Munson, NMC Launch Paramedic Degree Program

Beginning this month, the first cohort of students will begin coursework in a paramedic associate’s degree program offered as a collaboration between Munson Medical Center and Northwestern Michigan College (NMC).

There has been a relatively longstanding partnership between the two institutions – for example, NMC has allowed Munson to facilitate its paramedic classes on campus when it needed the space and many students in the NMC nursing program complete their clinicals at Munson – this marks the first time that paramedic coursework has been offered as part of a degree-granting program.

While Munson will continue to provide the 43-credit hour paramedic training component, students in this associate’s degree program are required to complete an additional 18 credit hours of general education courses, culminating in an associate’s degree in applied science plus a paramedic’s license.

According to Daryl Case, manager of the Munson Regional Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Education and Northwest Regional Medical Control Authority, though Munson had long been interested in a partnership of this sort with NMC, it became all the more crucial when the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a ruling requiring students be enrolled in paramedics programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the EMS Professions in order to be eligible for national EMS certification.

“We could no longer provide paramedic certificate training under this rule,” Case said, which went into effect in January 2013. “When the state went in this direction, it limited the educational institutions that could offer paramedic programs, and some programs were lost. We did not want to lose students and wanted to make sure it’s still available in the Traverse City area. So we sought to build a relationship to be able to do so.”

Of note, Munson added a full-time educator to its paramedic program for the first time in 10 years

“We want to build the program to add educators and facilitate the program to remain constant,” he said.

Laura Schmidt, the director of nursing for NMC’s Allied Health Program, noted this collaborative effort is flexible to accommodate the needs of individual students.

“The classes at NMC are not prerequisites for the paramedic program,” she said. “So students who want to earn work experience in the paramedic program can begin there and take NMC classes afterward, or they can begin with the general education coursework. They could even take it simultaneously, if preferred.”

Both Case and Schmidt noted how excited their respective institutions are to be able to offer this curriculum.

“This is a great opportunity for everyone involved, especially the students,” added Schmidt. “They will be able to continue with their paramedic career and, if interested, can build off their associate’s degree in the future to go into nursing, other health programs, or business programs related to health care.”