In this article, we’re going to explore the many ways you can become an Army paramedic. We’ll also discuss what job life is like for medics in the Army, as well as discuss the training and educational paths you need to take if you want to pursue this unique career.
Individuals begin their career path in combat medicine at varying points during their lives; some have completed a basic EMT education or continued onward to receive their NREMT-Paramedic certification before choosing a career in the military, while others have chosen to enlist and receive their training during the course of an Army Career.
While civilians working in medicine can pursue a career as an Army medic without an actual enlistment, the possibilities for ranking, as well as income, are more limited than those that have chosen the solider to paramedic path.
A combat paramedic provides emergency care both at home and during times of deployment, which can lead to exciting opportunities and challenges during their career. Similar to those working in civilian paramedic positions, a paramedic in the Army must be prepared for work that is fast-paced. You also would need to have a strong desire to care for patients.
In addition, an Army paramedic will be expected to be in physically fit condition and meet specific Army requirements for ongoing training. The incentives for this type of work, in addition to an environment that can provide personal job satisfaction, include up to $99,000 per year in compensation. This is made up of approximately 60% non-cash compensation and a salary.
Army paramedics can expect to receive:
- Health care
- Retirement Pay
- Child Care
- Free or subsided food
Each new recruit wishing to purse a medical career in the army must first complete the Army’s standard requirements before they may begin the path towards a combat paramedic career.
Currently, the Army does not have a separate program for NREMT-P certification, though an individual can work as a combat medic without taking this test. Dedicated soldiers choose to pursue this certification during their own time, in addition to military training and education, and it is recommended to build a competitive resume.
The basic path to a career in combat medicine will include the following steps, with the option of NREMT-P certification:
- Basic Combat Training (BCT)
- Advanced Individual Training (AIT)
- Ongoing Training (Medical Training)
- Self-Study period for the NREMT-P Certification Test
- Continued Training and Education
Basic Combat Training
Individuals join the military to purse a combat medic career at all stages of professional life. While it is not required, many individuals choose to complete the basic EMT-B training and certification, as well as gain some experience in the field before enlistment.
Completion of the basic EMT-B course will include taking courses in EMT training, combining didactic classroom education with hands-on training in the form of internships. Once the courses have been completed, up to 6 months of self-study using educational materials is recommended before taking the NREMT test for certification.
The first step in a military career for all recruits, regardless of the profession they choose, is to complete the 10 week basic combat training. There are four phases the individual will complete during this training–the introduction week, the red phase, the white phase and the blue phase before graduating to the next level of military training.
It is during this time that individuals learn basic tactics and survival skills, as well as how to shoot and march. In addition, new recruits receive an education in military life that includes the seven core army values. Once basic training has been completed, soldiers will move on to Advanced Individual Training to continue their career path.
Advanced Individual Training
Once basic combat training has been complete, soldiers then continue their education and training in the specific field they have chosen to pursue. Though medical training is reserved for ongoing training only, each individual must choose from one of the 17 advanced individual training programs available in order to continue onward towards a combat paramedic career.
Upon completion, the solider will then seek employment in their specific field of training before moving towards ongoing training. These programs range from engineering and transportation services to general and infantry schools.
In order to encourage additional training, the Army compensation for working in the medical field can include a variety of educational benefits. These benefits include the possibly for tuition reinvestment for attending college, or assistance in paying off previously acquired student loan debts, merit-based scholarships, assistance with books and fees as well as an annual stipend. This allows those dedicated soldiers to continue their paramedic education once AIT has been completed, assisting the individual in receiving a NREMT-P certification.
Taking the ASVAB Testing for Qualification
Those wishing to pursue training in the medical field for AIT must have at least a 101 score in skilled technical and a general technical score of 107 or more to be accepted into the program.
The ASVAB test is given to all soldiers who have successfully graduated from BCT in order to assist them in the placement process for advanced individual training. Each area of AIT training has a minimum score that must be met in order to qualify for that specific program.
The ASVAB, or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, gauges the individual’s knowledge in ten specific areas and is used by soldiers in making decisions towards their military career of choice.
There are no study guides for this test and preparation is limited to prior knowledge the individual has already acquired. The ASVAB will gauge an individual’s abilities in the following areas through a series of ten short tests administered over a three hour time period:
- General Science
- Word Knowledge
- Arithmetic Reasoning
- Paragraph Comprehension
- Auto shop
- Object Assembly
After completion of the advanced individual training, individual’s can find employment as a combat medic through job placement assistance. This will assist the solider in finding placement within the army, working in the field of emergency medicine.
However, ongoing training is also recommended once job placement is complete. This can include either leadership training courses or specialty schools to increase the individual’s medical education. Students will train with the Army Medical Department, or AMEDD, which ranges from research to emergency care. Those individuals pursuing an Army paramedic career will elect to join the 68w Health Care Specialist training.
Soldiers that pursue the medical field must meet specific requirements in order to qualify for the training program and positon. These requirements include personality type, physical fitness and testing scores to assure that the right individual is pursuing the career.
Individuals should have an ability to effectively communicate and possess a high attention to detail, enjoy patient care and have an interest in such educational areas like chemistry, biology, general science and even psychology. In addition, the solider must complete the 10 weeks of basic combat training and 16 weeks of advanced individual training.
This 16 week training program will teach the individual the necessary medical care required to become a combat medic and includes:
- Patient Care Techniques
- Emergency Medical Care
- Additional Emergency Care
Though the three stages of military training, BCT, AIT and ongoing will allow the individual to pursue a career as combat medicine, many soldiers elect to continue their education and work towards a NREMT-P paramedic certification.
Military training within the AMEDD will provide the solider with the EMT-B certification as well as certification in CPR during the training courses. In order to complete the NREMT-P certification however, individuals will be required to complete the education and testing processes outside of military training.
This can be accomplished by enrolling in a University or Technical schools’ accredited paramedic training courses. This will provide the student with advanced medical care education through in-class lessons and required 200 to 500 hours of field training through internships and other programs.
There are several ways to complete this education, including traditional classroom educational courses, online courses for the in-class portions as well as newly developing accelerated training courses which allow the individual to complete the in class training in as short as 15 weeks.
While some debate surrounds the usage of both online and accelerated training, those soldiers that have received their ongoing training and EMT-B certification, as well as some field experience, may benefit from these alternatives as employment is always a possibility.
Interruptions, such as deployment, can lengthen the process through standard educational settings. It will be up to your discretion as to which type of education is right for your specific needs.
Regardless of the in-classroom educational setting, all paths will still require you to complete the expected field training hours.
Similar to the EMT-B test, individuals that have completed their paramedic education will then prepare for the NREMT-P examination in order to receive their certification. At least 6 months of self-study preparation for this test is also recommended in order to increase the likelihood of a passing score.
In order to qualify for testing, the individual must complete paramedic training courses and field training through an accredited school and have a valid EMT-B license. The test will score the soldier’s knowledge and abilities in advanced medical care including such areas as:
- Airway, Respiration and Ventilation
- Cardiology and Resuscitation
- Medical and Obstetrics/Genecology
- EMS Operations
- Patient Assessment
- Ventilator and Cardiac Patient Management
- IV and Medication Skills
- Pediatric Skills
- Oral Station
Pursuing a career as a combat medic takes a considerable amount of education and training, but can be a rewarding choice for those with a passion for patient care and medical operations. Additional opportunities exist beyond basic combat paramedic positions through further education in the medical field and leadership training courses offered within the military, including a career in flight paramedics.
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