Paramedic Certificate Program

Image of students outside the Health Sciences building.


The Department's Paramedic certificate program prepares students for careers in pre-hospital emergency medicine and enables graduates to be employed as field paramedics in a variety of settings, such as fire-rescue departments, private ambulance services and aero-medical services, to name a few.  The program can be completed in three to four semesters, depending on the student’s desired course load.  Advanced EMT is pre-requisite to the program.  Other information pertinent to this program is described below.

▼   Accreditation

The University of South Alabama’s Emergency Medical Services Paramedic program is accredited by the Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs ( upon the recommendation of the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP).

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

To contact CoAEMSP:

The Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) and the Alabama Department of Public Health Office of EMS have recognized and approved the University of South Alabama paramedic program. The Program is in good standing and in full compliance with all accreditation and authorizing agencies.  The University of South Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC).

The following chart reflects the Department of EMS Education’s three-year student success averages that were reported to our accrediting body, CoAEMSP.


Student Outcomes for the Department of EMS Education
University of South Alabama

Year National Registry
Written Exam Success Average
National Registry
Practical Exam Success Average
Positive Placement
2022 92.3% 100% 81.3% 92.3%
2021 100% 100% 73.3% 100%
2020 82.4% 94% 70.8% 82.4%
3 Year Average 91.6% 98% 74.1% 91.6%
▼   Mandatory Advising

All students admitted into the Department’s Paramedic Certificate Program must be advised by the EMS Student Advisor prior to registration. You may contact the Department via phone to set up an appointment for advising and to receive an EMS Student Packet if it has not already been completed and submitted.

▼   Admission

Criteria for general admission of paramedic students to the University are the same as those for all students.  Please consult with the University’s Admission’s office for more information about admission policies and procedures.

▼   Curriculum

The basis for the curriculum is the current Department of Transportation (DOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2021 National Emergency Medical Services Education Standards.

▼   Pre-requisites

Students must have a current National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certification, State of Alabama EMT license, and a course completion certificate from a state approved Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) course. If the student has an NREMT AEMT certification, an Alabama AEMT license is required.

EMS-200 Human System and Pathophysiology (3 hrs) or BMD 252 or equivalent
EMS-210 Medical Terminology (3 hrs)

▼   Hobet V Requirements


▼   Paramedic Certificate Program

Program of Study – 3 semesters

1st Semester (P-1)
Course Credits
EMS 212 Paramedic Foundations 3
EMS 214 Introduction to EMS Cardiology 3
EMS 216 Patient Assessment/Management and EMS Operations 3
EMS 217 Paramedic Clinical Internship I 3
Total 12


2nd Semester (P-2)
Course Credits
EMS 240 Special Populations 3
EMS 242 Paramedic Emergency Care I 3
EMS 244 Paramedic Emergency Care II 3
EMS 245 Paramedic Skills Labs 1
EMS 247 Paramedic Clinical Internship II 2
Total 12


3rd Semester (P-3)
Course Credits
EMS 295 Paramedic Field Internship 4
EMS 297 Paramedic Comp. Review/Exams 3
Total 7


▼   Departmental Policies
Withdrawal Policy

A student may withdraw from the program at any time of their choosing. If a student decides to reenter the program at a later date, the student must follow the Advanced Placement Policy. Students should refer to the University Student Handbook, The Lowdown, for additional withdrawal procedures. The University of South Alabama academic calendar publishes drop/add dates for each semester. If the student was not in good standing (passing all coursework) on withdrawal from the program, this will be deemed a first attempt. If the student was not in good standing and withdraws during their second attempt at any of the coursework, the student will not be eligible for reentry into the paramedic program.

Refund Policy

The University of South Alabama publishes refund dates within the university academic calendar for each semester. Students should refer to the University Student Handbook, The Lowdown, for additional procedures to obtain a refund as long as it is prior to published timeline.

Advanced Placement Policy

Ideally, if a previous student wants to rejoin the paramedic program after exiting a paramedic cohort, the student does so on the next available paramedic cohort. If it has been less than one (1) calendar year, the student must reenter at the beginning of the cohort semester (P1, P2, P3) in which the student previously exited the program. If it has been longer than one (1) calendar year and the student had previously progressed to P2 or P3 before the student exited the program, the student will require readmission approval from the Program Director, Medical Director, and Paramedic Faculty; as well as pass the Advanced Placement Testing, which will be conducted by the Paramedic Faculty. If the student receives approval from those previously mentioned and passes all exams, the student may reenter in the semester cohort in which they exited (P2, P3). If the student does not gain approval or is unsuccessful on the exams, the student will be required to start at the beginning of a paramedic cohort (P1). If it has been longer than two calendar years since a student has left the program for any reason, the student must restart the paramedic program at the beginning of a paramedic cohort (P1).

Advanced Placement Testing is determined based on which cohort semester the student is wanting to reenter. If the student is reentering P2, the student must pass (80% or higher) the final exams of the P1 cohort courses (EMS 212, 214, 216). The student must also successfully demonstrate oral intubation, IV/IO placement, medication administration, and medical/trauma assessment skill stations. If the student is reentering P3, the student must pass (80% or higher) the final exams of P1 (EMS 212, 214, 216) and P2 (EMS 240, 242, 244). The student must also successfully demonstrate oral/nasal intubation, IV/IO placement, medication administration, adult cardiac arrest (ACLS), and medical/trauma assessment stations.

Transfer of Credits Policy

The University of South Alabama EMS Department does not accept paramedic coursework from other institutions.

Experiential Learning Policy

Any student wanting to obtain their paramedic education from the University of South Alabama must enter at the beginning of a paramedic cohort (P1). Students that hold other medical degrees, licenses, or certifications are not exempt from this policy.

Student Grievance Policy

If a student within the Department of EMS has a general complaint or final grade grievance, the student should initially contact the course instructor. After meeting with the instructor and the student is unsatisfied with the results, the student should next request a meeting with the EMS Program Director. After meeting with the EMS Program Director and the student continues to be unsatisfied with the results, the student should request a meeting with the Department Chair. If the student continues to be unsatisfied with the results after meeting with the Department Chair, the student should contact the Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions Dean’s office for further steps. Students may also refer to the USA Student Affairs website.

Progression and Completion Policy
To progress each semester through the paramedic program of study, a minimum final grade of 80% must be achieved in each course. If a Paramedic student is unable to successfully complete all three final evaluations (cognitive, psychomotor, affective) at the end of P3, the student will not graduate with their cohort and will be encouraged to re-enroll in the associated course (EMS 295 and/or EMS 297) in the next available cohort.  Students are allowed to repeat any course only one time (see Advanced Placement Policy).  If the student is unsuccessful on the 2nd attempt of any course, the student will not be allowed to re-enroll in any future Paramedic cohort at USA. 

The State of Alabama mandates Paramedic certification by the National Registry of EMT’s to obtain a state license. Only those students who have met all academic requirements of the program will be eligible to sit for the National Registry Paramedic examination.

Biosafety Information

The University of South Alabama Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions (CAHP) is committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of its students and faculty/staff. Their goal is the adoption and promotion of safe work practices that minimize personnel occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other infectious materials. View the CAHP Biosafety webpage for more information.

▼   Attendance

Attendance is mandatory.  Those students who have conflicts regarding attendance to classes or clinical internships will be asked to transfer to programs more suited to their schedules.

▼   Expenses

Students are responsible for payment of all tuition and fees.  Tuition and fees are set by the University of South Alabama, upon approval of the Board of Trustees.  For current information on tuition and fees, please refer to the University's Student Accounting Office.

Students are responsible for all personal healthcare expenses, including those resulting from injury or illness, while engaged in learning experiences required by the department.  Students will be required to show proof of health insurance or a signed waiver while in the program.  Students must show proof of all required immunizations.

Students are responsible for all travel expenses to and from clinical and field internship sites.  Students are responsible for the purchase of uniforms and required clinical equipment and supplies for their internships.  Students must maintain current Healthcare Provider (CPR) certification and Advanced EMT licensure throughout the program of study.

First Semester (P1)

EMS 212 Foundations of Paramedicine (3 credit hours) 

EMS 214 Introduction to EMS Cardiology (3 credit hours)

EMS 216 Patient Assessment/Operations (3 credit hours)

EMS 217 Paramedic Clinical I (3 credit hours)

12 total credit hours @$389.00/credit hour = $4668.00

Fees (Academic Infrastructure, Prof. Liability Coverage, Resource Fee) = $381.00

Textbook price=$650.95 - 867.95 Textbook will be used throughout all three paramedic program semesters.  (Before purchase, please contact the EMS Advisor or the cohort instructor about book options under the required Premier Package)

First Semester total = $5699.95 - 5916.95


Second Semester (P2)

EMS 240 Special Populations (3 credit hours)  

EMS 242 Paramedic Emergency Care I (3 credit hours)  

EMS 244 Paramedic Emergency Care II (3 credit hours)  

EMS 245 Paramedic Skill Lab (1 credit hour)  

EMS 247 Paramedic Clinical II (2 credit hours)

12 total credit hours @ $389.00/credit hour = $4668.00

Fees (Academic Infrastructure, Prof. Liability Coverage, Resource Fee) = $381.00

American Heart Association ACLS Provider Manual = $65.00

American Heart Association PALS Provider Manual = $65.00

Second Semester total = $5179.00


Third Semester (P3)

EMS 295 Paramedic Clinical Internship-4 credit hours

EMS 297 Paramedic Comprehensive Review/Exams-3 credit hours

7 total credit hours @ 389.00/credit hour=$2723.00

Fees (Academic Infrastructure, Prof. Liability Coverage, Resource Fee) = $281.00

Fisdap Assessment Package: Paramedic=$120.75 (Purchased through JB Learning)

Third Semester total=$3124.75


Paramedic Grand Total=$14,003.70 – 14,220.70 

This amount does not include the cost of clinical uniform or any other fees levied by the university or college. 

Clinical uniform will depend on the clinical site being attended.  Navy blue scrubs (top and bottom, prices vary) or USA EMS Student polo ($15) with navy blue EMS pants (prices vary), black shoes/boots (prices vary), and black belt (prices vary). 

A stethoscope (prices vary) is also required for all clinicals.  Stethoscopes are not provided by the clinical site or the USA EMS Department.  

▼   Financial Aid

The department’s Paramedic certificate program is an academic credit program of the University.  Successful completion of the program provides the student with 31 semester hours of credit.  Students who take academic credit coursework at the University may be eligible for financial assistance (i.e., Pell grant, student loans, etc.).  For more information on financial aid, please contact the University's Financial Aid office.

▼   Transcript or Completion Certificate

If an EMS student requires a copy of their Completion Certificate, please call (251) 461-1832 or email Marla Snell or emsstudent. If a student requires a copy of their official transcript, please visit the Registrar's Office.

▼   Description of the Profession

The Paramedic is an allied health professional whose primary focus is to provide advanced emergency medical care for critical and emergent patients who access the emergency medical system. This individual possesses the complex knowledge and skills necessary to provide patient care and transportation. Paramedics function as part of a comprehensive EMS response, under medical oversight. Paramedics perform interventions with the basic and advanced equipment typically found on an ambulance. The Paramedic is a link from the scene into the health care system.

The Paramedic's scope of practice includes basic and advanced skills focused on the acute management and transportation of the broad range of patients who access the emergency medical system. This may occur at an emergency scene until transportation resources arrive, from an emergency scene to a healthcare facility, between healthcare facilities, or in other healthcare settings.

In some communities, Paramedics provide a large portion of the out-of-hospital care and represent the highest level of out-of-hospital care. In communities that use emergency medical dispatch systems, Paramedics may be part of a tiered response system. In all cases, Paramedics work alongside other EMS and healthcare professionals as an integral part of the emergency care team. The Paramedic's scope of practice includes invasive and pharmacological interventions to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with acute out-of-hospital medical and traumatic emergencies.

Emergency care is based on an advanced assessment and the formulation of a field impression.

The Paramedic provides care designed to minimize secondary injury and provide comfort to the patient and family while transporting the patient to an appropriate healthcare facility. The Paramedic has knowledge, skills, and abilities developed by appropriate formal education. The Paramedic has the knowledge associated with, and is expected to be competent in, all of the skills of the EMR, EMT, and AEMT. The major difference between the Paramedic and the Advanced Emergency Medical Technician is the ability to perform a broader range of advanced skills. These skills carry a greater risk for the patient if improperly or inappropriately performed, are more difficult to attain and maintain competency in, and require significant background knowledge in basic and applied sciences.

The Paramedic is the minimum licensure level for patients requiring the full range of advanced out-of-hospital care. The scope of practice is limited to advanced skills that are effective and can be performed safely in an out-of-hospital setting with medical oversight.

The Paramedic transports all emergency patients to an appropriate medical facility. The Paramedic serves as part of an EMS response system, ensuring a progressive increase in the level of assessment and care. The Paramedic may make destination decisions in collaboration with medical oversight. The principal disposition of the patient encounter will result in the direct delivery of the patient to an acute care facility.

In addition to emergency response, Paramedics often perform medical transport services of patients requiring care within their scope of practice.

▼   Paramedic Technical Standards

Paramedic Characteristics 

The Paramedic must be a confident leader who can accept the challenge and high degree of responsibility  entailed in the position. The Paramedic must have excellent judgment and be able to prioritize decisions  and act quickly in the best interest of the patient, must be self-disciplined, able to develop patient rapport,  interview hostile patients, maintain safe distance, and recognize and utilize communication unique to  diverse multicultural groups and ages within those groups. Must be able to function independently at  optimum level in a non-structured environment that is constantly changing.  

Even though the Paramedic is generally part of a two-person team generally working with a lower skill  and knowledge level Basic EMT, it is the Paramedic who is held responsible for safe and therapeutic  administration of drugs including narcotics. Therefore, the Paramedic must not only be knowledge about  medications but must be able to apply this knowledge in a practical sense. Knowledge and practical  application of medications include thoroughly knowing and understanding the general properties of all  types of drugs including analgesics, anesthetics, anti-anxiety drugs, sedatives and hypnotics, anti convulsants, central nervous stimulants, psychotherapeutics which include antidepressants, and other  anti-psychotics, anticholerginics, cholergenics, muscle relaxants, anti-dysrythmics, anti-hypertensives,  anticoagulants, diuretics, bronchodilators, opthalmics, pituitary drugs, gastro-intestinal drugs, hormones,  antibiotics, antifungals, antiinflammatories, serums, vaccines, anti-parasitics, and others.  

The Paramedic is personally responsible, legally, ethically, and morally for each drug administered, for  using correct precautions and techniques, observing and documenting the effects of the drugs  administered, keeping one’s own pharmacological knowledge base current as to changes and trends in  administration and use, keeping abreast of all contraindications to administration of specific drugs to  patients based on their constitutional make-up, and using drug reference literature.  

The responsibility of the Paramedic includes obtaining a comprehensive drug history from the patient that  includes names of drugs, strength, daily usage and dosage. The Paramedic must take into consideration  that many factors, in relation to the history given, can affect the type medication to be given. For example,  some patients may be taking several medications prescribed by several different doctors and some may  lose track of what they have or have not taken. Some may be using nonprescription/over the counter  drugs. Awareness of drug reactions and the synergistic effects of drugs combined with other medicines  and in some instances, food, is imperative. The Paramedic must also take into consideration the possible  risks of medication administered to a pregnant mother and the fetus, keeping in mind that drugs may  cross the placenta.  

The Paramedic must be cognizant of the impact of medications on pediatric patients based on size and  weight, special concerns related to newborns, geriatric patients and the physiological effects of aging such  as the way skin can tear in the geriatric population with relatively little to no pressure. There must be an  awareness of the high abuse potential of controlled substances and the potential for addiction, therefore,  the Paramedic must be thorough in report writing and able to justify why a particular narcotic was used and why a particular amount was given. The ability to measure and re-measure drip rates for controlled  substances/medications is essential. Once medication is stopped or not used, the Paramedic must send  back unused portions to proper inventory arena.

The Paramedic must be able to apply basic principles of mathematics to the calculation of problems  associated with medication dosages, perform conversion problems, differentiate temperature reading  between centigrade and Fahrenheit scales, be able to use proper advanced life support equipment and  supplies ( i.e. proper size of intravenous needles ) based on patient’s age and condition of veins, and be  able to locate sites for obtaining blood samples and perform this task, administer medication  intravenously, administer medications by gastric tube, administer oral medications, administer rectal  medications, and comply with universal pre-cautions and body substance isolation, disposing of  contaminated items and equipment properly.  

The Paramedic must be able to apply knowledge and skills to assist overdosed patients to overcome  trauma through antidotes, and have knowledge of poisons and be able to administer treatment. The  Paramedic must be knowledgeable as to the stages drugs/medications go through once they have entered  the patient’s system and be cognizant that route of administration is critical in relation to patient’s needs  and the effect that occurs.  

The Paramedic must also be capable of providing advanced life support emergency medical services to  patients including conducting of and interpreting electrocardiograms (EKGs), electrical interventions to  support the cardiac functions, performing advanced endotracheal intubations in airway management and  relief of pneumothorax and administering of appropriate intravenous fluids and drugs under direction of  off-site designated physician.  

The Paramedic is a person who must not only remain calm while working in difficult and stressful  circumstances, but must be capable of staying focused while assuming the leadership role inherent in  carrying out the functions of the position. Good judgment along with advanced knowledge and technical  skills are essential in directing other team members to assist as needed. The Paramedic must be able to  provide top quality care, concurrently handle high levels of stress, and be willing to take on the personal  responsibility required of the position. This includes not only all legal ramifications for precise  documentation, but also the responsibility for using the knowledge and skills acquired in real life threatening emergency situations.  

The Paramedic must be able to deal with adverse and often dangerous situations which include  responding to calls in districts known to have high crime and mortality rates. Self-confidence is critical, as  is a desire to work with people, solid emotional stability, a tolerance for high stress, and the ability to  meet the physical, intellectual, and cognitive requirements demanded by this position. 

Physical Demands 

Aptitudes required for work of this nature are good physical stamina, endurance, and body condition that  would not be adversely affected by frequently having to walk, stand, lift, carry, and balance at times, in  excess of 125 pounds. Motor coordination is necessary because over uneven terrain, the patient’s, the  Paramedic’s, and other workers’ well-being must not be jeopardized. 


The Paramedic provides the most extensive pre-hospital care and may work for fire departments, private  ambulance services, police departments or hospitals. Response times for nature of work are dependent  upon nature of call. For example, a Paramedic working for a private ambulance service that transports  the elderly from nursing homes to routine medical appointments and check-ups may endure somewhat  less stressful circumstances than the Paramedic who works primarily with 911 calls in districts known to  have high crime rates. Thus, the particular stresses inherent in the role of the Paramedic can vary,  depending on place and type of employment.  

However, in general, in the analyst’s opinion, the Paramedic must be flexible to meet the demands of the  ever-changing emergency scene. When emergencies exist, the situation can be complex and care of the  patient must be started immediately. In essence, the Paramedic in the EMS system uses advanced training  and equipment to extend emergency physician services to the ambulance. The Paramedic must be able  to make accurate independent judgments while following oral directives. The ability to perform duties  in a timely manner is essential, as it could mean the difference between life and death for the patient.  

Use of the telephone or radio dispatch for coordination of prompt emergency services is required, as is a  pager, depending on place of employment. Accurately discerning street names through map reading, and  correctly distinguishing house numbers or business addresses are essential to task completion in the most  expedient manner. Concisely and accurately describing orally to dispatcher and other concerned staff,  one's impression of patient's condition, is critical as the Paramedic works in emergency conditions where  there may not be time for deliberation. The Paramedic must also be able to accurately report orally and  in writing, all relevant patient data. At times, reporting may require a detailed narrative on extenuating  circumstances or conditions that go beyond what is required on a prescribed form. In some instances, the  Paramedic must enter data on computer from a laptop in ambulance. Verbal skills and reasoning skills  are used extensively. 

Source: USDOT 1998 National Standard Paramedic Curriculum


▼   Paramedic Occupational Risks

Provision of emergency medical services poses inherent occupational risks for EMS responders. Risks
include, but not limited to the following:

  1. Volence/assaults
  2. Verbal threats/aggression
  3. Motor vehicle crashes
  4. Infectious disease
  5. Lifting injuries
  6. Sprains and strains
  7. Psychological trauma
  8. Hazardous chemical exposure
  9. Environmental exposure (hyper/hypothermia)
  10. Extreme weather events (hurricane, tornado, earthquake)
  11. Animal bites, stings, and envenomation
  12. Loud noises and bright-flashing lights
▼   Contact Information

Paramedic Program Director
Joel Ellzie

EMS Program Advisor
Kristen McKenna

University of South Alabama
Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions
Department of Emergency Medical Services
600 Clinic Drive – Suite 400
Mobile, AL 36688-0002
(251) 461-1832