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Paramedic Certification Requirements in Massachusetts

Massachusetts paramedics are state certified by the Massachusetts Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS). State certification is comparable to licensure. Paramedics must past written and practical examinations. In most cases, they apply for national certification before making application to the OEMS.

Select a Massachusetts Paramedic Topic:

Educational Requirements

Programs located within Massachusetts must be accredited by the Office of Emergency Medical Services. OEMS has provided a list of programs (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/oems/emt-training-inst/).

Massachusetts programs include didactic and laboratory work, clinical internship, and field internship. The field internship is initiated after all other requirements, including clinical internship, have been met. The field internship will be at least 80 hours and will include at least 30 Advanced Life Support (ALS) patient contacts.

Massachusetts has set minimum performance standards. A prospective paramedic must have 100% success in his or her last 20 attempts at airway management; this is one area where attempts can be accomplished using other than live patients – for example, simulators.

Out-of-state graduates who believe they have met similar standards may apply as initial applicants in Massachusetts. The process is described in the document “Paramedic Certification Based on Out-of-State Paramedic (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/oems/emt/regulations/public-health-oems-administrative-requirements.html).

Students must complete programs that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (or seeking accreditation) in order to be nationally certified by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Massachusetts will currently state-certify graduates of some non-accredited programs, provided they pass qualifying examinations. However, this is not the case with all states, and may be an option for only a limited time period.

The CAAHEP website includes a directory of all programs around the nation that hold accreditation or have been granted Letters of Review. There are many Massachusetts programs. The Letter of Review indicates that a program is seeking accreditation and has taken the necessary first steps.

The Examination Process

A prospective paramedic who is eligible for national certification will complete NREMT psychomotor (practical) and written examinations. The psychomotor examination tests a number of skills, including trauma assessment and cardiac management with ECG. Paramedic students should be aware that there will be changes to the psychomotor test in 2017.

The written test is now computer-adapted. Candidates can apply online and, once approved, schedule through Pearson VUE. The paramedic certification page of the NREMT website includes a link to the application process (https://www.nremt.org/nremt/about/reg_para_history.asp).

Graduates who began programs after January 1, 2013 that did not hold accreditation and did not possess a Letter of Review may submit applications. If approved, they may take practical and cognitive examinations in Massachusetts. A graduate of a non-accredited program must complete the entire program, including fieldwork before attempting either examination. He or she has two years from this time of program completion to successfully complete the testing requirement. Requirements are described in the document “Exam Process for EMT-Cadets, Reinstatement Candidates, and Candidates for Paramedic Certification Ineligible for NREMT Certification” (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/oems/emt/regulations/public-health-oems-administrative-requirements.html).

A candidate seeking state certification can be allowed up to three attempts at the cognitive examination and up to three attempts at the practical examination. Both examinations must be completed within a twelve-month period.

The NREMT also places limits on the number of times that a certification candidate can test. 2017 will bring changes in re-examination policy.

The Application Process

Applicants are advised to familiarize themselves with laws and regulations. These are posted online (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/oems/emt/regulations/).

Applications for initial licensure can be submitted online or downloaded and mailed to the OEMS certification office in Boston. The licensing agency notes that online submission typically results in a significantly quicker processing time. Instructions for the e-licensing system can be found in the forms section (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/oems/emt/certification/).

All initial applicants who hold current NREMT certification can use the same application packet.

The licensing agency will need the following:

  • Copy of current NREMT certification
  • Copy of the front and back of current Basic Cardiac Life Support (BCLS) or qualifying CPR/ cardiac certification card
  • Copy of the front and back of current Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) card

Applicants are to provide verification from all states where they have held a license or certification.

Application forms are to be submitted with a $150 fee.

Applicants who answer “yes” to potentially disqualifying questions will submit Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) packets.

Healthcare Practitioners Seeking Paramedic Certification

A registered nurse, physician, or physician assistant who seeks credentialing as a paramedic will not be required to complete the entire program. He or she must, however, first be certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). The practitioner will need an 80-hour ambulance internship at the paramedic level. He or she must be current on BCLS and ACLS.

There is a separate application form for healthcare practitioners. After the healthcare provider has applied and documented all requirements, the Department can send a letter of support to the NREMT. The candidate can then contact the NREMT about certification.

Out-of-State Paramedics

An out-of-state licensee or certificate holder who does not hold NREMT certification will be expected to pursue certification first.

The licensing agency will require documentation of status of out-of-state licenses.

Recertification

The certification period is two years. Paramedics are expected to complete a 48-hour refresher course and 25 hours of additional training (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/oems/emt/initial-training/oems-training-paramedic.html).

Additional Information

The Massachusetts Office of Emergency Medical Services is a part of the Department of Health. The Office of Emergency Medical Services can be reached by telephone at 617-753-7300. OEMS has also provided an online directory that includes email contact information for certification representatives (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/oems/oems-staff-directory.html).

Rules change periodically. New rules went into effect in 2015.

Paramedics may wish to join professional associations such as the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics (http://www.iaep.org/).