My BA & EMS Part 2: Lost Prospects

In Part 1 I wrote about finding EMS while in college to find myself.  Half that time was spent more interested in EMS than what I was going to school for, and I knew I would never be as passionate about another career.

Two undesirable options were available to pursue this passion.  One was to take two years “off” to  go to paramedic school, which would have left me with a paramedic card, fast-food wage employment, lots of college credit, and no degree.  The other was to graduate, spend two additional years in paramedic school, and be an over-educated McEMS employee.

I am happy with my choice, and continue to be amazed with how lucky I’ve been with my life and career.  I am also sad that people choose other paths after developing an interest in EMS.

Dr. Baxter Larmon has presentation on the NAMSE trading post called Academic EMS Is Not an Oxymoron. I wish this was true, but as a profession we seem to discourage more education.   According to the National Collegiate EMS Foundation, in North America, there are 250 campus volunteer rescue squads.  There are only 13 programs in the US that offer a bachelor’s degree with paramedic certification, including Springfield CollegeUniversity of Maryland, and the University of New Mexico.  Anywhere else, interested students must “drop out” to go to paramedic school, or stay in school longer for a position that does not require an associate’s degree.


In my area, the University of Delaware has a volunteer rescue squad.  They operate a BLS ambulance on campus and also responds as mutual aid off-campus.  Several EMT’s also work part-time at paid services.  Many would like to become paramedics, but EMS usually ends up being something fun they did in college. This is one group of people we should be courting to join us.

Delaware has a nursing program, and now I turn patients over to former UD EMT’s.  UD also has an affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University’s physician’s assistant program.  Delaware students can enroll in a three year pre-PA undergraduate program, and graduate as a PA in two more at Jefferson.  As a parent paying for college, or eating dinner with a prospective son/daughter-in law, a career as a nurse or PA seems more attractive than EMS.

I do not think it is necessary, nor feasible, for paramedics to be required to have a bachelor’s degree.  I do believe that we need to value and encourage partners, coworkers, and students to get one.  Instead of choosing one or the other, we should figure out more ways to obtain a bachelor’s degree and paramedic certificate in four years.

There are enough choices to make in life, and this should not have to be one of them.







  1. Excellent points. I agree that a BS/BA would be a lofty requirement for paramedics… EMS Managers, on the other hand, would certainly benefit from more professional development. Keep up the great work!

  2. Jack Sullivan says:

    I truly believe that this is the best blog on the web. Your eloquence and grasp of subject matter is superb. You seem to be well grounded and passionate about your work. You must have had wonderful parents who laid the framework for you work.

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