What to Expect
One of the first things a paramedic program will test is your ability to
perform under pressure. This is an intense program.
"It's not a Monday to Friday, 9-to-5 thing," says Tanya Lavalle. "My day
[was] often nine to 10 hours long including research, practicum and class
time and my weekends [were] often taken up as well."
Practica give students the opportunity to gain work experience in the field
and are invaluable, says Lavalle. "The classwork gives you the information
you need and the practicum allows you to put that knowledge to work.
"The theory tells you how to assess a patient and how to treat them. The
practicum shows you that not all patients are willing or able to tell you
what is wrong with them. You have to have good people skills and be able
to ferret out information as quickly as possible."
The amount of reading required of paramedics surprised Robert Freeman.
He took the program at Tacoma Community College. "Manuals, memos, charts -- there
is a lot of reading in this work," he says.
How to Prepare
Lavalle says a good basic math background is essential for the many
calculations that have to be performed by paramedics. First aid training
is a good idea. She also suggests that students volunteer in places like hospitals
so they can get a good idea of what they will be getting into.