Training vs Education

Right now Paramedics are just that, pets to the healthcare system. You are trained like a Dog, so you get to work like a Dog and get paid like a Dog. Yes, once in awhile they will add new skills, and perhaps award you another paper certificate of completion (like Dog Training School). For those insecure enough to need more, they might even throw in a new letter or two for your title. But please, do not get these Training Programs confused with Education. Training teaches you what to DO Education teaches you how to THINK. Professionals are Educated, not Trained.

A college-level specialty education is one of the hallmarks of being a true professional. Professionals have degrees, not certificates. Professionals don’t use time clocks. If being professional was only a description of behavior, than most of the Paramedics I know are true professionals.

But the healthcare world sees us as little more than ambulance drivers, trained monkeys who follow rigid protocols and work for bananas. If we would do the hard thing and demand a real education, this would fix itself in only a few short years. Increase the educational requirements and the available workforce would suddenly drop.

Then the economics of supply and demand would exert its influence to increase wages dramatically. More good people would stay in the field, and with their improved education and experience they would provide better patient care. The real impact on healthcare costs would be pocket change. Actually, we could CUT healthcare costs by increasing pre-hospital pay, and I’ll share why in a later blog.

We should keep our best and brightest, and use their valuable experience to save lives. We all know how much turnover EMS has, and for very good reason. You can make more money sitting in a tollbooth giving change.

Everyone has to grow up sometime; I know I did when my kids came along. Only by demanding an education equal to our responsibilities will we advance our standing in the healthcare world.

Some will say it is too much and they will protest they don’t have the time or money. But only with the education of a true professional will we ever be able to stop begging for treats.


About Dan White

I'm a retired Paramedic and EMS Instructor with 35 years EMS and emergency medical product experience. I love canoes, cars and EMS. I have written a lot about EMS Technology on the Paramedic Blog, the Insights on Innovation column for, on and I can be reached directly at 573-240-0002.
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5 Responses to Training vs Education

  1. Unknown says:

    Also, if a pedestrian is performing CPR when you arrive, do you let him continue or take over?

  2. Unknown says:

    I think it merits serious consideration. It seems to combine the best of several worlds, all while doing what is best for the patient and their family and cutting costs. Just another reason why paramedics are some of the best thinkers I know of.

  3. Ty says:

    I am one of the trained monkeys, working for bananas for a private ambulance company. While I recognize your points as valid, a degree alone does not make you a professional. How many times have you run a call to a "care facility" only to shake your head at the " care being provided by the RN when you arrive? Have you seen the altered patient that upon exam of documents turns out to be diabetic, but the RN on duty never checked the blood sugar?How about the Difficulty breathing patient, with O2 sat in the 60\’s on a non-rebreather at 4 liters/min O2 when yo get on scene? Not enough to even inflate the bag?Ongoing education is paramount to this job, but a degree alone does not make a professional, or increase the standard of care. I am severely underpaid because our parent company is all about their bottom line, and is not concerned with keeping long term, quality, experienced professionals. We can be replaced, at a lower cost, by 20 something\’s right out of school. The public does not know, or care that the EMT here makes $8.50/hr to start, and gets a 23 cent annual raise. No wonder I tested for the post office. I can make $17.50 /hr delivering the mail.

  4. Dan says:

    You are absolutely correct; a degree itself does not make you a professional. Your pay scale does. The biggest single reason to increase educational requirements is to cut the available supply of Paramedics. If you drastically cut supply, it will result in them all getting paid much better. The quality of care delivered would be improved by several factors,The expanded scope of practice would facilitate shorter waiting times for definitive care to be delivered, at a lower overall cost. The increased pay could draw sharp young minds into the field improving care. You really make my case for me. Why would a smart, educated young guy or gal get into a field paying 8$ an hour? Only the most dedicated, deranged, ADHD afflicted do-gooders, that have completely lost their minds get into or stay in this field -Like Us :>)

  5. Ty says:

    "Only the most dedicated, deranged, ADHD afflicted do-gooders, that have completely lost their minds get into or stay in this field "Painfully true!

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