What You May Expect in Your First Year as a Paramedic
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What You May Expect in Your First Year as a Paramedic

Apr 08, 2010

Becoming a great paramedic is not something that happens overnight. Most paramedics spend years working with more experienced medics learning not only protocol but also how to properly fill out paperwork and give reports to nurses and doctors. Often, paramedics have had some experience working as emergency medical technicians, so working in the field is not entirely new to them. It is, however, a different experience to be in charge of decision making in the field and this is what most paramedics report as the most difficult thing to get used to. In coordination with the medical director and their partner, the paramedic must treat the patients to the best of their ability.

Where Will You Work?

Even as a new paramedic, it is not usually difficult for most inexperienced paramedics to find a job right away. Once you begin work as a paramedic, you will begin to recall things that you learned while in training. With every patient that you treat or transport it is a good idea to reflect on the patient's care afterwards and ask yourself "What could I have done better?" Most new paramedics will work for an ambulance company or fire department and they will be given certain protocol for each patient's chief complaint. For example, if a paramedic responds to a call for an adult male having chest pain, he knows how to properly assess the patient, administer oxygen therapy, establish an intravenous line, take the patient's vital signs, administer baby aspirin, do an EKG, and quickly report the findings of all this to the nearest emergency room.

The paramedic in the mean time will also obtain an appropriate health history including medical problems, a medication list, and the name of their doctor among other things. This sounds like a lot to do on a short trip to the emergency room, and it is. But during the first year of working as a paramedic, situations like this will become easier and easier for the new paramedic until it is almost second nature.

What Kinds of Patients Do Paramedics Help to Treat?

In addition to serious complaints like chest pain, gunshot wounds, serious car accidents, head injuries, and shortness of breath, the paramedic also needs to understand how to properly treat minor complaints as well. Often, paramedics might get calls, especially from elderly people, who need a ride to the hospital for a relatively minor problem. This is not exactly an appropriate use of the system, but it does happen. Falls, nosebleeds, hypertensive emergencies, suspected strokes as well as a number of other problems will all be treated in the first year of working as a paramedic. Paramedics and emergency medical technicians also need to have a good understanding of how to treat patients of different ages. Obviously, a small child would not be treated in the same way as an elderly person.

Are There Any Opportunities for Advancement?

There are many opportunities for advancement as a paramedic. Most of these opportunities require returning to school or becoming certified in other areas. Some paramedics that work for a while in the field wish to return to school to become a nurse. Others obtain the specialized training that is necessary to become a firefighter or to work as part of a helicopter rescue team. Still others move to places where there is a severe shortage of paramedics in order to obtain a higher salary. All these are good options for the paramedic as he becomes more experienced in his field.

How Do I Know If a Career as a Paramedic Is Right for Me?

If you enjoy helping people and are able to keep your cool in stressful situations, a career as a paramedic might be an option you should explore. Talk to other individuals experienced in pre-hospital care to see if their experiences are interesting to you.

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