First a bit of back story, there's an article written by Dr. Brian Bledsoe on jems.com about a proposed change to NREMT policy regarding who may and may not sit for the paramedic exam, many comments were left on the article web page and rather than list mine with everyone else's I've decided to post my comments to my blog.
Dr. Brian Bledsoe always manages to stir the pot and piss people off and as usual a discussion on the advancement of EMS stating that we need to raise the bar is bound to be offend someone. And as per usual the discussion devolves into a an argument of urban vs. rural and paid vs. volunteer. Now, as for my experience, I am a graduate of an accredited paramedic education program and I have taught and mentored students from non-accredited programs. Is there a difference in the education one can obtain? Absolutely. If we are ever to become a profession then we need to take a lesson from the history of nursing education and push towards degree-based programs for paramedics. Regional/local paramedic education programs cannot match the education received in an academic setting, there is no arguing this point. Now, I'm not saying that non-accredited programs do not produce good paramedics, I've known several great paramedics that are the product of non-accredited programs and they are excellent practitioners, but we also must ask, what if those providers had access to everything that an academic setting had to offer- could they be something more than what they are now? I received my paramedic education in a university level program, now I realize that this option is not available to a lot of people, but there are plenty of really great community college based paramedic programs out there that are available to the masses and there is no reason why people can't get themselves to them. I have a colleague back in Maine who despite having several "local" medic programs available to him drove 120 miles one way to obtain his paramedic education from a community college. We need to start making EMS as a degree program, there is no getting around it, we need grassroots involvement in EMS organizations so we can gain the lobbying power needed to bring about change. We need people to get off their collective asses and give a damn rather than continue to sit around and bitch and whine about how we aren't respected.
Now, while I’m on my rant of respect we as EMS providers need to understand how other allied health care professionals work. How many times have we walked in to a nursing home only to treat the staff like they don't know anything? You *know* you're guilty of it, what many EMS folk don't understand is that they do not operate in the same manner that we do. Standing orders in a nursing home have nothing to do with emergency medicine. Even something as simple as oxygen administration often times requires an order. How many times have you gone in to the ER and rolled your eyes at something that an ER nurse does? How many times have your actions caused us all to lose respect in the eyes of that veteran ER nurse who has forgotten more than you'll ever know about emergency medicine? The fact of the matter is we are not a respected part of the health care team. We as EMS providers know what we are and what we are capable of, but we are not professionals, we are tradesmen, and for us to become professionals we need to enact change and I believe this shift in policy on the part of the NREMT is a step in the right direction