Unfortunately, many people in EMS believe that their days of study and formal education are over the day they graduate and go on road as a fresh EMT or Medic.
However, it’s imperative to the success and growth of the EMS industry that EMS continuing education is taken seriously by all providers, and not just seen as a basic requirement to maintain your licence.
Depending on country and state rules, EMTs and Paramedics are usually required to undertake a certain amount of EMS continuing education per year in order to remain licenced, however not all systems have this requirement, and even more concerning is that many systems have loopholes such as allowing a provider to pass their EMS continuing education requirements simply by re-sitting the EMT or Paramedic exam. While this allows proof of competency, it doesn’t prove effort and commitment to growing as a provider, and expanding your knowledge and skills beyond the minimum standard.
So, what are the best ways to seek quality continued education?
Below is a list of 5 ways to seek quality continuing education. Remember that some continued education is recognised as formal training, while some options are informal and unrecognised.
As you read through the list, remember that just because something is unrecognised or informal, does not mean it is without value. Plenty of good informal education options exist, and while they may not grant you credits or a formal certificate or qualification, they can help you gain vast amounts of knowledge and experience that you can still utilise throughout your career.
1. Becoming an instructor
You’ve probably already heard the phrase “The best way to learn something is to teach it” and while it has some truth to it, we’d probably suggest amending it to say “The best way to learn more about something is to teach it.”
We make that amendment because you must already have some prior knowledge and experience of a certain topic before attempting to teach it, otherwise you are doing yourself, and your would-be students a disservice.
As an EMT or Paramedic, you can choose to take the step to becoming an EMT or Paramedic instructor, which can be a good method of meeting your EMS Continuing Education requirements. The process to achieving this will vary depending on location, but it may involve taking on additional training both in your current field, as well as a qualification or training in the art of teaching and educating.
Choosing to become an EMT or Paramedic instructor is a valuable way to stay up to date with changes to EMS, and providing that you treat the position with the respect it deserves, and you place value on personal improvement and ongoing education, you can learn a lot more about your chosen profession, and be able to help pass on that knowledge to students.
2. Join an online community
EMS Continuing Education doesn’t just have to be done in a classroom. At EMT Humor we offer a membership platform that allows readers access to a number of member-only articles, interactive scenarios and a private facebook group for facilitating discussion and the sharing of ideas and information.
By joining such a platform, while informal, you are committing to ongoing learning and personal development.
Furthermore, joining as a member to a platform like this makes your EMS Continuing Education an enjoyable experience, and something you look forward to.
One of the great things about online communities like these are that you can not only receive knowledge, but also share your knowledge with others. An important part of EMS Continuing Education is being able to help others in your profession to achieve their goals as well.
3. Enrol in a new course/qualification
The day you stop learning is the day you die. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and complete some courses or further learning. Whether that be specialised courses, advancing from EMT to Advanced EMT, or to Paramedic, or even branching out into Nursing or Medicine. There are always options to explore and more to learn.
Not to be forgotten are courses and learning through your fire department, especially if you work in a fire-based EMS system.
Swift water rescue training, for example, is a great option for conducting EMS Continuing Education, as not only will you learn hands on skills that can assist you to save lives, but it’s also a great way to boost your confidence, meet other first responders and undertake continuing education in a group environment.
There are also other specialisations such as Wilderness EMT Training. Not only are Wilderness Area EMTs able to operate under a more extended scope of practice, but are also expected to have more advanced knowledge to back up their extended skills. This makes it an excellent opportunity for advancing your EMS Continuing Education, not only as a formal certificate, but also granting you the ability to gain new experiences and work in different environments.
4. Read books
Reading books is an essential part of learning. By reading books, you are actively investing your time, and hopefully learning something new, and expanding your current knowledge, which is what EMS Continuing Education is all about.
You can find a list of the best EMS Textbooks to read here. Another good starting point is to visit your local library and search for books on various EMS topics like Anatomy, Physiology, Pathophysiology, Pharmacology, Emergency Medicine, etc.
You can also find the Best EMT Audiobooks here, for those who find audiobooks a better way of reading.
Don’t be afraid to also check out biographies from medical personnel as you can often learn from their experiences.
HINT: Books don’t have to be just about EMS to be beneficial for EMS Continuous Education. For example Chris Voss’s book on Negotiation is not an EMS book, but it is still a useful book to read for EMTs and Paramedics, as negotiation is an essential EMS skill. Read our list of the best EMS Books here!
5. Placements & Internships
Any EMT or Paramedic has had to complete placements and internships throughout their training, but it doesn’t need to stop there.
Consider doing Ride alongs and placements with other agencies as you develop throughout your career. This might mean going from a small rural EMS agency, to spending a shift or two with a busier inner-city agency, or it may even mean travelling to another state or country to do a ride along there, and compare the difference between the two systems. This is a great way to achieve EMS Continuing Education.
You could also consider doing placements in local hospitals, medical centres or other places that provide more advanced care, to help you gain extra knowledge and experience that you can take with you throughout your EMS career.
Depending on the environment, and type of placement you undertake, you may also be eligible to get credit towards your EMS Continuing Education Requirements.