Going back to school is possible in your fifties and even your sixties. And it’s a great way to change up your career. But what about going back to school to study for physically demanding jobs?
Can I train to be a paramedic at 50? Yes, you can. Paramedics can have a physically demanding career at times. However, if you’re both physically and mentally healthy, you can become a paramedic. You will need to be able to bend, lift, work long hours, and remain calm in stressful situations.
This article will discuss the education and physical requirements of a paramedic so you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to be a paramedic. It can be a challenging career, but it’s rewarding to those that love the work.
What You Need to Become a Paramedic
If you’re thinking about becoming a paramedic as a 50-year-old, it’s important to know what you have to do to get there. Since it’s in the medical field, you will need an emergency medical technician (an EMT) training and an Associate’s degree in order to obtain paramedic certification.
What Does a Paramedic Do?
First, you should understand the differences between a paramedic and an emergency medical technician (an EMT). They’re very similar, but a paramedic does a little more than an EMT.
An EMT provides basic medical care, including CPR and stopping bleeding. They aren’t permitted to perform the advanced duties a paramedic can do. So they require less training than a paramedic, usually no more than 150 hours. EMTs can work for the police and fire departments, ambulances, and hospitals.
Paramedics provide the same care as EMTs. However, they are allowed to give the patients IVs, medication, and breathing tubes. They can work in advanced emergency services and require up to 1,800 hours of training.
You will need basic medical education to be a paramedic, which can be obtained with an Associate’s degree in emergency care training. You must have a high school diploma or a GED before you can begin training.
The basic steps include:
- Complete CPR training. Training courses are offered online and in classrooms in your area. And they only take a couple of hours to complete. The other courses you will take to be a paramedic will require that you know CPR. So it’s best to complete this before you begin the other courses.
- Complete EMT training. This will teach you the basic medical care that EMTs can provide. It can take up to two years to complete the required 120-150 hours of training. During the courses, you will learn how to transport patients and use medical equipment.
- Pass a certification exam. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam is required to become an EMT or paramedic.
- Complete advanced EMT training. This training will teach you how to use IVs and other equipment and should take about a year to complete. Training may require 150-300 hours of training, depending on the program. You also might have to complete internships with emergency rooms and services during this time.
- Obtain an Associate’s degree. A degree is required to become a certified paramedic. You might be required to work as an EMT for six months before you are able to apply. Courses will include anatomy, physiology, and advanced life-support techniques.
Obtaining an Associate’s degree will make you a certified paramedic. Depending on the programs and schools you attend, the total amount of time you will need to complete certification will be between 3.5 and 5.5 years.
A Bachelor’s degree is unnecessary to be a paramedic. But if you want to get a promotion for a paramedic training position or as a healthcare administrator, you will need to get the degree. This will add about two years to the total process.
Am I Too Old?
As a 50-year-old, you might be worried that you’re too old to begin training. Fortunately, there’s no age limit for paramedics. As long as you’re over eighteen and are in a good health condition, you can become a paramedic.
Before you begin seeking certification, take some time to consider the physical and mental requirements of the job. If you have any kind of limitations, regardless of age, becoming a paramedic might be difficult. Or it could become difficult to continue over time.
Paramedics have many physical duties to perform, including:
- Sitting or standing for long periods of time
- Reaching frequently
- Lifting or carrying patients
- Walking up and down flights of stairs
Paramedics often have to work long shifts. The nature of the job doesn’t allow you to know how active or sedentary you’ll have to be on a shift. So you will need to be capable of sitting or being active for long periods of time. It’s possible to spend several shifts in a row on your feet.
Paramedics have a higher rate of injuries than most occupations. They have to rush out to the site in an ambulance and put themselves into a potentially dangerous situation so they can save someone’s life. The situation could cause patients and bystanders to panic and behave erratically, which can be a risk of injury for the paramedic.
Common causes of injury include:
- Body motion. Repetitive movements or sudden injuries can occur. This includes tripping and falling. Ambulances are often called during severe weather, where rain or ice can increase the chances of injury.
- Harmful substances. Paramedics can be exposed to blood or get accidentally stuck by a needle, whether it came from the IV or the patient.
- Violence. Patients and bystanders can become panicked and act violently or assault paramedics while under the influence of alcohol, for instance.
- Vehicle accidents. Car crashes can occur while riding inside of the ambulance. Moving around inside the ambulance in motion can also cause injury if you lose your footing, especially while turning.
Paramedics must be mentally healthy since they must work quickly to aid patients and others who could potentially be traumatized by their situation.
A paramedic must be able to:
- Make wise decisions quickly
- Effectively communicate with patients and other paramedics
- Listen carefully
- Handle dangerous situations
- Assist emotional patients
You may have to offer comfort to people who are scared, angry, or confused. And you need to be able to keep your composure if they become violent. Even if you find yourself dealing with an intoxicated person or someone who is deeply upset.
Be prepared to work in a dangerous environment. Indeed, you might be exposed to injury or disease that can be transmitted by coughing or by blood. If you work with the fire department, you might also come into contact with heat and smoke.
Scheduling might be sporadic. You could end up with multiple 12 or 24-hour shifts and work on weekends or holidays. You might also have several days off at a time, creating an uncertain schedule. Again, you can’t really guess how active you’ll be during a shift. So you can’t know ahead of time if the job will be too physically demanding for you.
To conclude and answer your question, we can say that you’re not too old to become a paramedic at 50 if you’re healthy.
However, you do need to ask yourself how committed you are to this endeavor. Are you willing to study for up to seven years? Are you able to work at least ten years after receiving your degree so you can enjoy the benefits? Last but not least, are you passionate enough about the job to stick with it on the bad days? If so, go for it!
- Ems1: 5 causes of high injury rate in EMS providers
- EMTLife: Is 56 too old to become an EMT?
- Learn How To Become: How to Become a Paramedic/EMT: Paramedic Schools and EMT Training
- ParamedicEDU: Learn How To Become A Paramedic
- Paramedic Training Spot: Am I Too Old to Become a Paramedic?
- The Balance Careers: What Does an EMT/Paramedic Do?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: EMTs and Paramedics