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Degrees for a Career in Emergency Medical Care

Emergency medical care providers have many training and degree options from which to choose. Understanding top degree programs in emergency medical care can help you select an educational path that will lead you to the career of your choice.

Entering the Field through Training Programs

If you have a high-school diploma and want to enter the field of emergency medical care with a minimal amount of education, look for emergency medical technician (EMT) training programs. These programs are generally offered at three levels--basic, intermediate, and paramedic. These programs prepare you to take the state licensure examination, which is required to work as an EMT.

Associate's Degree is a Degree for Paramedics

Paramedics, who have the highest level of training, often find that an associate's degree in EMS or paramedic technology with a paramedic certificate is the best degree in emergency medical care. Usually offered through vocational and community colleges, an associate's degree provides future paramedics with the foundational knowledge they need in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, and advanced medical skills.

The Baccalaureate: The College Degree for the Next Generation of EMS Professionals

Among emergency medical services (EMS) professionals, there is a call for EMTs entering the field to obtain a higher level of education through bachelor's degrees. Why? Because, they argue, the next generation of EMS professionals will need:

  • Knowledge of both the practical and theoretical underpinnings of EMS
  • Knowledge of and experience with evidence-based medicine
  • The ability to think and read critically, communicate effectively, and analyze complex situations and systems

While your specific major can be less important than the skills you develop, the best degree programs offer concentrations in EMS.

Master's Degrees Are Degrees for Aspiring Managers

Master's degrees are increasingly sought by experienced EMS professionals looking to work in EMS management, operations, and finance. Following is a list of the top degrees in emergency medical care at a master's level:

  • Master of Public Health (MPH). Some MPH programs offer a concentration in public health preparedness, which is a top college degree if you want to work in EMS management.
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA). This can be the best degree for those seeking to work in EMS systems operation, planning, or finance.
  • Master of Public Administration (MPA). This degree is considered a basic degree for city department heads and city or state executive positions.

Degrees at a Doctoral Level

EMS professionals seeking to obtain the highest degree of education will find options at a doctoral level.

  • A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in health science, medical psychology, or public health are top degree choices for advanced EMS researchers and teachers at a college level.
  • A Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) can lead to a high-level career in EMS administration, teaching, or practice.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, emergency medical care could be a good career choice: employment is projected to grow 9 percent from 2008 through 2018. EMS professionals with advanced education and certifications should have the best job prospects.

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