Supporting EMS Education and EMS Instructors in Michigan

Ways to Increase Pass Rates for EMS Initial Education Students

  • 03 Mar 2016 1:38 PM
    Message # 3859192
    Tom Knapp (Administrator)

    A couple of members have ask for a forum discussion on how pass rates can be improved for EMS initial education students taking the NREMT exam.  This forum has been set up to start this discussion.

    Last modified: 25 Mar 2017 12:02 PM | Tom Knapp (Administrator)
  • 04 Mar 2016 8:54 AM
    Reply # 3860663 on 3859192

    Our initial education program is too small to be statistically valid when looking at pass rates, and we teach at the MFR and EMT levels only.  Still, I believe the following applies at any license level, in any size program:

    We have found it necessary to be hard-nosed about who we let into the program, and who we allow to graduate.  To join one of our courses, candidates must have at least a 10th grade reading level.  To graduate, students must maintain at least an 80% grade point average.  Not only do we want students to have a high pass rate, but also we do not want substandard caregivers working on our friends and relatives; in my case, that assays out at about half the town.

    We used to just require that students be high school graduates (or the equivalent), but were discouraged to find that that in no way guaranteed they could read at a high school level.  This is not an indictment of our small town's school; most of our potential students were educated elsewhere.  Education in our state appears to have degenerated to the point where a person can graduate from high school with a fifth grade reading level.  Perhaps because our public education standards are so low, people expect the same of an EMS education program.  We cannot afford to let that happen.

    Nancy McDonald

  • 06 Mar 2016 5:57 PM
    Reply # 3864612 on 3859192

    If we want a 100% guarantee that our students will pass the NREMT written exam, then we have to do things differently. We have always used power points, slides, mnemonics, practical sessions, etc. We have literally done everything we can do to ensure our students will pass their exams on the first try. Our lectures come from material in the text, current research of the topic, and those experiences in our past that we convey to our students with the hope that they will see the picture we have drawn for them. We work harder to help our students pass our classroom tests and exams in hope that they will be prepared enough to obtain that level of license on their first try. What if through all of this, we have only failed to teach our students the lessons they must learn in order to work in the ever-changing field of EMS?


    Again, we have to teach differently by listening to our students and making them accountable for their success or failure in entering the field of EMS or a higher level of licensure. We must Flip our classrooms. By doing this we only lecture the first night; after that, our students become the instructors and they learn from each other. We, as Instructor Coordinators do just what our titles entail. We Coordinate our classrooms by making sure the information given by our students to each other is accurate. We ask questions; we push our students to perfection; we insist that they do all of the preparation for each class. They read the text; they write the quiz and test questions, they set up the scenarios, they do the work and we are guaranteed they will pass. However, we must not be afraid to allow our students to fail in our classrooms. If they are not up to working towards their license, then we must show them two choices: They must change their attitude and give 100% to their classmates learning experience or they must be shown where the door to the classroom lies. Flip your classrooms, it's a whole new experience. When your student asks a question, let them know you will gain an answer in the next class session when they present it to their classmates.

  • 07 Mar 2016 8:54 AM
    Reply # 3866093 on 3859192

    I agree wholeheartedly with you Terry.  If we can also take it further with this "FLIP", in any of the practice sessions for national registry psychomotor skills, I like to take my paramedic students through the experience of what it is like from both sides of the table or clipboard. I will make up scenarios for oral stations and have them trade up from evaluator to candidate. This way they can see what each may or may not miss as far as what critical skills need to be used. I explain what the critical differences are between static and dynamic stations and have the students run through all possible ACLS algorithms from both sides of the clipboard as well. If we can get each of our students as close as we can through these experiences and let them realize that the sequential steps are an important part of the testing process in addition to using the national sheets as an additional study guide for the CBT, we can at least give them some added information that can be of tremendous help for them.

  • 07 Mar 2016 9:44 PM
    Reply # 3867256 on 3859192

    Thanks for the support, Eric. I know that the "Flipped" classroom is the new way of approaching our students. You are right in that they must go through the steps in order to rate the importance of each one. One of my favorite EMS quotes is: "Worker Smarter, not harder." For so long we have taken on the responsibility of teaching our students every short cut, every mnemonic we believe will make their exam choices easier, but we have failed to make our students Stakeholders in their own courses. You have so many excellent ideas and I know your students do exceptionally well, Eric, but I began writing exam questions recently, under the tutelage of David Page, and now that I know what the NREMT expects, I can honestly say that we, as seasoned IC's, would have difficulty passing the NREMT exam. Maybe our students struggle because we are unsure of what the answers should be. We base them on the concept that every patient needs oxygen, but what if they don't? We know that 94% is what we strive to achieve in our patients, but what if 88% is their norm? You use ONAM (Own Em) as a mnemonic for the cardiac drugs we give. If the O2 Sat is high enough and they have no chest pain, then ASA is the drug of choice. The S/S are subtle and our students have to know which drug to choose on the test and when working with a patient, but as you say if we don't have them go through the steps and evaluate each one, then how can they know which is the important choice to make? Thanks again, Eric. I really appreciate your support.

  • 23 May 2016 2:10 PM
    Reply # 4035175 on 3859192

    Can you expound on the "flipped" concept? Are there reference materials, as instructors, on how to use this method in the classroom? I'm intrigued.... Thanks Rick

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