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From Paramedic to PA: What You Need to Know

Attending PA school is a daunting task, especially for those who are already EMS-certified and working in the medical field. Between the odd job hours that make it difficult to attend scheduled classes and the growing costs of education, it can seem like an impossibility to transition into the role of a physician’s assistant.

Luckily, online certification courses and continuing education are rising in popularity, offering you much more flexible class hours at significantly lower costs.

Even with these new developments that make the journey from EMT to paramedic to PA easier, there’s still a lot to learn and overcome. That’s why we’re here to help you understand exactly what you will need to know in order to transition from paramedic to PA, what some in the medical community have dubbed “paramedic practitioners.”

Paramedic vs. PA: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between these two fields also happens to be the biggest hurdle for those looking to transition: education.

It may seem like an easy and even logical transition from paramedic to PA, but there are key differences between the necessary qualifications for entering into either of these professions.

Though you need to go through extensive medical training to become a nationally certified paramedic, you do not need a college degree to qualify for that training.

In contrast, the educational path of a physician’s assistant is much more based in traditional education and typically requires a master’s of science. Individuals who enter into the PA field tend to have a background in advanced sciences, such as biochemistry, physics, and organic chemistry.

In a nutshell, EMS career training is seen much more as a technical program whereas PA education is a degreed profession.

The New Field of Paramedic Practitioners

Though different in their qualifying standards, these two careers utilize very similar skills. In fact, some systems are already utilizing PAs in EMS. With the increasing availability of online courses and certifications, the jump from paramedic to PA is gradually getting smaller, and a new field of paramedic practitioners is emerging.

Equipped with hands-on EMS experience in the field coupled with a traditional educational background, these providers are uniquely qualified for both pre-hospital and in-hospital treatment of patients. As education continues to grow in its accessibility, more and more paramedics are being given the opportunity to transition from their chosen field into a related field with better pay and benefits.

Where Should You Start?

No matter how you want to advance your EMS career, education is the place to start. Just like with an online ACLS certification, online BLS certification, or online PALS certification, digital continuing education can be a way to advance your career while balancing a hectic schedule.

If you decide becoming a PA is the right path for you, start by working toward your college degree(s), if needed. Though it can be difficult to juggle your job, family, and school, look into flexible online options that can fit around your busy schedule. PAs require a bachelor’s degree (often with an emphasis on science), as well as a master’s degree in PA studies from an accredited university.

Start by testing out a few classes to see what workload you can handle and if this is the right career choice for you. Read below for a quick overview of what a PA’s day-to-day may look like.

What responsibilities does a PA have?

A supervising physician (and, often, state law) determines a PA’s specific responsibilities; however, they typically provide the same services as a primary care physician. According to the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, this includes:

  • Making rounds and performing patient exams
  • Diagnosing conditions
  • Assisting in surgery
  • Ordering and interpreting lab tests and X-rays
  • Prescribing medications
  • Creating and managing treatment plans
  • Advising on preventative care

If this sounds like the career you’d like to transition into, start looking beyond educational requirements. Research the PA job market in your area, the state licensure process, and learn more about what medical specialty in which you’d like to train.

While becoming a PA is a much more direct path than becoming a physician, it’s still a journey that requires commitment and dedication from start to finish. Make sure your schedule allows a healthy work-life balance so you can make progress toward your career goals without sacrificing your health or happiness.

The Importance of Online ACLS and BLS Certification

As a paramedic, you’re already familiar with Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support and Basic Life Support certifications. As a Physician’s assistant, you’ll also be required to obtain and regularly renew these certifications. Just like for paramedics, online ACLS certification , online BLS certification, and online PALS certification make it easier to accomplish this on a busy schedule.

If you need to renew your ACLS, PALS, Neonatal, or BLS certifications as a paramedic or PA, ACLS Certification Institute is here to help. We offer flexible courses with 24/7 access so that you can learn and study when it’s convenient for you. We’ve helped more than 10,000 healthcare providers sharpen their skills and improve patient outcomes. Our online ACLS certification, online BLS certification, as well as our PALS and Neonatal courses are completely digital so that you can access everything you need for your certification quickly and conveniently.


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