The Role of the Paramedic

A Paramedic is a highly trained and skilled medical professional who is educated to carry out some of the duties of a Physician. Paramedics can examine, evaluate and treat patients with equipment and medications usually only found in the emergency department of a hospital.

Paramedics are typically utilized as emergency care practitioners on ambulances or on first response emergency vehicles but their scope is rapidly expanding to many other areas. Some of these include industry, elementary and high schools, colleges, hospitals, doctor's offices.

More challenging and higher paid positions include working in specialty areas such as cruise ship medical departments, off-shore oil drilling platforms, helicopter or fixed wing medical transport and hyperbaric oxygen chambers. Often they are the sole or highest trained medical provider in these areas. The income and future job outlook for paramedics is rapidly improving. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

One of the latest and most exciting roles is Hospital Emergency Department Paramedic in positions to assist the physician. The Paramedics are not replacing nurses but augmenting the critical care capabilities of the emergency department and Intensive Care Units.

The origin of the word paramedic may have come from the military, where highly trained medics parachuted into emergency areas. Today the term is used to signify personnel who function as subsidiaries or supplements to Physicians. The prefix "para" is now taken to mean "closely resembling; beside," and medic is taken to mean "the Physician." A Paramedic works beside and/or resembles the Physician. Many of the procedures and medications administered by the Paramedic are ordered and supervised by a Physician. This may be through direct supervision or remotely using telephone, radio or pre-established written orders.

Paramedics must be ambitious, honest, calm, intelligent, caring, non-prejudiced and non-judgemental people who are strong both mentally and physically. These are some of the desired attributes that EMT-P Program Selection Committees look for in a potential student candidate.


Is a Paramedic a Physician Assistant or Nurse?
No. Paramedics are a unique medical entity. Paramedics receive education in many of the same areas as a Nurse or PA such as medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology and so on. Unlike these health care professionals, Paramedics concentrate on emergency issues and become intensivists in OUT OF HOSPITAL EMERGENCY MEDICINE. Paramedics at times will be called upon to fill any role in a crisis. In essence a Paramedic is part physician, nurse, social worker, clergy, police officer, firefighter, mediator, counselor and teacher just to name a few.

Is a Paramedic an independent provider?
No. Much like the PA, a Paramedic is considered a "Delegated Practitioner". The Paramedic receives the authority to practice through a physicians license. Each practicing Paramedic has a Physician director who is responsible to direct and review the activities of a Paramedic.

I'm a Nurse or Physician, can I work on an ambulance as a Paramedic?
No. Physicians and Nurses, while highly trained, need to complete an EMT and Paramedic training program to work on ambulances in NYS. Many EMT and Paramedic programs allow these health care professionals to challenge out of the content and skills they already know by indepth testing. MCC does have a challenge process for EMT-CCs, RNs, PAs, DOs and MDs.