Saturday, February 24, 2007

Louisville EMS & Spalding University Partner to Train Paramedics

Spalding University, Louisville Metro EMS announce new associate degree program for paramedics

Spalding University and Louisville Metro Government today announced a new degree program to train and advance the careers of paramedics. At a news conference at Spalding’s Egan Leadership Center, university and city officials said the associate degree of applied science in paramedical medicine will enhance prehospital emergency-medical services in Louisville and will help address the current national shortage of paramedics.

Louisville Metro EMS worked with Spalding’s School of Nursing to develop the curriculum, which includes courses in anatomy and physiology, ethics, communication, and liberal studies, in addition to paramedic certification.

The program is primarily geared toward individuals who hold Kentucky certification as basic-life support emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and who wish to progress to advanced-life support National Registry paramedic certification while pursuing an associate’s degree. Current paramedics with National Registry certification and a minimum of six months full-time paramedic experience over the past two years also may apply. All applicants must meet Spalding’s admission requirements.

Mayor Jerry Abramson said the Spalding degree program supports the city’s ongoing efforts to build a responsive, medically focused EMS system. "This is an outstanding partnership that will raise the level of education for paramedics in our region, elevate the care our professionals provide to citizens, and accelerate the career paths of our employees," Abramson said.

Louisville Metro EMS, through the city’s tuition-reimbursement program, will reimburse a portion of the program costs for Louisville EMTs who complete the degree program and become Louisville paramedics. The starting pay for a Louisville paramedic is $30,700.

"This program is an excellent example of a collaborative effort between Spalding University and Metro Government that we expect will serve as a model for future initiatives that support our community," said Spalding President Dr. Jo Ann Rooney. "Not only will the citizens in our community receive a direct benefit through the enhanced critical health care skills that will be available, but we are also strengthening the education of our future health care workers and leaders."

The paramedic certification portion of the program consists of 27 credit hours, with both classroom and clinical components. The general studies portion required to earn the associate degree consists of 35 credit hours available at Spalding through traditional sessions or through the adult accelerated program, which offers classes on nights and weekends.

"We want to ensure that Louisville has paramedics who can think critically," said Dr. Marilyn Musacchio, chair of Spalding’s School of Nursing. "By increasing their ability to reason through critical thinking, they are going to be more effective and will remain paramedics for a longer period of time."

Louisville EMS chief executive officer Dr. Neal Richmond approached Spalding with the idea for a degree program shortly after coming to Louisville last year from New York City to lead the creation of a merged EMS agency. The community-wide EMS was created by combining the former Jefferson County EMS with the EMS bureau of the Louisville Fire Department.

"After we merged the EMS systems, we turned our attention to training, education and a variety of skills-enhancement programs – both to improve the service we provide our patients, and to bring more depth to our already expert team of EMTs and paramedics," Richmond said. "Spalding really welcomed the opportunity to partner with us, and to expand their student offerings with a program to make a positive difference in how lives are saved in Louisville."

Richmond, an emergency-room physician and former deputy medical director of the New York City Fire Department, said the associate degree would be especially valuable to emergency medical professionals wishing to advance to supervisory or management positions.