As promised, some comments on this post, about a study showing that having a year's experience as an EMT-B before taking a medic class makes no appreciable difference.
I think a LOT depends on the situation, and there is a huge variety of experiences.
I understand what people are saying, about how there is so much more clinical and field experience required IN the medic class, that what little someone may have had in a year before then doesn't make a whole lot of difference. That is probably true for someone in a small agency, with a low call volume, who doesn't go to many of the calls that there are, who have little in-house training available and who doesn't pursue a continuing education on their own. I know people in that situation, and they really don't have enough experience for it to matter much at all.
But not everyone is in that situation.
Some are in active agencies, with great mentors.
Some spend that year not only going to calls, but availing themselves of every learning opportunity they can find.
For those people, that year of experience will make a huge difference. Not in whether they PASS a medic class or not, but in the experience they have during the class, what they get out of it, and their overall maturity and comfort level working up to a leadership role.
The problem is it is difficult to tell which of those people someone is, before observing them for a while.
I do think some things should change.
If it were up to me- and it isn't!- I wouldn't have a flat requirement of having been certified for a specific length of time. I also wouldn't depend on recommendations from that person's agency, because I know firsthand that that may not mean ANYTHING at all about the candidate.
I'd use an interview, a pre-test, and an essay.
Talk to the person, get a feel for who they are.
See how they do on a basic-level written exam.
I'd ask them to write about why they want to be a paramedic, and why they should be accepted in the program. They can list whatever experiences or education they have. They can talk about their work ethic, their commitment, their willingness to work hard.
You can fake a lot of things- but not heart.
That's what I'd be looking for.