If you're working as an EMT or paramedic, free time can be scarce. Still, EMTs, paramedics and other public safety workers are required to regularly renew their professional certifications to practice in the field. This can typically be done either by completing a certain number of continuing education (CE) credits or by re-taking (and passing) a National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) recertification exam.
With so much on your plate, though, how can you find the time to dedicate to recertification? Fortunately, there are some practical tips you can follow to complete your EMS recertification quickly and efficiently.
Understanding Recertification Requirements
Start by knowing where you stand. Each state has different requirements for EMS recertification. However, most states require EMTs to renew their certification once every two years. Check the requirements in the specific state where you're licensed to make sure you understand your obligations.
The easiest and most accurate way to determine the expiration date for your EMS certification is to log into your NREMT account. On the front page, you should see an expiration date for your current certificate.
Generally, recertification for emergency medical services personnel occurs during the first quarter of the year. While renewal options can vary from one state to the next, EMS personnel have the following options:
- Renew certification by completing CE hours.
- Paramedic: 60 hours
- AEMT: 50 hours
- EMT: 40 hours
- EMR: 16 hours
- Renew certification by passing the NREMT recertification exam.
Finding Time for EMS Recertification: Tips and Tricks
Many EMS personnel opt to complete their renewals by completing CE. While it does require some additional time up front, this tends to be the less stressful option because it doesn't add unwanted stress to pass a formal exam. Plus, not all states allow EMS personnel to retake the exam if they should fail at the first attempt. Opting to complete CE coursework gives all EMS personnel the freedom to choose which areas of study are the most interesting or applicable to their own career interests—so they can advance their knowledge, skills, and abilities.
So, how do EMS personnel find the time to complete their recertification coursework? With most states requiring a minimum of 40 CE hours for EMTs, this can feel like a daunting task. Especially when you consider the busy workload of the average EMT which can consist of 24- or even 48-hour shifts routinely.
At the end of the day, it's all about finding ways to manage your time. This starts with being aware of your EMS certificate's expiration date and planning your CE hours in advance. Avoid waiting until your certification is just a few weeks from expiring to develop your game plan for renewal; this will create stress that could be avoided if you were to give yourself as much time as possible to complete your CE credits. Starting early as possible after your certification renewal would allow you to chip away at the CE hours gradually, rather than trying to cram them in a short period of time.
This might mean blocking off time in your busy schedule to complete a few credits here and there. Finding an EMS recertification program that's designed with the busy schedule of EMS personnel in mind can make all the difference. Rather than finding time to attend CE events in-person, consider remote options that allow you to complete recertification coursework from the convenience of a computer or mobile device. This way, you'll essentially be able to take your recertification materials with you on-the-go. You might even be able to squeeze in some continuing education on-the-job while at the station or being posted in a remote location with a little time to kill.
Ultimately, finding time to dedicate to EMS recertification coursework is all about chipping away at your CE credits whenever the opportunity presents itself. It's also about maintaining that same discipline you needed when you were studying for your initial EMS certification exam. You could stay motivated by giving yourself a small reward with each CE course you complete. Anything that will keep you focused and energized is fair game—but remember that the ultimate goal is being able to maintain your certification for another two years.
Get Started with Your Recertification Today
Making time to complete your EMS recertification coursework isn't easy, but it's necessary to maintain your certification and continue working in the field. The good news? Recert makes recertifying easier and more convenient than ever to complete CE credits with online/remote coursework that's as engaging as it is affordable. With game-based courses, live-patient videos, scenarios, simulations, and more, Recert offers more than 200 interactive continuing education courses covering all national and state components. And with topics ranging from public health and EMS operations to airway/ventilation, trauma, medical, OB/pediatrics, geriatrics, and pharmacology, you'll have access to today's most relevant and evidence based medical information.
Find out more about Recert today by browsing our course catalog or reaching out to our team or request a free demo.
Also, I would encourage you to become a Recert subscriber. With a Recert subscription you’ll get an entire year of unlimited access to our best-in-class content. See for yourself just how easy completing your EMS recertification coursework can be—even if your free time is scarce!
About the Author:
John Phelps DBA, DS, ACHE, NRP, is an Editorial Advisory Board member for Recert. Dr. Phelps is an Assistant Professor at Our Lady of The Lake University in San Antonio and a healthcare and data consultant for multiple organizations.
Dr. Phelps is a Veteran of the U.S. Army and has over 23 years of experience in the healthcare industry as a healthcare provider and leader. He holds a doctorate in business administration and a postgraduate certificate in Data Science and Business Analytics. Dr. Phelps has developed numerous healthcare education programs and publications. He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT). Dr. Phelps is also an NAEMT State Education Coordinator for Texas and a Mentor for NAEMT’s Lighthouse Leadership Program Committee.