SCC EMS Paramedic Program Eearns Accreditation
The Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Paramedic program at Somerset Community College (SCC) recently earned recognition from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) as a fully accredited program with no violations or recommendations for improvement. Such recognition, said program director Tracey Franklin, is rare and should be celebrated.
“Our program had a site visit in 2016 that lasted three days,” said Franklin. “During that time, our accreditation professional looked at every detail of our program, including our long-term plan of action and class instruction documents. She also interviewed faculty, current staff, graduates of the program and local paramedic professionals. When she left, she commended us on our program. We felt confident we would receive accreditation, but were thrilled to discover we had no violations or recommendations for change, especially considering the average program has approximately eight violations or necessary changes.”
Franklin said in 2012, the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services placed a new requirement on all EMS programs, necessitating they meet accreditation standards. The EMS program at SCC began in 2011, so at the time the college applied for review, only a handful of students had graduated from the program.
“We had to have three cohorts of students graduate from the program before a site visit could be done,” said Franklin. “This is so reviewers can get an accurate depiction of what the program is actually like, and what kind of employees we are producing, not just what we hope to accomplish.”
Program faculty had to submit an explanation of need for the program, details on the number of existing paramedics in the college’s service area and information on teaching style, how the program benefits the community and experience of faculty before the visit.
Currently, 19 students are enrolled in the SCC EMS Paramedic program. Students begin the 17-month program, which leads to a degree or certificate, in either August on the SCC Laurel Campus, or in January on the SCC Somerset Campus. SCC has one of only six similar programs in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The program’s medical director is Sandra Schuldheisz, MD, a critical care pulmonologist who practices in Somerset and is affiliated with Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital.
“We are a small program with very dedicated and experienced faculty. We have the benefit of having an exceptional medical director in Dr. Schuldheisz, as well as outstanding field and clinical preceptors and advising committee members,” said Franklin. “We have 100 percent employment rates and very high pass rates on national certification exams. I think the passion we have for caring for those we serve as emergency medical professionals is first and foremost in our program and that dedication shows.”
To be eligible to enroll in the SCC Paramedic program, students must already be a licensed emergency medical technician (EMT) and must have completed a college-level math course. The program can be completed in approximately two years. Classes are held in the afternoon at the Laurel Campus in London and in the morning at the SCC Somerset Campus in Somerset.