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QCC’s Paramedics Celebrate 30 Years of Saving Lives

October, 2017
  • QCC paramedic students simulate medical situations.
  • QCC paramedic students learn how to administer IV medications.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Quinsigamond Community College’s EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) Paramedic Certificate program. QCC initially began offering its EMT Paramedic Certificate program before adding its associate degree in Paramedic Technology in the late 1990s. Since 1989, the college has graduated a total over 200 students in these programs.

This spring the college will be offering courses for the EMT Paramedic Certificate program, as well as Paramedic Technology degree. According to QCC’s Program Coordinator of the Emergency Medical Services Program, Cheryl Finn, this couldn’t come at a better time.

“We’re in a booming job market. The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that we’re looking at 24 percent job growth,” Ms. Finn said.

Historically the QCC paramedic program has been a strong one, with programs often filling up in the fall, when these programs are traditionally offered. Due to recent demand, these programs will again be offered during the spring 2018 semester.

While QCC offers both EMT and paramedics programs, the bulk of students are in the paramedics programs. For many people unfamiliar with the medical world, the term EMT and paramedic are NOT interchangeable. In fact, every paramedic must first be an EMT. QCC’s paramedic programs require that students have worked a year as an EMT before entering into either of the college’s paramedic programs.

The key differences between a Paramedic and an EMT are based on the amount of education and training. Paramedics take a more rigorous course load, and are licensed healthcare professionals who provide the most extensive pre-hospital advanced life support. Paramedic’s skills are much more advanced. Paramedics can do everything from starting IVs and administering medication, to performing advanced airway techniques and restoring and stabilizing heart rhythm on pulseless, non-breathing patients, using defibrillator, cardioversion, or external pacemaker.

“Paramedics bring the emergency room to the person,” Ms. Finn said.

Beyond the desire to help others, one of the big incentives for EMTs to move on and become paramedics is an increase in pay.  In September, 2017, the medical paramedic salary in Worcester was $43,120, not including bonus, benefit information and other factors that impact base pay, according to Salary.com. Today there are 248,000 EMT and paramedics jobs nationwide, with an additional 37,400 projected by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics .

QCC’s EMT-Paramedic certificate program takes between 120-126 hours to complete and is extended into a third semester. The program is split between classroom time, lab time, and simulated training before students embark on clinical and field time. Students who are going for their Paramedic Technology associate degree, take and follow all the same core courses as students in the paramedic certificate program, in addition to general education courses that round out their degree.

“Additionally, all paramedic students need to have field training in all medical areas,’’ Ms. Finn said. “Clinical time is 13 weeks, but can go a bit longer because all areas of medical care need to be covered.”

Medical areas students have clinical in include:

  • Emergency Room
  • Pediatric Emergency Room
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
  • Cardiac Care Unit (CCU)
  • Operating Room
  • Obstetrics
  • Psychiatry

“When they finish they go to field time and work with a team of two paramedics,” Ms. Finn continued. “This takes approximately seven weeks and they must be the team leader on 10 calls.”

At the completion of all coursework, clinical and practical field experience, a paramedic student is adequately prepared to sit for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians Psychomotor and Computerized Examinations.

“We’ve had a 100 percent pass rate on our National Psychomotor and computerized exams for our last two Paramedic cohorts,” Ms. Flynn said, adding, “I’ve seen many of our former students working on area ambulances, and a lot of our alumni have also come back to work with us over the years as lab assistants and instructors. It’s great.”