What Should I Expect from a Paramedic Refresher Course?

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  • Written By: J.S. Metzker Erdemir
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2019
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A paramedic is the most highly-qualified type of emergency medical technician (EMT). Paramedics work with emergency response teams to provide immediate on-scene emergency care. In the US, paramedics need to renew their certifications every two or three years. Part of this renewal process is taking a refresher course and passing an exam. Outside of the US, the requirements for getting and maintaining paramedic certification can be quite different.

A paramedic refresher course is designed to keep paramedics up-to-date with new equipment, procedures, and technology. Updated research is also presented as well as any changes in operational procedures. Paramedics also review previously-learned lifesaving techniques and procedures. The refresher courses are typically about 48 hours long.

The requirements for a paramedic refresher course may vary by state, but most courses include lectures, simulations, and hands-on learning. Many paramedic refresher courses also fulfill the requirements to renew certifications in basic life support (BLS), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), and pediatric life support (PALS), which are all separate certifications from the paramedic license. A paramedic refresher course must follow the national standard curriculum and be approved by the state to be valid for license renewal.


The paramedic refresher course must include core content related to CPR and cardiac arrest, and the paramedic must demonstrate competence with the related equipment. The course must also cover a range of medical emergencies, including anaphylactic shock, overdose, and near-drowning. Another required component is trauma, including head and spinal injuries and shock. Refresher courses must also deal with pediatric CPR and other emergencies with children and infants as well as obstetric emergencies and childbirth.

Many paramedic refresher courses also have elective components, such as geriatric care and communicable diseases. Elective hours may also go into more detail about the components of the core content and cover issues like seizures, exposure, oxygen delivery systems, burns, and child abuse and neglect. The elective hours of a paramedic refresher course usually have labs where the paramedics get hands-on practice, and simulation sessions.

Other aspects of a paramedic refresher course can include operational issues, such as correct bending and lifting procedures so the paramedic can avoid injury to himself or herself. They might also cover ways of dealing with hysterical or violent patients or other people at a scene who can harm the paramedics or impede their work. Communication with patients is another issue that is commonly a part of refresher courses.


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