If you've been considering enrolling in an EMT program and pursuing a career in the emergency medical field, you may have wondered what the difference between an EMT and paramedic is. The educational track for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics are very similar, but the paramedic has completed advanced training in the field of emergency medical care and emergency response management, and has logged in more clinical hours than an EMT. Both EMTs and paramedics must undergo a rigorous training program at an accredited EMT training school or medical training center, and those who pass a certification exam can get credentials in the field.

How Do an EMT and Paramedic Differ?

The primary difference between an EMT and paramedic is the amount of education and training the individual has received. EMTs usually work with ambulance service providers and hospitals to provide assistance to paramedics, nurses and other emergency personnel. They provide support services to ensure the patient receives the appropriate care they need. EMTs are not permitted to administer any type of drugs through needles, but they are responsible for performing CPR when needed, administering glucose if the patient is diabetic, and providing medical assistance in the event of an allergy attack.

Paramedics are given more on-the-job responsibilities than EMTs, and are trained to administer intravenous fluids, stabilize patients after trauma or injury, handle hemorrhaging situations, and complete patient assessments.

Difference Between EMT and Paramedic Training Programs

EMT training programs are much shorter in length than paramedic training programs and many courses can be completed online. EMT training programs average between 120 to 150 hours in length, while paramedic training programs average between 1,200 to 1,800 hours in length. Most paramedic training programs are built up on topics from the basic and intermediate EMT programs.

State requirements for EMTs and paramedics vary, but most students who wish to enter this field will need to pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) EMT or paramedic exam, and then obtain certification. Students must first become EMTs in order to become a paramedic.

Training for EMT and Paramedics

Most paramedics begin their educational career by completing an EMT-I Certification program and working through an EMT-II or EMT-III training program. The EMT-Paramedic program is the most advanced and comprehensive training program for emergency medical professionals, and may lead towards an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in the field.

Students who only complete the EMT-I program and then enter the workforce can typically only take jobs as "first responders". These jobs involve assisting other EMTs and paramedics, assessing the patient and managing basic emergency care duties. Those who finish the EMT-II and EMT-III programs may be able to apply for positions that involve administering medication, transferring the patient from the ambulance to the hospital bed, and providing respiratory and cardiac care.

EMT-Paramedic programs offer advanced training and extensive hands-on experience in the field. Students who successfully complete these programs are trained in areas such as emergency pharmacology, cardiology, airway management, advanced anatomy and physiology, trauma management and medical emergency procedures. They are also responsible for completing a series of clinicals at a local hospital or medical center.