Paramedic Certification Requirements in Arizona
Arizona paramedics are certified by the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services & Trauma System, under the banner of the Arizona Department of Health Services. ‘Paramedic’ is the highest level of Emergency Care Medical Technician (EMCT) certification. Professionals achieve this designation after completing approved programs and passing cognitive and practical skills assessments.
Select an Arizona Paramedic Topic:
- Paramedic Educational Requirements
- Examination Requirements
- The Application Process
- Community Paramedicine
- Additional Information: Contacts for State and Local Agencies, Education Options & Other Helpful Resources
Like other states, Arizona has set minimum standards for paramedic programs operating within its borders. In order to train as a paramedic, a student must have completed training at the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) level or higher. The program director may accept evidence of 1) licensure 2) national certification or 3) completion of a program that is Department-approved or equivalent.
Generally, a paramedic program must be at least 1,000 hours and must include at least 500 hours of didactic and practical skills training and 500 hours of clinicals and field training. An exception is made for programs designed for individuals who are already certified by the Department at the EMT-Intermediate (99) level. In this instance, the program may be 600 hours. A program of this type will need to include at least 220 hours of didactic and practical skills training and 380 hours of clinicals and field training. A student who opts for this type of program will need at least 60 hours of anatomy and physiology. Anatomy and physiology may be required as a prerequisite or integrated into the course of study.
At course conclusion, students can expect to take a practical skills test that reflects national paramedic standards and prepares them for the national certification examination. They can also expect to take a multiple choice test that meets standards delineated in the state rule book (http://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/emergency-medical-services-trauma-system/index.php#regulatory-references).
Prospective students should be aware that in order to be eligible for national certification, they will need to complete paramedic programs that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or, at minimum, been issued Letters of Review; a Letter of Review signifies that a program has taken initial steps toward CAAHEP accreditation. National certification greatly increases portability of credentials.
Most CAAHEP-accredited Arizona programs are located in colleges (http://www.caahep.org/Find-An-Accredited-Program/). One is housed in a medical center, another in a fire department. The accredited fire department program is in Phoenix; Phoenix has a long tradition of cross-training firefighters as EMTs and paramedics.
Arizona has provided information about school pass rate on the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam (http://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/emergency-medical-services-trauma-system/index.php#training). In 2014, Arizona graduates achieved an 86% first-time pass rate. This compares to 77% nationwide.
Arizona code states that an EMCT may be certified on the basis of either 1) registration through a national certification agency or 2) completion of a statewide program and successful performance, within the prior two years, on a standardized statewide examination such as is described in the rule book. However, students can generally expect that they will be taking the NREMT examination and achieving certification. There are two components to the examination process. One is a practical skills test. The individual program will be a resource for knowing when and where to complete this requirement. The test may be held on-site. It will, however, meet NREMT standards. There will be changes in 2017 to the test organization; the intent is to require future paramedics to integrate their skills in a manner reflective of the real world. The NREMT has provided information about both versions of the test (https://www.nremt.org/nremt/about/reg_para_history.asp).
The cognitive test is computer-adapted and is made available through Pearson assessment services. A graduate will need to register through the NREMT and have his or her eligibility determined. The application process can be carried out online (https://www.nremt.org). There is a $110 examination fee. The program director is responsible for confirming that the student successfully completed the program.
A candidate who fails an attempt at the cognitive examination will need to pay $110 to retest.
The Arizona Bureau of Emergency Medical Services & Trauma has provided a document listing Arizona sites where the computerized NREMT test is administered (http://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/emergency-medical-services-trauma-system/index.php#emct-certification). The list includes sites in the following cities:
- Lake Havasu
- Sierra Vista
Testing sites include colleges as well as Pearson Professional Centers. Test availability is subject to change.
The Application Process
The Arizona application process is now online. The applicant will need to have a scanned copy of a document that establishes work eligibility and, if applicable, scanned copies of documents pertaining to criminal or disciplinary history. The applicant will need to be prepared to enter his or her certification information.
An individual who is already certified in Arizona at a lower EMCT level will use the online system to upgrade. The EMCT is directed to select “NREMT certification” as the education attestation type.
The Bureau of Emergency Medical Services & Trauma System has provided a series of informational PDFs to walk applicants through the process of using the online system (http://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/emergency-medical-services-trauma-system/index.php#emct-certification).
Applicants are advised to make sure that they have provided the Department with current email information.
The renewal cycle is two years. There are multiple pathways to demonstrate continuing training and competency; one is current national registration.
Arizona, like a number of other states, is exploring how community paramedics can be used to reduce the demand for emergency services (http://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/emergency-medical-services-trauma-system/index.php#community-paramedicine-home).
Certification information is available from the Arizona Department of Health Services (http://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/emergency-medical-services-trauma-system/index.php). Applicants may call 602-364-3150 or 1-800-200-8523 to speak with a customer service representative.