Called to care: EMS Academy prepares students for rewarding futures
SCRANTON, Pa. – As the men and women of our nation’s emergency medical services take time to honor the dedication of their practice during EMS Week 2016, leaders of the Lackawanna College EMS Academy reflected on the recent accreditation approval from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) that validates the College’s curriculum in line with national standards.
EMS Academy Director Brent Shaffer Parry, BS NRP EMT-P, Paramedic Program Director Cheryl MacDonald-Sweet, BS RN, and Clinical Coordinator Candace Burcheri, RN BSN CEN PHRN, have 18 combined years of dedication to the program that trains future EMS practitioners.
“This program is so vital to the community, because we supply the community with the demand of paramedics that they need,” Parry said. “Two years ago, there was a significant shortage of paramedics on the job. There just weren’t enough. We were fortunate enough to have a large graduating class and get them working to fulfill those positions and ensure that the community did have advanced care life support.”
Along with fulfilling immediate local needs, the EMS Academy has surpassed national and state benchmarks for students taking the national registry paramedic exam. In 2015, the Academy’s pass rate was 86%, according to Parry, compared to the 70% national and 68% state pass rate.
“We strongly remain committed to providing quality EMS education in northeastern Pennsylvania,” Parry said.
That commitment is further augmented by the program’s 100% job placement rate over the last four years. Ninety-five percent of those graduates stay within the region to serve their own communities.
Setting a high standard
Accreditors who validated the curriculum at the EMS Academy saw strengths throughout the program that separated it from other accredited regional programs. Those strengths included excellent administrative support of the program, knowledgeable and experienced program directors, a clinical coordinator and faculty focused on student success, and more. CAAHEP representatives were also impressed with the level of involvement that Dr. Lou Kareha, D.O., the medical director of the EMS Academy, has with student success and education.
“We strengthened our partnerships with field sites, including hospitals and providers,” MacDonald-Sweet added. Partners include Geisinger-Community Medical Center, Moses Taylor Hospital, Wayne Memorial Hospital, and Tyler Memorial Hospital. Parry said that those partnerships, along with a connection to the Lackawanna County Forensics Center, give students an additional edge in the workplace.
“Students go over for autopsies and forensic exams there, and the anatomy lesson is unbelievable,” Parry said. “It puts everything into perspective.”
A bright future
Parry said he was relieved to learn that the College’s EMS Academy was prepared to continue offering the vital education that it has for 20 years.
“I’m excited that the program will have sustainability, that we have good outcomes, and that we’re putting people in jobs. We’re here to educate and make huge contributions to the community in ensuring that they’re safe and that they’re getting competent care,” he said.
Parry, MacDonald-Sweet, and Burcheri were also excited about the doors opened by the CAAHEP’s Emergency Medical Services-Paramedic accreditation. It will allow program leaders to explore the possibility of Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) programs at Lackawanna.
The EMS Academy at Lackawanna College is an 11-month program that encompasses 1,704 hours of traditional education, clinical experience, and field internships. The program runs annually from January to November.
Applicants must be 18 years of age at the start of the program and be an EMT, with one year’s experience preferred.
The program currently costs $15,205, including books, clinical software, and credentialing fees. Financial aid is available to eligible students.
For more information, visit the EMS Academy page.