Education is an integral part of progress -- for individual practitioners and their careers and for EMS systems striving to improve. For the professional wishing to better himself and drive his industry forward, opportunities to seek formal education, including bachelor and graduate degrees in emergency medical services and related fields, have never been better.
Earning a college degree is an arduous process requiring substantial effort. The payoff may or may not come immediately in salary, but will include an enhanced ability to understand and communicate ideas and analyze complex problems. This improves promotability. A degree shows employers you can set a long-term goal and pursue it successfully.
Bachelor degrees typically take four years to attain through full-time study, though working students often take fewer hours per semester and hence longer to finish. As an interim step, many schools offer associate (two-year) degrees that may be a reasonable goal for EMS providers. View a list of Bachelor degree programs in EMS here.
Beyond two- and four-year degrees lie graduate degrees: masters and doctorates. These attest not only to a holder's expert degree of knowledge in their field, but to their tenacity, commitment and follow-through. The graduate degree holder has shown they can conduct research, think critically and articulate complex concepts and positions. These qualities help prepare professionals for leadership and advancement.
Master degrees to consider include Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of Science (MS) and Master of Education (MEd). Doctoral degrees include terminal professional degrees such as those in medicine (MD), law (JD) and psychology (PsyD), which are essentially entry-level qualifications for those professions, and terminal degrees at the highest level of fields of academic study, including Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Science (DSc) and more.
Online and Other Degrees
Many schools offer degrees in areas related to emergency medical services, such as emergency management, emergency administration or emergency technology, as well as other medical fields. Online degree and certificate programs are also growing rapidly and may represent a flexible option for busy providers. Sites such as the following can assist aspiring providers in determining exactly what's out there and feasible for them:
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredits educational programs in almost two dozen health-science occupations, including EMT/paramedic, and maintains lists of accredited associate, baccalaureate and master degree programs at its website.