By Dan Limmer

You are about to teach an AEMT or paramedic class. You have a group of wide-eyed EMTs wanting to learn more and progress to the next level (or to at least play with needles). How can you tell if your new students have the raw material it takes to succeed at an advanced level? Or perhaps you are finishing an EMT class, and you want to assess how well the students learned during your course—and how they will be able to think and function in the field.

In my online exam prep classes, I found myself asking new attendees a few questions to gauge their general preparation and what they learned in their EMT class. Students who answered these questions well seemed to do well on the NREMT. Those who didn’t know the answers didn’t do as well—and usually didn’t learn what they should have in class. Their lack of knowledge in basic pathophysiology was a common thread.

The more I read, and the more I speak to educators and students, the more I realize how much pathophysiology is one of the foundational elements of success at the EMT level—but perhaps the most challenging to teach—and especially integrate. The six questions below evaluate pathophysiology and pathophysiology-based thinking. I’ve put them in a table format and explain why I believe they are essential.

I know there are both aptitude and knowledge-based entrance exams. I’ve had mixed results with these. If you are looking for some questions for the student interview or to sound out a student you are chatting with, give these a try. I have found them to be quite insightful.

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Do you have any other questions or measures you use to determine student preparedness for your classes? What do you consider the most essential components of a prepared EMT?

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