Paramedical Examiner Career Guide

What is a Paramedical Examiner?

A paramedical examiner is a person who is trained to conduct screenings for health assessments on those people who are applying for life, health or disability insurance. Paramedical examiners are often independent contractors meaning that there can be a lot of flexibility within this job.

What Does a Paramedical Examiner Do?

As a paramedical examiner you will take down on record the patient’s vital statistics, their blood pressure, height, weight and so on. You will be expected to take blood, saliva and urine samples, as well as electrocardiograms.

You will record their date of birth, age and sex, and have them complete a medical history, to determine what kinds of disease, illness, surgeries and so on they have dealt with in the past.

A sphygmomanometer is the instrument used to measure a person’s blood pressure. You place a cuff around the patient’s upper arm and then inflate the cuff. The bell of the stethoscope, which forms part of the sphygmomanometer, is placed over the brachial artery just under the edge of the cuff. Listening with the stethoscope you will hear a knocking sound known as the Korotkoff. This indicates the systolic blood pressure. At the point where the sound disappears you record what is known as the diastolic pressure.

In order to draw blood, most commonly using a hypodermic needle with a syringe, you will need to have studied phlebotomy. There are two other types of blood sampling systems: these are vacuum extraction systems which mean that you avoid direct contact with the blood. Therefore, they are safer systems. You will have to measure the amount of blood you withdraw and may need to take several phials of blood per patient. The vacuum extraction systems make this easier to accomplish.

For a urine sample, you will instruct the patient to drink a glass or more of water prior to collection of the sample in a container.

Where Does a Paramedical Examiner Work?

A paramedical examiner you may work in a staffing agency or an insurance evaluation company. Alternatively, you may be required to go into patients’ homes to conduct the assessments. In this case you may be required to do a lot of driving, and you would be referred to as a mobile paramedical examiner. You would need your own, reliable car, proof of vehicle insurance and a driver’s license. Very often you would be an independent contractor. Your car would be your office, essentially, as you would be on the road pretty well all the time between appointments. You would also need an office space in your own home as well if you were working as an independent contractor.

Why Do We Need Paramedical Examiners?

We need paramedical examiners so that life insurance companies can adequately assess the health of customers who wish to purchase life insurance. The paramedical examiner collects all the necessary information and samples for analysis. Without this information, the insurance companies would be unable to verify the health status of the person seeking life insurance products; the companies need to be able to assess the level of risk the applicant is at, based upon their current state of health and upon their medical history, in order to provide them with the appropriate level of insurance coverage.

The paramedical examiner acts in part as a kind of courier: the examiner collects the information and samples from the patient and then passes this information on to the lab where it is analyzed by laboratory technicians. Paramedical examiners form an important link in the chain necessary for life insurance to be issued.

What are the Educational Requirements to Become a Paramedical Examiner?

Because paramedical examiners are responsible for overseeing medical screenings for life insurance policies, it’s important that they have the necessary educational background to complete tasks like drawing blood and evaluating people’s general health.

As a result, many paramedical examiners have, at the very least, a medical assistant certificate, which typically takes one year to complete. These certification programs do not result in a degree, but instead culminate in a certificate that demonstrates that the student has successfully completed the necessary coursework to work as a medical assistant. Common coursework for these types of certificate includes anatomy, physiology, and phlebotomy.

Many paramedical examiners actually specialize in phlebotomy, which is the study of how to draw blood (or provide fluids like saline via an IV). This type of educational background is handy, because as noted above, paramedical examiners typically have to draw blood as part of the qualification procedure people undergo to get life insurance.

To become a phlebotomist, one must complete a certificate program that usually takes less than a year. Coursework focuses on administering IVs, drawing blood, safe working procedures, how to transport blood, and how to properly interact with patients.

Some paramedical examiners also go to college and obtain a degree in a related field. For some an associate’s degree in combination with one of the certificate programs mentioned above is an ideal combination of educational experience. Associate’s degree programs last two years and generally require students to complete approximately 60 credit hours of coursework. Areas of study that best prepare students for a career as a paramedical examiner include biology, physiology, and anatomy.

Though not required, some paramedical examiners complete a bachelor’s degree program. Again, the most appropriate areas of study are those in the life sciences, like biology. The additional two years of study beyond an associate’s degree program may better prepare students for a career in this field because of the additional opportunities to learn about the human body. There are often opportunities for students to learn outside the classroom to get real-world experience in practicum or internship placements as well.

What Does it Take to Become a Paramedical Examiner?

To be a good fit for this career, you should have most of the following personality traits and characteristics:

  • Patience: One of the frustrating aspects of this career is that as an independent contractor you are often required to make phone calls to schedule appointments. It can be time-consuming, and people may be difficult to get hold of. They may not return your calls, and this can be trying.
  • Compassion: Working with people in any medical field requires you to have a compassionate disposition.
  • Understanding: Sometimes patients may feel anxious or upset and it is helpful if you can show this character trait.
  • Kindness: Kindness goes a long way towards putting a person at their ease, especially if you are taking their blood.
  • Caring: Being caring helps the person feel more comfortable and helps them to relax.
  • Attention to accuracy and detail: You need to stay organized and record the data accurately.
  • Enjoy working with people: This job is for you if you love meeting lots of different people.
  • Ability to put others at ease: If you have a calming, soothing manner you will do well in this career.
  • Affinity for scientific data: You will enjoy collecting data for later analysis. (You don’t do the analysis).
  • Independence and autonomy: You will most likely be working by yourself in this role and you will need to be someone who enjoys being responsible and taking ownership for the tasks at hand. Apart from the patients you meet, you will be working alone.
  • Ethical and respect confidentiality: This is a very important part of patient care. You will not be able to gossip about people or divulge their personal history to anyone outside the specified company parameters.

What are the Pros and Cons of Being a Paramedical Examiner?

Pros:

  • Flexible hours. One of the great benefits of this career is that many paramedical examiners work as independent contractors. This means, for the most part, you can set your own hours, and this gives you a lot of flexibility. You can work when you want, for as many hours as you want.
  • Work independently. You won’t have anyone breathing down your neck or micro managing you. You will be able to organize your work and be autonomous. If you are independent and enjoy “being your own boss”, then this role will be suitable for you.
  • Meet people. You will be working with lots of different people which can be interesting and varied.
  • Never be on call. Unlike the physicians you will be working with, you get to leave your work behind at the end of the day. You don’t have to take your work home with you.

Cons:

  • No benefits. Being an independent contractor has its drawbacks too. There will be no sick pay or holiday or any other associated benefits that come with being a full-time employee.
  • Not enough work. Sometimes you will feel frustrated when you are not getting as many hours as you would like. This is fine if, for example, you are a mom with young children and you only want a few hours here and there.
  • Low pay. Let’s be realistic here, it is not the most lucrative job in the world.

How Much Does a Paramedical Examiner Make?

The national average salary for a Paramedical Examiner is $38,381 in United States, based on a 2017 survey of 1734 participants.

What Careers are Similar to Paramedical Examiner?

Paramedic (Emergency Medical Technician): A paramedic/emergency medical technician works with the ambulance service to deliver advanced emergency medical first aid to the injured party. Duties may include administering drugs, use of triage, transporting the injured to medical facility, saving lives through competently and efficiently administered care. Median salary, as of May 2016, is $36,110. Certification takes one to two years and often leads to an associates degree. Passing the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians examination is required to become a certified paramedic.

Phlebotomist: Your role as a phlebotomist is to draw blood from a patient, label and organize the samples, and maintain high cleanliness standards. The blood is then passed to a laboratory for testing for medical reasons. You would work with patients of all ages from babies and small children up to and including the elderly. A certification in phlebotomy can be obtained in one year or less and the median salary as of May 2016 is $33,750, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Medical Assistant: As medical assistant you work under the supervision of a physician or another health care professional, within a hospital or clinical setting. You undertake a lot of administrative and secretarial duties which support the work of the physician; these include filing, typing letters, form filling, and so on. Depending on the state, you may also record patients’ vital signs, take blood pressure, draw blood and take other bodily specimens, give injections, discuss treatment procedures with patients and get patients ready for medical exams. A certificate can be obtained within one year, or an associates degree will take two years to complete. As of May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics medical assistant on average earn $32,850 yearly.

Medical Laboratory Technician:This job requires a little more training than a paramedical examiner, and the role entails not only the collection of samples but also the scientific analysis and testing of the specimens in a laboratory setting, followed by recording the resulting data. This is done to aid physicians in drawing their diagnostic conclusions. In order to obtain your certified medical laboratory technician status you are first required to complete an associates degree in medical laboratory science (one to two years). You will study phlebotomy, hematology, bacteriology and immunology. As of May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics medical laboratory technicians on average earn $41,700 yearly.

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