A health minister in Canada is focusing on the poor first time pass rates for paramedics on their provincial paramedic exam. While the provincial association says the average is 80 percent passing on the first attempt, one program is hovering around 57 percent passing on the first time around. Is this really such a cause for alarm?
Reading farther into the story, it seems that the paramedics in question go straight from a clinical rotation on the street to their written test. This is not a good idea, as one interviewee in the article mention. Any of us who have taken an NREMT exam or a state or local paramedic or EMT test will say that the test doesn’t say as much about what happens in the field as it does about what we have retained from our classroom studies.
Students in EMS programs spend a great deal of time studying a large number of facts that they will seldom, if ever, use. We all know that many of our cases are standard, sick person transports and that very few are the so-called “juicy” ambulance calls that really test our knowledge and skills. The average clinical rotation in the field may only see one or two critical patients.
This is one of the reasons that we spend so much time in continuing education between re-certifications. These classes don’t just help us to learn new skills and information. The con-ed classes help us to remember seldom used skills and knowledge between those times when we might use them. Sometimes you can use the upcoming schedule of classes to help you choose your program of study.
When is the last time you did a chest decompression? If it’s been a while, time for a thoracic trauma class or perhaps a special airway skills class. For BLS providers, how about administering an EpiPen injection?
It’s one of the reasons I select the topics for the MedicCast each week. Last week’s episode that covered the EpiPen is an example of all that is usually needed by most to refresh their memories. We all need to review our ems skills whether we’ve used them recently or not.
Got a topic you’d like to see covered on the MedicCast? Contact me and let me know what you’d like to see or hear about in an upcoming episode.