How to Become a Paramedic in Virginia – VA | EMT | Degree | Certification

Virginia Paramedic Degree - VA

Regardless of whether you call it a "Commonwealth" or a "State" (actually, in the U.S., both terms are synonymous), Virginia offers a historic setting with a nice blend of scenic mountains and seacoasts, rural towns and modern cities. And, with a state population that grew nearly 10% from April 2000 through July 2008 (source: U.S. Census Bureau State and County Quick Facts), opportunities abound for EMS professionals to apply their skills.

How to Become an EMT or Paramedic in Virginia

To become an EMT or paramedic in Virginia, you must be licensed. However, licensure in Virginia is a bit different from the processes used by other states and professions. The Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) licenses emergency medical service (EMS) providers (such as ambulance services and city fire departments) who, in turn, “authorize” the EMTs and Paramedics they employ.

Virginia offers five EMS certifications, reflecting increasing levels of professional competency:  First Responder, EMT-B (Basic), EMT-Enhanced, EMT-Intermediate and EMT-P (Paramedic). Specific criteria must be met before application can be made for certification at the next level. Requirements for each of these certifications are described below. More detailed information can be obtained by visiting the Virginia OEMS at

First Responder, 4-year certification
This is a 40-hour program (essentially, advanced first-aid training) in emergency care administered by personnel normally the first on the scene of a medical emergency. Typical recipients of this training include firefighters, school bus drivers and manufacturing plant workers.

EMT-B (Basic), 3-year certification
The curriculum is based upon the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) National Standard Curriculum for EMT-Basic, 1994 Edition and the 2002 Supplemental Modules for EMT-Basic:  National Standard Curriculum. To be eligible for this certification, applicants must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age (parental permission required if under age 18)
  • Be able to read and write English proficiently
  • Not have been convicted of a crime
  • Have an OEMS-approved cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification
  • Hold a Virginia EMS First Responder certification
  • Complete 111 hours of classroom and skills training
  • Perform 10 hours of clinical rotations
  • Pass written and skills examinations

EMT-Enhanced, 3-year certification
This certification is unique to Virginia, serving as a “bridge” between the Basic and Intermediate certifications, and requiring completion of the following training over and above the EMT-Basic level:

  • Classroom instruction – 80 hours
  • Clinical rotations (field and specialty) – 48 hours

Emphasized at this level, clinical rotations include (but are not limited to) operating room and recovery units, pediatrics, mental health clinics and extended care facilities.

EMT-Intermediate-99, 3-year certification
This certification fulfills all requirements of the National Standard Curriculum for EMT-Intermediate-99. Virginia also requires that all EMT-Intermediate-99 programs meet the testing guidelines of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).

In addition to meeting all criteria of previous levels, applicants must:

  • Complete 272 hours of classroom courses
  • Finish 68 hours of specialty clinical rotations
  • Complete 10 patient contact calls, with the applicant serving role as team leader on an Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance

Following related coursework and NREMT-Intermediate-99 certification, the EMT must apply for Virginia certification to practice at this level. Once credentialed, an EMT needs to maintain NREMT-Intermediate-99 certification. In addition, the Virginia state certification must be kept up-to-date to continue to practice at this level.

EMT-P (Paramedic), 3-year certification
To earn this highest EMT certification available in Virginia, the applicants must meet all criteria of the National Standard Curriculum for EMT-Paramedic, while satisfying all the requisites of the previous lower EMT levels and meeting the following requirements:

  • Complete 800 to 1200 hours of instruction, with 136 of these hours in specialty clinical rotations
  • After earning this certification, EMTs must Apply for certification by state of Virginia to begin practice at this level

The Commonwealth of Virginia may extend reciprocity for Basic Life Support (BLS) and ALS program EMS certifications. Since the conditions and regulations are complex, please obtain detailed information at the URLs shown below:

  • BLS Reciprocity …
  • ALS Reciprocity …

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