I remember the day I decided to go to paramedic school like it was yesterday. I paced for about 5 hours, pestering people to ask their opinion, googling when the right time was, and seeing if any of my friends were going at the same time. Finally I said F$#% it, I'm going...
It worked out well for me, I graduated and now have an incredible job. Some of the students in my class have some pretty major regrets however. In hind sight I could have prepared a lot more as well. I came up with these 5 tips so maybe it will help ease the stress of deciding when it is the right time.
1. Work as an EMT
Working as an EMT has a few benefits, especially if you're young. Working as an EMT gives you the most important quality you need to be successful, experience. Working under a mentor for a year or two is invaluable in this industry. It also gives you the chance to see if you really want to be a paramedic long term. You experience some very unique situations as a paramedic, some of them frightening, a lot of them hilarious. Its good to know before you invest in paramedic school if you can handle these situations.
2. Understand A&P as best you possibly can
Anatomy and physiology is the foundation of all your knowledge as a paramedic. you would be 100% failing yourself as a paramedic if you did not invest in anatomy and physiology knowledge. There are great books and online courses you can take to improve your knowledge, there is no excuse to leave anatomy and physiology until the last minute.
3. Research the school that works for you
This is a big question I get asked at least once a day. Frankly it does not matter where you live in north america the same principle is the same. I believe full time in class paramedic school is for people that have the financial means and the free time to do it. It gives you a great opportunity to be one on one with your instructors. However I don’t think this is the best way to go if you have a family and need to make an income to support them. Find a good distance program so you can continue to work and be with your family.
4. Understand medications as best you can
There are a lot of topics to have a good understanding in before you start paramedic school. This likely will be the most difficult to grasp. Likely because you’re going to be so focused on memorizing specifics of certain medications that you forget to understand how they all work in the body. Get a text book that digs deep into the pharmacokinetics of drugs, start understanding why you're giving drugs.
5. Save up
This is the biggest regret I had with paramedic school, instead of saving the tuition for paramedic school I got a loan from the bank. This may be the only option for some people and I understand that. Just consider the fact that the more you put yourself into debt before school, the longer it will be before you can invest in a new vehicle, or even a house for yourself. Your education is not worth destroying yourself financially to get there. Think of it this way, school tuition and books cost me $24000 for two years of paramedic school. I took out a loan for $30000 to cover any extra expenses that may arise during those two years. It took me 5 years at $450 dollars a month to pay my loan off. That is more than a brand new Subaru WRX monthly payment right now.
This last point is probably the best way to set your goals. Focus on a money amount you want to save for school, while working as an EMT save up that money and during the time it takes invest in the knowledge you need to prepare and soak in the experience. Future you will be thankful!
All the best,
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