Students and others in the Bowling Green community looking for a medical career path now have more options, thanks to the expansion of the Kentucky Emergency Medical Services Academy at WKU.
While WKU has offered training for emergency medical technicians (EMT) in the form of a basic EMT program for many years, those interested in the career can now pursue further training with the retooled EMT paramedic program.
The associate’s degree in paramedicine at WKU previously allowed for already-certified paramedics to receive credit hours according to their certification. Paramedics could then fulfill general education requirements to receive the associate degree.
“There were a lot of traditional and non-traditional students that don’t have the certification as a paramedic that wanted an avenue to become certified,” said Sharon Woodward, program director of Continuing Education.
Now students who are not certified can begin their training with the one-semester basic EMT class in addition to taking general education classes as they work to complete the 22-month long paramedic training course. Students can work in the field as they pursue the paramedicine degree and also become eligible for financial aid. Individuals only interested in receiving EMT Paramedic certification can complete both EMT courses.
“It’s very intense,” said KEMSA Director Lee Brown about the program. “When you think about it, you have to know anything about everything that anybody would call 911 for.”
Woodward said she believes the new program will open up possibilities for people in the community.
“People who are interested in an associate’s degree and would like to go into the workforce now have another option,” Woodward said. “Before you almost had to work already for an ambulance service to go through the training — now it’s open really to anyone.”
Brown stressed the importance of those interested in the career to earn the degree, as some states are beginning to require Paramedics to graduate from an accredited program. Currently, Eastern Kentucky University is the only university in the state to have an accredited paramedicine program. Brown believes WKU is on the cutting-edge of change within the field.
“We’re kind of ahead of the ball game,” Brown said. “There will be nowhere else to get it.”