Authors: Daniel Armstrong, DPT; Jackson D. Déziel, PhD, MPA, NRP; Sarah Glass; Angela Finney; Glen Keating; Lisa Glegg; Christopher Metsgar, MBA, MS, NRP

Introduction: A lack of standardization among paramedic programs has long been identified as one of the most significant problems in prehospital education. One example of this lack of standardization is program length and density. According to the National Emergency Medical Services Standard Curriculum, the length of a paramedic program is estimated to take approximately 1,000-1,200 hours. These hours may be delivered over months or years affecting program density. This study was designed to determine whether paramedic program length and density have an effect on paramedic student success.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of Fisdap educational data was conducted. A total of 3,268 paramedic student records from October 2012 to January 2019 were examined. This study used student performance on the summative Fisdap Paramedic Readiness Exam version 3 (PRE3) as the measure of student success. Elasticity functions were estimated to determine whether course length (in months) and/or course density (field and clinical hours per month) was related to performance on the PRE3 summative exam.

Results: Course length (ß=0.027, p=0.001) and course density (ß=0.032, p<0.000) were both statistically significant contributors to paramedic student success on the PRE3. Course density had a greater positive effect on student success than course length. For a 10% increase in course density, student scores on the PRE3 increased by 0.32%. Similarly, for a 10% increase in course length, student scores on the PRE3 increased by 0.27%.

Conclusion: A positive correlation exists between the length and the density of a paramedic program and scores on a summative paramedic exam. This study highlights the importance of length and concentration of a paramedic student’s educational experience.