The following abstract was developed during the 2011 Research Summit and won Best Presentation at the 2011 NAEMSE Symposium in Reno, NV.

Paramedic Program Entrance Exams as a Predictor of Student Success

Todd Cage, M.Ed., NREMT-P; Heather Davis, MS, NREMT-P; Steve Asche, E., MA; Pauline Van Meurs, MS, LP; David Waltz, BA, NREMT-P

Introduction: Participation in paramedic education can be costly and stressful. Programs are often judged on attrition and have limited resources for advising and remediation. Predicting students who are good candidates for paramedic training would be helpful to students, sponsoring employers and the programs themselves. Some have suggested that reading and science scores are linked to success. Some entrance exams have been used but there is no evidence to suggest what these exams should screen for, or if such screening is useful.

Hypothesis: Basic education and stress level scores on a paramedic program entrance exam predict paramedic student success.

Methods: Two programs using the FISDAP® (Headwaters Software Inc., St. Paul, MN) tracking system and the Health Occupations Basic Entrance Test (HOBET-ATI, Stilwell, KS) were identified. The HOBET is a standardized admission exam designed to evaluate a potential student’s ability to enter and successfully complete an allied health education program. Participating programs reported student results on the HOBET, FISDAP® comprehensive paramedic exam (CPE), and, if appropriate, cause for attrition. Logistic regression was performed to determine which section of the HOBET (math, reading, science, critical thinking, stress) was most predictive of first time success on the CPE. Only de-identified data from students who signed informed consent was included. IRB approval was obtained from Inver Hills Community College.

Results: This study considered data from 280 students. An analysis of each section of the HOBET finds that the basic science score is significant (OR=1.06, 95% CI: 1.03-1.09). Due to a change in test structure basic science scores were not available for all students, resulting in a smaller sample size of 147. Of this sample 46% (68 students) passed the CPE on the first attempt. A separate logistic regression analysis excluding basic science scores showed no significant association between passing the CPE and the other sections of the HOBET (Wald chi square (5 df)=7.5, p=0.18).