Primary care paramedics (PCPs) are healthcare professionals that provide pre-hospital treatments to patients. They work in ambulances and transfer patients to hospitals. If you’ve always wanted to help others, a career as a PCP may be right for you.
If you’re interested in a career as a paramedic, you may be wondering how you can enter this exciting field. Here are some of the requirements to become a PCP in Ontario.
Qualities to Become a Paramedic
There are some important qualities that you’ll need to have a successful career as a PCP. The ability to stay calm in stressful situations is a major advantage. You’ll be treating people in chaotic situations like accidents or disasters, and you’ll need to be able to stay calm and make critical decisions. Critical thinking skills are also key. You’ll need to quickly identify problems and find the right solutions.
A strong stomach is another asset for an aspiring PCP. If you get queasy when you see blood or other bodily fluids, you may not enjoy working as a PCP.
Graduate from a Diploma Program
To become a PCP in Ontario, you need to graduate from a paramedic diploma program. A diploma program will teach you the theoretical and practical skills you need to succeed in the field.
In your diploma program, you’ll learn theory, like anatomy and pharmacology, during in-class sessions. You’ll learn hands-on skills through laboratory sessions. During hands-on sessions, students learn how to assess injuries, administer pre-hospital care, and transport patients. By the time you finish your course, you’ll be familiar with the scenarios you’ll encounter in the real world.
Pass a Certification Exam
After you graduate from a paramedic diploma program, you’re one step closer to becoming a PCP. The next step is to pass the provincial certification exam. This exam, called the Advanced Emergency Medical Care Assistant (A-EMCA) exam, tests your PCP skill set.
You’ll be quizzed on various scenarios that you’ll encounter on the job as a PCP. If you pass the test, you’ll officially be a PCP. If you don’t pass, you can try again.
Learn to Drive an Ambulance
To become a paramedic, you need to have a driver’s licence. Specifically, you need a class of license that allows you to drive an ambulance. In Ontario, you need a Class F license to drive an ambulance. You’ll need to pass a knowledge test and a road test to get this type of licence.
Having an ambulance licence isn’t enough on its own. You also need to be a good driver. In the three years before you start work as a PCP, you can’t have had your licence taken away. You also can’t have had received four or more demerit points in the year before you start work.
If you’re planning to become a PCP, be very careful to follow road rules.
Maintain Physical Fitness
There are some physical requirements for becoming a PCP. As a PCP, you’ll need to lift people who aren’t able to walk by themselves. You’ll need to manoeuver heavy stretchers. For these reasons, paramedics can be expected to lift and carry objects that are at least 100 pounds (45 kilograms).
You also need to have enough endurance to kneel in uncomfortable positions or repeatedly bend over. Being a PCP is a physical job, and you need to have the energy to treat patients all day long. If you’re not in great shape, you may struggle with your duties as a PCP. Some college programs have fitness standards for admittance, so it’s a good idea to work on your fitness.