A Novel Idea: Combine EMS and PA Training for a New Kind of Job


Do you know the professional differences between a paramedic and physician assistant (PA)? If so, do you also know that both types of professionals undergo similar training? Here’s a novel idea: combine EMS and PA training to create an entirely new kind of PA job.

The EMS1 website recently published a fascinating article written by a man who is trained as both a paramedic and PA. David Wright received his EMS training first, then went on to be trained as a PA while working as a paramedic. He fully supports the idea of combining training to create a new position known as the paramedic practitioner.

Types of Emergency Medical Providers

Wright explained in his piece that there are four different types of emergency medical providers according to standards developed in 2013. The entry-level provider is the emergency medical responder (EMR) who undergoes up to 60 hours of training to provide life-saving care to critically ill patients.

EMRs are followed by emergency medical technicians (EMTs). An EMT receives up to 190 hours of training that allow him or her to provide a greater scope of emergency care. The third level is that of advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT), a professional who receives up to 250 hours of training to provide even more advanced care.

Last but not least is the paramedic. The paramedic typically completes roughly 1,000 hours of training to provide advanced emergency care for critically ill patients. Paramedics are also trained in safe patient transport and can perform basic and advanced interventions.

Wright’s contention is that it makes sense to combine the paramedic’s bachelor’s degree with the PA’s master’s degree to fulfill the role of paramedic practitioner (EMS PA). Such a role would give practitioners the ability to go above and beyond emergency medical care to also provide additional primary care just as a PA in an office would do.

More Opportunities for Work

Wright further contends that creating new PA jobs by combining the two professions would create more opportunities for work. It would answer the frustration many paramedics voice over not having access to career advancement opportunities.

One can look at what Wright proposes and conclude that he makes a legitimate case. Combining EMS and PA training to create a new kind of PA job is both possible and plausible. But is it necessary? Furthermore, is there a legitimate need for such a role under our current healthcare system?

New Specialties Create Special Needs

One argument against Wright’s proposal is the suggestion that new specialties often create special needs. Look no further than the internist. Decades ago, the internist could fill the role of family practitioner, emergency room physician, or pediatrician. Internists were all-purpose doctors in the absence of more specialized options.

Once the physician community began embracing specialization, patient needs suddenly changed. Now it is no longer good enough for parents to take their newborn baby to the family doctor. That baby must be seen by a pediatrician for the first few months of life, at the very least.

Creating a new type of PA job that combines EMS and PA training could change the way we view emergency medical providers. It could create an entirely new specialty with its own job category on internet boards like Health Jobs Nationwide.

There are few practical reasons suggesting that combining EMS and PA training cannot be done. It most likely can, and with exceptionally good results. But should it be done? Is there a good reason for doing so? That is up to the medical community to figure out.