Paramedic Hybrid Program

'Hybrid' paramedic program

When Ryan Florence was laid off from his construction job, he decided he would go back to school to do something important – something where he could help people. He naturally thought of being a paramedic.

One big problem would be how he would support himself while going to school. Also, since he’d spent years outside working in the open air, he wasn’t sure how well he’d do just sitting there as an instructor lectured.

Thankfully, he found JCCC and its new program for paramedic training. It’s a “hybrid” class, where students are taught both online and in face-to-face meetings.

Florence doesn’t have to sit in a classroom for basic information. It’s already online, in videos he can play over and over, in study guides he can print from home, and in online discussion forums.

Since Florence works at Research Medical Center from 6:45 a.m. to 7:15 p.m., he gets up at 4 a.m. to study online.

“I like to get up early to get my day started,” he said. “By the time I get home from my shift at the hospital, I’m pretty tired.” So those early-morning study hours suit him best.

Kim Grubbs, professor of emergency medical science, said,  “Five years ago, we became acutely aware of the need for a more flexible paramedic program schedule.”

That’s because many of their paramedic students work as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) on ambulances or with a fire department. EMTs and fire fighters work a 24-hour shift with select days off each month, but they’re often different days of the week. The traditional class schedule of Monday-Wednesday-Friday or Tuesday-Thursday doesn’t work for them.

“We initially targeted this program for shift workers, but what we found was that it offered better accessibility to all students,” Grubbs said.

With the help of Tracy Newman in the Educational Technology Center, Grubbs began the arduous process of recording his lectures and creating other web-friendly resources.

Ray Wright, director of emergency medical service, said 40 percent of the curriculum is delivered online, and Grubbs added that most of that content is “lower-order thinking skills” like memorization of drug names and heart conditions. The paramedic students still come to campus one or two days a week to practice the hands-on, higher-order thinking skills of analysis, problem solving and working with patients.

The hybrid function adds another six months to the timeline – 18 months to finish instead of the original 12 – but the extra time is worth it for someone who needs to work, Florence said.

The mobile intensive care technician (paramedic) certificate consists of four courses and covers emergency procedures such as cardiac monitoring and defibrillation and the administration of medications and IV fluids.

No new budget money went to the program, Wright said. Instead, the emergency medical science department reallocated assets, and department members hope to increase enrollment after the pilot process.

The emergency medical technician program has been offered as a hybrid program since 2007, and the first responders class made its hybrid debut in 2009.

Florence, who also took the EMT hybrid program, said success depends on motivating yourself. “You look at the schedule and think, ‘Hey, I don’t have to be in class very much’ and you forget the component where you have to work outside of class time. You just get out of it what you put into it.”