can juggle both ambulance and ER, power to you. I know plenty of people who did, and were hired much quicker than people who just sat and did nothing with their license.
Oh, don't let your LT know that you got plenty of ER experience, b/c you might end up actually being in charge of calls when you first get hired. It a lot more skills/concentration doing IV's, intubating, working codes while en route to hospital than being beside someones bed and the DR calling all the shots.
05-25-2011, 10:24 AM #3
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
- Southern California
I agree that there is a great deal to learn in an emergency room. I did it before I went to paramedic school. There is so much more patient contact that you would get while working on an ambulance. The difference, however, is that working in the field is much more difficult. In the field you do not have the luxury of a sterile environment with good lighting etc.
I agree that a balance of both would be very good preparation.
Good post!Paul Lepore
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