EMS1 Poll Results: How do you earn continuing education?

We asked EMS providers for their opinions about the quantity and quality of CE they are required to complete for recertification


Training, to meet state, national and local recertification requirements, can consume a substantial amount of on and off duty time and resources for EMTs and paramedics. We asked EMS providers about how they earn continuing education. When and what type of CE do you earn? Are you satisfied with the quality of CE you complete? What is your preferred education method?

What is your level of certification?

More than 90 percent of the poll respondents were either EMTs or paramedics. This is likely a reflection that the number of people holding an Advanced EMT certification is low and many medical first responders do not have specific recertification training requirements.

When do you earn your continuing education?

The NREMT credential is renewed every two years while state license renewal cycles might be every two to five years. Eighty percent of poll respondents work on CE throughout the recertification cycle. The biggest surprise was how few people wait until the final weeks or days to earn CE.

Spreading training throughout the certification cycle certainly lessens the training burden. Regular CE training, like working out, can become a sustainable habit and a sign of professional dedication.

I am satisfied with the quality of CE I complete

More than half of EMS providers either agree or strongly agree that they are satisfied with the quality of CE they complete. It would be interesting to follow up with these providers. Are they able to select their own CE topics? What types – topics and education methodology – of CE are they completing? What are the attributes or demographics of the CE instructors?

Nonetheless it is concerning that more than 20 percent either disagree or strongly disagree which indicates an opportunity for better education products from instructors and CE vendors.

I easily meet my CE requirements

EMS providers regularly complain about not being able to find courses in the categories of training they need, in locations close to them, or at a level appropriate to their skill and knowledge. Those complaints are not reflected in the answers of our convenience sample of EMS providers. Seventy percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that they easily meet their CE requirements.

What is your preferred method for earning CE?

The retention of information from a classroom or online lecture is notoriously low. Most educators know that the outcomes of lecture are sub-optimal, especially when compared to simulation or case-based group learning. Yet the audience for CE preferred lectures over other methods by a wide margin.

Even though nearly one-fifth of the poll respondents selected attending EMS conferences as their preferred method much of the CE that is earned at conferences is lecture-based instruction.

Which organization do you use for earning CE?

This question allowed respondents to select all that apply. As you can see lots of organizations play a role in delivering CE to EMS providers.

Who is the best person to decide the hours and categories of CE needed?

The medical director was selected by the most respondents with the training officer, state regulator, and the individual EMS providers a distant second.

Additional questions and comments

Continue the conversation about CE in the comments. What else do you want to know about the quantity and quality of CE requirements for EMS providers? Share how you find the best CE courses for your needs?

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