No matter what profession you are in, it’s always important to value learning new concepts and skills and staying up to date on changing industry standards and best practices. EMS providers have an imperative to find as many opportunities as possible to continue learning new things about their patients, as well as ways to provide the most safe and effective care possible to patients, in any scenario.
There are many reliable resources and opportunities providers can seek out online to obtain continuing education credits, network with other professionals and ultimately advance their training and their career.
National standards in continuing education
To ensure EMS training programs are as effective and up to date as possible, the National Emergency Medical Services Education Standards – last updated in 2021 – were designed so that they can be adapted to meet evolving educational practices, scientific evidence and community standards of care. As such, it is important that providers are aware of periodic changes to these standards, and how they affect their training and career.
The national standards are comprised of four major components: competency, knowledge, clinical behaviors/judgments, and educational infrastructure, all of which should be considered for continuing education opportunities at each licensure level, from Emergency Medical Responders to Emergency Medical Technicians, Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics.
There are many additional factors and governing bodies that influence National EMS Education Standards, including, but not limited to:
- Federal agencies and stakeholder interests
- Accrediting and certifying organizations, such as the National Registry of EMTs
- Local advisory committees and community needs
- Advances in EMS, such as technology and evidence-based medicine
- State laws and regulations
- Regional requirements
Types of continuing education
There are many different types of educational opportunities that satisfy the National EMS Education Standards, and providers are encouraged to pursue a range of resources and tools, based on their roles, interests, and specific performance areas and objectives they’d like to focus on.
Some of the approaches offered to providers for continuing education include:
- Lecture programs and conferences: These allow providers to obtain continuing education credits easily while networking with other professionals.
- Approved self-study programs: These programs allow providers to work at their own pace, from remote locations.
- Case reviews: These exercises allow providers to network with other medical physicians and directors while reviewing patient calls and hypothetical treatment scenarios.
- Grand rounds: Attending grand rounds at area hospitals helps expose EMS providers to a variety of patient conditions, and the ins and outs of physician and medical student interactions.
- Teaching: Getting involved in different teaching and training opportunities is a great way for providers to sharpen their skills and put their knowledge to the test.
Important training topics for providers
EMS providers may pursue an array of continuing education topics/focus areas based on their interests and common patient scenarios or challenges they encounter regularly. Some nationally standardized continuing education topics many providers choose to pursue include:
- Airway management (basic and advanced)
- Abdominal emergencies
- Pediatric respiratory emergencies
- Neonatal ventilatory management
- Allergic reactions and anaphylaxis
- Patient assessment
- EMS provider health and well-being
- Geriatric medical emergencies
Seeking out resources
With the number of resources available online nowadays, it’s easier than ever to find remote and in-person continuing education opportunities that providers can pursue for credits and to enhance their skills and medical knowledge. Some great places to start are the Emergency Health Services Federation website, which includes a list of provider resources, training and certification tools, and EMS1 Academy, which offers over 225 EMS courses approved for CEU credit by the Continuing Education Coordinating Board for Emergency Medical Services (CAPCE).
Providers should take time to research and discover opportunities that are best for them, and will help them further their education, career and life-long learning.