Paramedic License or EMTP Certification?

ems paramedic questionsThis content is from the Authorized Transmissions newsletter, but I thought it would be great to pull it out and highlight it all on it’s own.

When it comes to being a licensed paramedic or a certified EMTP, opinions vary and it will depend on who you talk to.

Certification: Agency or association grants recognition

Licensure: Governmental agency’s competency standards are met

Now when you think about it, for most states it is one and the same. Even states that require NREMT “certification” still mandate that you take a state exam or meet state standards to be considered competent to practice as a paramedic in that state.

From the NREMT website “…Licensure, .. is the state’s grant of legal authority, pursuant to the state’s police powers, to practice a profession within a designated scope of practice. Under the licensure system, states define, by statute, the tasks and function or scope of practice of a profession and provide that these tasks may be legally only by those who are licensed.

As such, licensure prohibits anyone from practicing the profession who is not licensed, regardless of whether or not the individual has been certified by a private organization.”

So, what’s in a name then? Especially if both descriptions are interchangeable and more importantly any state allowing you to work as a paramedic is giving “license” to do it.

Well that is just it. Some states like NY and NJ have been getting petitioned for years to change the identification from certification to license, but for some reason it just has not happened.

What’s the hold up?

Resistance due to education levels? Fears of infringing on other healthcare fields? Perhaps even those EMS insiders who like things just the way they are?

However you look at it. The bottom line in my opinion is that the paramedic profession should be licensed.

States cannot continue to dictate requirements and keep it noted as a certification in order to keep other professions happy.

Nationwide, paramedics should hold licensure and if need be, individual states can set specific requirements for that region in order for that paramedic to work and practice within a set scope or guidelines.

Government agencies need to remove all mention of certification from paramedic programs and gear all education and testing to a licensure format. If that means making exams more difficult, setting higher continuing education requirements and holding individuals to a higher standard overall, then so be it.

I think that this would be a move in the right direction for EMS as a whole and a step that is relatively easy to implement.

Listen, I don’t have the answers to this or know why with a certainty the word license is not the accepted rule.

Maybe we shouldn’t be putting too much energy into this to begin with since in the end it’s just a word.

The reality is that, no matter what the state calls it, a state issued “license” or “certificate” is functionally the same and is a “license”.

The difference to be aware of is that while the terms might be interchangeable for what a state calls it, non-government agencies like the NREMT, are certificates since licenses grant an official privilege (like the ability to drive or practice medicine) whereas a certification is simply a non-government agency saying that you have met their standards (like NREMT, AHA, PHTLS).

What do you think? Does it matter?

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