As your NREMT written exam day looms closer, you may find yourself navigating the complicated regulations surrounding your certification as an EMT or Paramedic. Here are a few important facts about certification:
1. National certification is issued through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, or NREMT.
Obvious, but important! No doubt you’ve seen this acronym used to describe your upcoming certification exam, but it actually refers to the entire certification body.
As their mission statement describes, the National Registry provides a uniform process to assess and maintain the skills competency of EMS professionals. Since its inception in 1970, the agency has shaped the culture and standards of EMS across the United States.
2. The National Registry can only grant certification--it doesn’t license you to practice.
The distinction between licensure and certification is a tricky one, especially with some states calling their state licensure “certification.” In short, certification is recognition by a private body that indicates you’ve met a level of competency, while licensure is the state’s recognition that you are legally authorized to practice.
That’s not to say EMS providers practice independently--EMTs and Paramedics are authorized to work under the medical license of the medical director at their respective employer.
The NREMT website has a great article that describes all the legal details of this distinction.
3. A few states in the union don’t recognize the NREMT as a prerequisite for licensure.
Namely New York, Wyoming, Illinois, and North Carolina. Massachusetts recently adopted NREMT reciprocity.
4. Each state has different certification standards, and if you move to a new state, you will need to conform to new requirements.
If you live in Indiana, but always dreamed of moving to Chicago, heads up: most states require you to meet specific state-by-state requirements for licensure. Check your state’s EMS office website for the exact requirements.
5. Once you gain state licensure, many states don’t require you to maintain your NREMT certification.
Different states require varying amounts of continuing education hours to maintain state licensure, and if you meet the requirements outlined by your home state, it’s possible that you may not have to maintain your NREMT certification.
That said, if you move to a new state, beware: most states require NREMT Certification to receive initial state licensure. The NREMT created this really helpful map to clarify where your state stands on this matter. Without current NREMT certification, you may have to enroll in a refresher course and retake your NREMT exam. And who wants to go through that twice if you can avoid it?
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