1. #1
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    Default Paramedic school question/feedback

    Hi Forum,

    I planned on going for my Medic this coming fall. I recently found out I am going to be a dad and the child is due in December. I would be starting school in September for classroom work and then clinicals etc. My question is do I make the move and do it now risking exhaustion and getting use to a newborn or wait a year until the child is older & in his/her routine and go back in fall 2012?

    Any advice is appreciated.


  2. #2
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    Oct 2009


    Paramedic class is hard enough jugging with a full-time job! I can't imagine with a new born on top of it. There is so much studying, ride time, and what not! The big question is do you family to watch the baby or wife/girlfriend to stay home with the baby. I would sit down with your wife and family and see if you can come up with a plan and go from there. Medic school with take up your whole life!

  3. #3
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    Sep 2010


    What kind of program is it? As in, how many hours per day is class, days per week do you have class, how many months does it run, etc? Programs vary greatly in length and that can dictate how intensive and busy you will be. Regardless of any of that, it's a total workload on its own in combination with just trying to work full time. I knew people in my class who had kids and between working (some of them were already in EMS as EMT's so even had a schedule conducive to having some free time) and class they weren't home much to see their kids. It's a grind, to say the least.

  4. #4
    ATL is offline
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    Look here my man, u ca do paramedic school with a newborn plus a full time job. Paramedic school is not hard (if I was able to pass it). I have never been the smartest at anything but I went while working full time, going out, and still hade time for the ladies. The key u ask? 2 things-the will and determination to pass, and study time. What u do is take your medic book(s) with u everywhere u go. I'm talking from an oil change to the bus stop. Stay in the books. Not hours at a time, but every little chance u get. My school was not national registry at the time. I went 2 days per week for 2 hrs a day. I passed with a B+ average. I passed every test in class the first time, passed the state of IL medic test first attempt, and challenged the nAtional registry first time around. Didn't get 90% but I passed. U can do it man. Seize the opportunity if available. Good luck.

  5. #5
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    Mar 2003


    Published in The Aspiring Firefighterís Two Year Plan
    Paramedic School
    Tom Rollins, a graduate of the Daniel Freeman UCLA Paramedic program,
    wrote the following article. Rollins has agreed to share his experiences with
    future firefighters, so that they may make an informed decision when deciding
    to go to paramedic school.

    The decision to go to Paramedic School is one that should not be taken
    lightly. It will be one of the most challenging periods of your life, and to jump
    into it without serious thought, preparation and planning could spell disaster
    to your goal of becoming a firefighter. With that said, it can also be one of the
    most rewarding periods of your career in the fire service.

    I thought I was ready for paramedic school when I applied a few years
    back. I was working as a reserve firefighter in a very busy part of Los Angeles
    County and ran multiple 911 calls every shift. I had already attained an A.S.
    degree in Fire Science at a local college, put myself through a fire academy
    and was working one 24-hour shift a week as the fourth person on a very
    busy engine company.

    The final straw was when I spent two nights in line to get a job application
    for a local fire department. The first night of the line-up, a battalion chief walked
    the entire line with a handful of applications, handing them out to anyone who
    could show him a paramedic card. The rest of us stood in line another 30
    hours. By the time I got to the front of the line, they had run out of applications.
    Instead of taking tests with 2000 of my closest friends, I told myself that this
    was going to be the last time I slept on a sidewalk just to see the job go to a
    paramedic. I was convinced that the next natural progression to becoming a
    firefighter was attending paramedic school.

    I was overly confident in my abilities as a student because I had sailed
    through the courses toward my college degree with very little effort. In addition,
    EMT classes were a breeze for me. I had completed some upper division
    college classes at the state university level in Biology and Pre-Dentistry (I
    had aspirations of becoming a dentist before I realized my true calling was in
    the fire service). I was actively instructing first aid and CPR classes for about
    eight years prior to applying. Little did I know what lay in store for me. I came
    to find out that my story was quite typical of my future classmates as well.
    This brings up a good point. Are you going to paramedic school just to be
    able to check a box on your job application? Or are you going because you
    have a real desire to learn more about pre-hospital care? I saw many ďbox
    checkersĒ fail out of the program because the effort it took far exceeded the
    desire to have a ďPĒ nailed onto the end of their EMT card. If you are hired
    as a firefighter/paramedic, you will be expected to work as a medic probably
    for quite some time. If you donít like being a medic to begin with, itís bound
    to show. You are going to be a very unhappy person who is being scrutinized
    on every call. Itís hard enough to be a rookie firefighter without the pressure
    of being a paramedic at the same time. So give some serious thought about
    jumping into paramedic school if youíre not ready or not really willing.
    To get into a paramedic school you have to meet some basic requirements.
    Since they vary greatly from school to school and state to state, I wonít go into
    them here. After these requirements are met, a typical program will require
    you to take a basic EMT-1 level test. This is the first weeding out process you
    will encounter. My school had a minimum acceptance level of 85% to go on
    in the process. After that you are invited to take basic math, reading, writing
    and comprehension tests. The third step is an oral interview similar to a fire
    department oral board, where they ask you a few situational questions and
    your reasons for wanting to become a paramedic.

    If you are accepted, you go in for an orientation and receive your books.
    I suggest bringing a large backpack and parking as close to the front door
    as possible. You will most likely be assigned some study material before the
    first day of class. The first morning you walk in, expect a quiz. The instructors
    are testing your ability to follow directions. If you donít score well on your first
    quiz after having weeks to prepare, the instructors will have a nice one-sided
    conversation with you in which you do most of the listening. ďHow are you going
    to keep up throughout the program with only hours of study time instead of
    weeks and score above 80% on every quiz?Ē

    On the first day of instruction a doctor spoke to our class and told us that
    he demanded excellence in us. We were going to learn at a pace that was
    similar to a first year medical student and would be expected to perform at
    that level as well. If anyone didnít think that they could hack it, he invited them
    to quietly leave at the end of his address, no questions asked and receive a
    full refund of their tuition. He said that for the rest of our lives (yes thatís right,
    the rest of our lives) we would remember paramedic school and what we had
    to endure to graduate. And I can assure you, truer words were never spoken.
    You will always remember your time spent in medic school.

    Itís not that the subject matter is all that hard; if given two years to prepare
    and study, Iím sure that most people could graduate. The problem is that
    many programs teach the course in six months. Talk about putting a ten-pound
    chicken in a five-pound bag! So as you can probably see, medic school is all
    about mastering a vast amount of information in a short amount of time.
    A paramedic program is typically broken up into three phases: didactic
    (classroom), clinical and field internship phase. I was tested every day with
    written quizzes or skill stations. The minimum passing level in my program
    was 80%. No grading curves, no excuses, no missing classes and no sleep.
    OK, Iím joking. I was able to sleep one to three hours on most nights during
    the classroom phase.

    The following suggestions will help you prepare for and get the most out
    of each phase of school. Through planning and preparation you can increase
    your chances of graduating and getting your paramedic license.
    Before even applying to paramedic school, I suggest you take a semester
    course of Anatomy & Physiology (lecture and lab) at a local community college.
    In fact, many programs are starting to include this as a prerequisite. This is a
    good foundation class and you should work hard in it. Keep in mind that most
    paramedic schools demand at least 80% to pass; you should be in the upper
    90% in every pre-paramedic course you take.

    Next is a basic EKG (Electrocardiogram) course. You donít need to master
    12 lead EKGís yet, but it wouldnít hurt. Basic EKG courses are taught in three
    days or less. Know every cardiac rhythm taught to you and know it well. Be able
    to read a rhythm strip at a glance, not with five minutes of debate with calipers
    in one hand and flash cards in the other. Your field internship instructors will
    expect you to know this cold.

    A course in medical terminology, ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support),
    PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) and any other course that you can
    think of that will expose you to pre-hospital medical training are all feathers
    in your cap to help you get into paramedic school and succeed. If your basic
    math skills arenít what they should be, make sure you do whatever you must to
    get them there. Pharmacology is all about fractions, decimals and conversions
    factors. Study up on your metric system, paying particular attention to volume
    and mass measurements like milligrams and cubic centimeters.

    Many programs are now offering a paramedic prep course to help students
    be successful. All these courses count when it comes to admission time. Many
    people apply to paramedic school and the competition to get in is growing
    every day. If you can show that you are better prepared than the next person,
    chances are you will get the slot and not end up on the ever-growing waiting
    list. The school wants you to succeed.

    Another good way to prepare for a paramedic program that is often
    overlooked is to become the best EMT-1 you can be. Let the paramedics
    that you work with know you want to prepare yourself for paramedic school.
    I bet they will let you do some patient assessments and run through some
    patient simulations. I spoke to a paramedic program instructor who said
    patient assessment skills are severely lacking in his new students. Your field
    internship will go much more smoothly if you have actually done a few patient
    assessments and not merely acted like an IV pole on all of your 911 calls. The
    key is to get in there and get the experience.

    Some fire departments insist that their rookies do ALL the primary
    assessments prior to the paramedics taking over with the advanced stuff, so you
    might as well get your hands dirty. When the medics are doing something you
    donít understand, ask them after the call why they chose that certain treatment.
    Get to such a level of competence that you can predict what medication is
    going to be administered and why. You will be doing the same thing in the near
    future, so pay attention.

    A huge leg up in preparing for paramedic school is knowing your drugs.
    There can be over 100 pre-hospital drugs to learn and most of it is just rote
    memorization. You donít have to know what the drug does to memorize its
    dosage, indications and contraindications. By knowing this prior to the first day
    of class, you will buy yourself some much needed time to study other subjects
    (or sleep) while everyone else is struggling with pharmacology. Visit any
    paramedic school and they will gladly sell you the most current pharmacology

    You can also use this visit as important face time. Speak with an instructor
    or sit in on a lecture if you can. Talk with some of the zombie-like students and
    ask them how you could be better prepared for your class. When it comes time
    to take the oral interview, you may see a familiar face on the other side of the

    Another way to get experience is to volunteer for some of the simulation
    stations at the school to which you are applying. Often the school is looking for
    mock patients for the current class. This will give you an opportunity to see how
    the students are tested and what constitutes a pass or fail in a skills station.
    You would be surprised how often the program needs volunteers. And again,
    this is more face time for you to talk with the instructors and get information
    that other applicants will not have. The competition for that spot in the next
    class is high; all the above things will hopefully tilt the odds in your favor.
    When you do get that acceptance letter you need to prepare both mentally
    and financially. In my paramedic class we lost right around 40% of the students
    by graduation. A lot of these students were trying to work a job while in the
    program. If at all possible, do not try to work while in paramedic school if you
    are in a full-time, six to eight month program.

    The didactic period will last from 9 to 16 weeks depending on the school
    you attend. This is usually a Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule.
    But that is just class time. Next you have to drive home and eat and then
    study. You must explain to your family and friends that you are unavailable to
    do anything for the next 9 to 16 weeks. No nights or weekends off; these will
    be spent studying. All free time will be spent studying material, working on
    your assigned project, or preparing for the next test. All of your loved ones will
    have to excuse you from any other responsibilities during this time. If you fill
    your plate with anything other than paramedic school, you will most likely fail.
    Class failure rates in the 30% to 40% range are not uncommon.

    The next step in the program is called the clinical phase, during which you
    will spend about 180 hours in a busy hospital emergency room. A lot of this time
    will be spent starting IVís and generally angering your patients in the process.
    You will also get the chance to practice your patient assessment skills. Do as
    many assessments as you can. If you donít show any aptitude, the nurses
    will be more than happy to forget about you and move on to someone who is
    more interested in becoming a better paramedic intern.

    Some people use the clinical phase to coast and relax before going out
    to the field internship. Donít become one of these people. When a paramedic
    comes in with a patient, listen to how he or she gives report. Ask the medics
    what drugs were administered in the field and why they gave them. Listen to
    incoming 911 calls if you are in a base station hospital and ask the nurses for
    pointers on how to talk on the radio. When a patient needs to be intubated,
    make sure you volunteer for it. Sometimes the doctors forget that this is in your
    scope of practice and will do it themselves, but they might let you do it if you
    speak up. I got to do a number of intubations this way. When a trauma or full
    arrest patient comes in, make sure youíre not off doing something else less
    important. Get in there and practice your mega code skills and listen to how
    others run the code. Take notes as soon as possible after the code and write
    down everything you didnít understand or were confused about. Go over the
    code with the nurse and ask questions.
    The field internship is the 3rd and probably most challenging portion of
    your schooling. You will be riding out with a busy paramedic unit for at least
    20-25 shifts of 24 hours in length. Many paramedic programs have a difficult
    time placing students because the paramedic preceptors are taking you on
    as a favor to the school and/or program in general. Keep in mind that your
    preceptors get no extra pay for accepting you into their lives and they are doing
    you a favor! All they get out of the deal is more paperwork, more hassle and
    more headaches. In return they get to mentor new paramedics and this is why
    they really do it. If you are lucky enough to be able to do your internship at a
    municipal fire department where you will be working with highly experienced
    and knowledgeable paramedics, the whole crew is taking you under their
    collective wing. Treat this opportunity as you would a rookie firefighter position,
    because you may be one at this department if everything goes well.
    I highly advise trying to find your own internship before you start paramedic
    school. This way you can get a good internship in a busy fire station and get
    the most out of your time. Itís better to be graded on ten calls per shift than
    two. Imagine the upper hand you would have on an oral board if you were a
    paramedic intern at that department. Need I say more?
    No paramedic internship goes perfectly. Your preceptors donít expect
    perfection on your first shift except in one area Ė pharmacology. You may have
    remembered that I mentioned this at the beginning of the chapter. In your
    first shift it is common for the preceptors to question you on drug dosages,
    indications and contraindications to get a feel for how much you have prepared
    yourself for the field internship. If you canít rattle off all your dosages like a
    4th grader recites the alphabet, a whole new can of worms may be opened
    up and they will start questioning everything you learned. Not a good way to
    make that first impression. Know your drugs, know your drugs, know your
    drugsÖthere, I said it three times.

    Keep a positive attitude at all times when you are in your field internship.
    When you mess up a call, and you will, learn from your mistakes and move
    on. Visualize your next call going perfectly. When your preceptors tell you to
    change or add something to your patient assessments, do so immediately.
    Never argue with your preceptors or disagree with them in the middle of a call.
    There will be plenty of time to discuss the run on the way back to the station.
    During your internship you should never tell your preceptors how you will deal
    with patients in the future; just keep your comments to yourself and try to learn
    as much as possible in your 20 shifts.

    The assessment form that your preceptors fill out every shift has a section
    in it that grades your ability to take instruction and criticism. You will be amazed
    that what seems like a stupid idea on shift number five makes perfect sense
    on shift 18. A sure way to fail is to argue, disagree, or not follow instructions.
    The valedictorian of my class failed his field internship because of his inability
    to take instruction.

    Make sure the rig you ride on is the cleanest, most well-stocked rig in the
    city. When the next shift comes in and checks out the rig, everything should be
    fully stocked and in its place. The scope is clean and shining with a new roll
    of printer paper. The EKG patches are overflowing out of the pocket and the
    leads are wiped clean. The drug cabinet has no expired drugs lying around
    in the dark hidden corners. (A nasty little trick preceptors like to do is hide an
    expired drug in the bottom of the meds box.) The drug box is scrubbed to a
    shine and all the brass on the clasps is polished.
    When you come back from a call, restock any item that was used on the
    patient. Never let the scope batteries run low, or an audible alarm will sound off
    telling everyone on the next call that you are slacking. Empty out a compartment
    and wipe it clean, throw out any trash and put everything back in its proper
    place. Make sure you donít leave any oxygen bottles empty. If you find any
    medical equipment that you donít understand and canít give a drill on with ten
    minutes notice, ask your preceptors.

    When you have nothing to do, your nose is in the books. Every firefighter
    who sees that rig will know a paramedic trainee is on it because it will be
    shining when it comes down the street and every paramedic who works on
    the rig will not have to lift a finger when it comes to restocking it. If you work
    hard at everything you do in your 20 or so shifts, you are showing everyone
    how much you want to be there and do well. A good trainee acts a lot like a
    good firefighter rookie.
    Paul Lepore
    Division Chief

  6. #6
    Forum Member

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    Jan 2007
    Green Bay


    Quote Originally Posted by bbell1977 View Post
    Hi Forum,

    I planned on going for my Medic this coming fall. I recently found out I am going to be a dad and the child is due in December. I would be starting school in September for classroom work and then clinicals etc. My question is do I make the move and do it now risking exhaustion and getting use to a newborn or wait a year until the child is older & in his/her routine and go back in fall 2012?

    Any advice is appreciated.

    While the advice varies and there is good advice, especially between ATL and Paul, the question is to you and what is your goal? I can completely understand the challenges a newborn will place on you, but is this really a crutch you want to hold? Will you look upon your child years from now awaiting a FF job or missing out due to not having paramedic because you could have went?

    Yes, both will demand your attention, but you aren't going into child rearing alone are you? If you can finacially afford to do both, then do so. Education will increase in value and opens your chances, whereas anyone can hide behind a kid excuse. However, on the flip side, if you will be in financial straits if trying to do school and raise the kid, then look out for the family.

    Sure this can be seen as a wishy-washy answer, but neither issue is a challenge that must have its own stand alone focus. While both are demanding, they are manageable.
    The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

  7. #7
    ATL is offline
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    Mar 2011


    Damn Paul u wrote a mini book!!!! Your fingers hurt? U get an A + for that. I can tell u did very well in college essays .. If he cannot decide from your dissertation, then no one can guide him!!!

  8. #8
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    Join Date
    Jun 2005


    Thanks for the responses guys especially Paul for that insight. I know getting the medic will drastically increase my chances of getting my dream job. I remember when I got my EMT-B and at that time it was a great to have but these days it isn't worth as much. Thanks again guys...very good advice from all of you and it is very appreciated.

  9. #9
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Mar 2003


    It's actually a chapter out of my book, The Aspiring Firefighter's Two Year Plan
    Paul Lepore
    Division Chief

  10. #10
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    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    S.E. Idaho


    I had been a career firefighter for 7 years and 3 with my job when I went to medic school. My wife had our boy the day before class started. I am a paramedic. It can be done. Just depends on your dedication and motivation.


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