How to Become a Paramedic in California|8 Best Steps

Searching for how to become a paramedic in California? The profession of a paramedic happens to be the highest level of all pre-hospital health caregivers. 

A paramedic merges several skills together, which makes them capable of managing several health-related issues, which include both medical and traumatic problems before the patients are transported to the hospital.

They are not doctors, however, they specialize in giving emergency treatment. They work hand in glove with doctors and provide life-saving treatment in the absence of a doctor.

They work as members of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and are often mistaken as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) but are not. However, most EMTs eventually become paramedics.

Paramedics’ duties are to transport and stabilize patients who call for emergencies. The skills of a paramedic include Oxygen Administration, Intramuscular Drug Administration, Wound Dressing,  Endotracheal Intubation, Intravenous Access, Cardiac Arrest Care,  amongst others. Paramedics have an expanded role and can work in various agencies including Emergency Department, Rehabilitation Unit, Police force, Army Airport, etc. 

If You are searching for how to become a paramedic in California, then read through, as I guide you through the best 10 steps on how to become a paramedic in California.

Steps on How to Become a Paramedic in California

  • Step 1: Obtaining a diploma

  • Step 2: Completing a paramedic education 

  • Step 3: Complete an internship

  • Step 4: Acquire a license

  • Step 5: Apply to Work as a Paramedic

  • Step 6 : Pass Pre-Employment Testing

  • Step 7:  Continue to improve on yourself 

  • Step 8: Join a community

Step 1:  Obtaining a diploma

Obtaining a diploma is the first step when it comes to how to become a Paramedic in California. It is the first step toward actualizing your dreams.

For an individual pursuing a career in paramedics, completing courses in biology, physiology, anatomy including any other health-related course could be a nice step toward achieving your dreams of becoming a paramedic. 

After successful completion of your high school diploma, you can now be eligible to be enrolled in an accredited paramedic program.

A paramedic program in California has a duration of about two to three years for a full-time program, which is dependent upon the actual program of study selected by the student and the institution from which the program is being obtained.

Step 2: Completing a paramedic education 

Before you can be admitted into a paramedic school in California, you must have obtained a high school diploma.

This implies that a student will first have to pursue EMT training. Before a choice is made on which paramedic school to apply for, care should be taken to ensure schools with accreditation is been selected.

Paramedic programs in California must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The course content provided by these schools must as well meet the requirements as described in the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) 2009 National Emergency Medical Service Education Standards.  Furthermore, the program must last for at least 1,090 hours.

This hour is further broken down into; 450 hours of combined didactic instruction and skills laboratory, and 160 hours of hospital clinical training, a couple of these hours may be allocated for training that takes place in an expanded clinical setting.

After these hours of training must have been completed, the EMT will have to begin an internship. This internship completely takes up the remaining 480 hours.

Students undergoing internships are entitled to a minimum of 40 patient contacts, and in order to be accredited, the individual must perform at least one Advanced Life Support (ALS) skill. Successful students can expect a certificate of completion to be issued within a period of ten business days.

Step 3: Complete an internship

Upon graduation from paramedic school, graduates are advised to take up internship opportunities. Internship opportunities are very helpful as well as essential as they provide students with field knowledge on paramedic operations. 

Student interns upon graduation are issued certificates, which adds up to their portfolio and increase their chances of getting employed. Some students eventually get employed by the company where they did their internship.

There are several internship opportunities out there students can benefit from. Many hospitals usually arrange internship programs for graduate students as well as undergraduates, which help them develop a better understanding and gain practical knowledge of their classroom study.

Step 4: Acquire a license

After completing your internship program, you will have to consider acquiring a license.

All states in the US require a paramedic certification before you could be allowed to practice. Certification can be obtained by taking a formal certification exam known as the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).

NREMT happens to be a private organization that offers certification, based on NHTSA education guidelines. NREMT exams are used in almost all the states in the US, and serve as the sole basis for issuance of EMT certification.

In most states, paramedic certifications are renewed every two to three years. This fourth step on how to become a paramedic in California is very very necessary.

Step 5: Apply to Work as a Paramedic

Graduates of paramedic studies who have acquired a valid government license are eligible to apply for work.

There are several sectors available one could apply for, however, the largest employers of paramedics are the ambulance services, the local government, and hospitals.

Fire services firms are also known to be major employers of paramedics, as they are often known to work with emergencies.

Step 6: Pass Pre-Employment Testing

Before you can be admitted into any organization, you will be subjected to a series of interview sessions.

These interviews are organized to filter out applicants who are not suitable for the job role while ensuring that only qualified applicants are eventually employed.

Passing a job interview not only displays your level of preparedness but also proves to your potential employer that you are the right person for the job.  The job interview process/assessment varies with respect to organizations and locations.

While some employers prefer written assessment, others prefer an oral interview, with some even going as far as subjecting potential employees to both written and oral interviews.

There are a lot of questions to expect during paramedic job interviews, which could include testing on your driving skills, your ability to lift some certain objects, your ability to respond to traumatic patience, and your general behavior or attitude to emergency situations.

This shouldn’t be a difficult question at all, if you passed out of paramedic school successfully, more so, there are several study materials that could assist you in preparation for job interviews. 

Step 7:  Continue to improve on yourself 

If you are looking towards building a very strong and solid career as a paramedic, then you must consider improving yourself constantly.

Knowing how to become a paramedic in California is good, however, Improving yourself will in addition to making you relevant in your field, make you indispensable and quite knowledgeable.

Improving yourself will also help you in getting a better paying job and in addition to that, help you get a pay raise.

Step 8: Join a community 

Another vital step on how to become a Paramedic in California is joining a community.

Several reasons exist as to why you should join a community. Joining a community has a lot of advantages. For example, joining a community like EMS Workers United/AFSCME , could help you to a  great extent in your career development.

EMS WORKERS UNITED goes as far as negotiating contracts that raise the standards in the industry, ensuring that paramedics workers are well paid, as well as being treated like professionals.

Communities serve as a voice for paramedics and assist in fighting for workers under them, while ensuring their voices are heard.

Furthermore, communities from time to time organize workshops and training sessions, for members, which assist them in their career development.

Communities could serve as an avenue for creating professional relationships between workers in the same profession. Joining a community could as well help individuals who are looking forward to getting employment in bigger organizations as well as individuals looking forward to landing better-paying jobs.

Paramedic Job Description

  • Tauma Emergency
  • Medical Emergency
  • Neurosurgical Unit/Ward

Tauma Emergency

Paramedics in this sector work closely in collaboration with doctors and nurses, to perform triaging of patients as they enter the hospital unit.

Their job is majorly to sort patients, in order to determine whether they have any medical or surgical/traumatic conditions, so they can move them to the appropriate section where they will get the needed medical attention.

The paramedic also helps in resuscitating the patients and also in carrying out medical procedures prior to the arrival of a doctor.

Their activities include oxygen administration, administration of drugs, Wound Dressing, Urethral Catheterization, Blood Sample Collection, and Documentation.

They are also into the transportation of patients into their different wards for further treatment.

Medical Emergency

Paramedics under the medical emergency services are usually tasked with the responsibility of receiving and taking care of patients with emergency medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, stroke, meningitis, exacerbation of mental health conditions, and hematological emergencies.

These Paramedics carry out medical proceedings on patients with this emergency situation, pending the arrival of a doctor.

Neurosurgical Unit/Ward

Paramedics that work in the Neurosurgical ward augment the Doctors and Nurse in the ward. Their sole responsibility is to move patients to perform X-Rays, Ultrasound Scans, CT-Scans, and other Radiological investigations.

Further activities they engage in include assisting in rendering acute care to patients in the ward and also assisting in collecting blood samples, initiating blood transfusion, and administering chemotherapeutic care to patients.

Typical duties of a paramedic include:

  • responding to emergency calls.

  • assessing patients, providing emergency treatment, and making diagnoses.

  • administering medication, pain relief and intravenous infusions

  • dressing wounds/injuries.

  • driving and staffing ambulances and other emergency vehicles.

  • transporting patients to the hospital and continuing to provide treatment while in transit.

  • providing hospital staff with patient information including condition and treatment.

  • communicating effectively with patients and their relatives/friends.

  • teaching and training members of the public to use first aid techniques correctly.

Skills Required to Be a Paramedic

There are several skill sets required of you to become a successful paramedic, Having gone through the steps on how to become a paramedic in California, have you checked within yourself if you have the needed skills? These skills are:

Problem-solving skills

Possession of strong problem-solving ability is a must-have for individuals looking forward to building a successful career as paramedics.  

Strong problem-solving skills, help paramedics in taking fast decisions in situations that demand urgent action. The job of a paramedic is usually variable and unpredictable, therefore, a paramedic must have strong problem-solving skills as well as decision-making skills in order to make fast and accurate decisions at all times.

Communication skills

The need for effective communication can’t be over-emphasized as a paramedic.

Effective communication helps paramedics in breaking down complex medical situations to patients in a way and manner in they can understand.

Effective communication also helps in a way in ensuring that gaps in communication are being prevented.

Physical strength and endurance

The work of a paramedic usually requires the use of strength. As a paramedic, you must possess physical strength. This is because of the kind of environment paramedics work in.

More so, if you must perform better as a paramedic, you must have great physical strength in order to maintain a consistent work output, for a longer period of time.

Knowledge of human anatomy

If you must be a great paramedic, then you must have a strong knowledge of anatomy.

The knowledge of anatomy could typically come in handy in situations where a paramedic encounters a patient with physical or organ damage.

A solid understanding of anatomy not only helps you understand the body organs but also helps you know how each body’s cells and organs relate to each other.

This knowledge will help in the discharge of your duty.

Use specialized equipment

In addition to having the above-listed skill sets of a paramedic, you must be able to know how to use specialized kinds of equipment.

On the successful determination of patients’ health conditions, they decide on what equipment should be used for others to meet their health challenges. 

Other important skill sets of a paramedic are 

  • Empathy and care for others.

  • The ability to make swift decisions and stay calm under pressure.

  • A good level of physical fitness.

  • Navigational and driving skills.

  • Resilience

  • Stamina

Can paramedics diagnose patients?

Paramedics diagnose patients, however, their diagnosis is dependent on the symptoms being displayed by the patients.

These diagnoses are usually, on-the-spot diagnoses and are validated when the patient is eventually taken to the hospital, where several tests will be carried out, for a more accurate result.

Diagnoses made by paramedics are usually not ignored by doctors, however, they serve as a building block for further tests.

Do paramedics always take patients to hospitals?

A paramedic is responsible for embarking on emergency medical movement, during situations that demand emergency care.

Their duties include but are not limited to assessing the patients and their environment, and administering proceedings in events when a doctor is not available.

They usually do not take patients to the hospitals, unless for severe situations that demand serious medical attention, which could pose a death challenge if not transported to the hospital.

Patients with surgical needs or sedation are generally transported to the hospital, because of the severity of their situation.

How much do US paramedics earn?

A paramedic in the US earns an average of $40,370 annually according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

This, however, falls more than the national average salary, which is $56,310. This salary range however is subject to several factors, which may include, the level of educational qualification attained, the rank attained as well as the duration of hours spent on work.

As a paramedic, in order to increase your earning potential, you may consider acquiring more education, taking up professional courses and acquiring relevant skill sets.

Conclusion on How to Become a Paramedic in California

The work of a paramedic is no doubt a fun one, as most of your activities during work period are done while standing, driving and assisting patients with serious medical attention.

This can at times be stressful and could really take a toll on you. Therefore, before a decision is made with regards to a choice of a career in paramedic, all these should be put into consideration. 

Now that you know how to become a Paramedic in California, its work requirements and what you stand to face, why don’t you start your application today?

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