National Registry paramedic renewals: A look at the road less traveled…

by Tom Gottschalk, COO

For the last two National Registry paramedic renewals I have elected to take the road less traveled by taking the Computer Adaptive Test rather than submitting proof of continuing education. If you know me, that should not surprise you. I kind of dance to the beat of a different drummer some say. But I digress.

As I mentioned, I decided in January 2014 that I was going to take a test just like all of the students our team serves every day with and Honestly, I considered it the path of least resistance because I used to have to gather all the CE sheets I had acquired and saved in a million folders and stacks of paper…only to discover, that I was still missing OB or Psych credits. Anyone know what I mean? I might even blame it on my state EMS office for no good reason later acknowledging it is really my own issue just like the letter from NREMT says. So anyway…In February 2014 I scheduled my test for recertification for March 1st, leaving me plenty of room to go the CE route if something went dreadfully wrong with my test results.

I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but had to reschedule the venue at the last minute in Deerfield Beach, Florida. I could not have asked for a better experience! As I recall I felt the sign up went pretty smoothly. There were lots of disclaimers and emails, but in the end with a credit card I was locked in pretty quick. I was reminded of the rules of engagement, a requirement for two official identifications (which was well explained), and I was ready to go within minutes.

I was well rested plus the weather and drive in were perfect. Once inside, a very professional office assistant who walked me through the onsite registration and identity screening greeted me. All went great including the many palm scans and the selfie type picture of me that was captured by a round robot looking camera on a desk. Not flattering I might add! Quickly following the processing I was instructed to empty my pockets, take off my sunglasses on my scalp, and was whisked off to the cubical area for another briefing on how to behave in the testing room.

During testing I was provided with a white vinyl or laminate piece of material to write on, a black marker, and headphones just in case I needed them. After a test drive of the materials I was reminded one last time of the rules and was finally off to the races.

Here are the stats:

  • I passed!
  • I was asked about 80 items and guessed on about 12 in less than 62 minutes.
  • As a provider and teacher I was actually surprised by less than a half a dozen questions and felt pretty certain at the end. I likely either did well or messed up royally.

Overall, I rate the event as high on my satisfaction survey. The enrollment process was straightforward and the testing went fast. While I was surprised I had to guess on 12 items or so, it all turned out well and had me actually look up some questions and giggle at others.

After the exam, I discovered some very helpful documents for candidates online at If you know anyone heading down this path, send him or her there before they lock in a date. The content looked pretty interesting.

Hope your experience goes just as well if not better than my own!

Tom Gottschalk