Continuing Education (CE)

Continuing Education (CE) is required for most levels of the medical professions. In the Emergency Medical Services profession, CE is referred to as pre-hospital or EMS CE. EMT’s, AEMT’s, Paramedic’s, and Mobile Intensive Care Nurse’s (MICN’s) all must perform EMS CE every two years for EMT or AEMT re-certification, Paramedic licensure, or MICN re-authorization.

CE performed during a current certification period will be applied to the following certification or licensure period. Each CA certified EMT or AEMT, licensed Paramedic, or authorized MICN is responsible for the retention of CE records for a period of four (4) years. OCEMS or EMSA may audit CE submitted for renewal. A person taking a CE course should receive a CE certificate at the conclusion of each course.

EMS CE may be either instructor based or non-instructor based. Prehospital personnel may fulfill up to half of their required continuing education contact hours with non-instructor based EMS CE.

All instructor based EMS CE courses are taught by approved EMS CE providers or EMT programs for single units or grouped units of CE for credit. Classroom instruction includes the 24-hour refresher courses, precepting skills or a trainee, and practicing skills in an organized setting.

Many EMTs are recertifying through CE rather than 24-hour refresher courses. Web-based CE can be completed quickly, and from different locations such as work or home. OCEMS has noted that web-based CE seems to be used particularly when CE is needed right at recertification time. You should be aware of the following to avoid problems with your certificate:

  • Web-based CE should be performed by an approved Web-based EMS CE provider. The Continuing Education Coordinating Board for Emergency Medical Services (CECBEMS) is the accrediting body of Web-based EMS CE providers. A person should check the list of providers on the CECBEMS website to ensure their EMS CE is valid.
  • Recently, there have been several instances in which EMTs appeared to complete large amounts of CE in very short time periods, calling into question whether they really did the CE in good faith, or simply took the test. OCEMS has become aware of occurrences in which EMTs completed their 24 hours of CE in one, two, or three hours. In some cases this could be fraudulent continuing education where the person did not review the educational material, and quickly took the test. In other cases, it appeared that the material was of such a nature that it could be quickly scanned and the tests completed in a much shorter period of time than the amount awarded.
  • EMTs using web-based CE are expected to spend the appropriate amount of time on each program. EMTs should not submit large amounts of CE credit (e.g. example 12 hours done in one day) for re-certification. These cases are being reviewed by OCEMS. If CE cannot be reasonably substantiated, the EMT will be required, at the very least, to re-do his/her CE. At worst, the EMT could have certification or licensure revoked.

Non-instructor based EMS CE is performed by reading an article in a magazine and submitting answers for credit. A candidate for re-certification and licensure in EMS is limited to applying no more than half of their EMS CE performed as non-instructor based. An EMT for re-certification is required to perform 24 hours of EMS CE, so only 12 hours may be non-instructor based.

EMS CE may be given for college coursework performed at accredited college institutions during semester or quarter periods. For each semester of college unit of credit earned, fifteen (15) hours of EMS CE shall be given. For each quarter unit of college credit earned, ten (10) units of EMS shall be given. OCEMS request official transcripts for verification of coursework performed. Sciences such as Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy, and Physiology are applicable toward EMS CE. Contact OCEMS if you have a question about college classes. OCEMS certification desk can be reached at 714-834-3500 x 0.

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