Coming to the Aid of Emergency Services Personnel: University of Phoenix Unveils an Industry - Aligned Health Administration Concentration for Emergency Services Employees, Including Paramedics, EMTs, and First Responders

Article excerpt

Being an emergency medical. technician (EMT) is a difficult and stressful occupation. The constant exposure to life-and-death situations can lead to professional burnout, and results in an average EMT career ranging from seven to 10 years.

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This situation is exacerbated by a general lack of professional development programs aimed at preparing prehospital emergency medical professionals who want to advance their careers beyond the front lines and prepare for future leadership roles in their organizations.

Emergency Medical Services Corporation (EMSC), a U.S. provider of emergency medical services, was all-too familiar with the situation and wanted to do something about it. "We recognized that there was a lack of professional development aimed at preparing EMTs and first responders for future leadership roles," says Kimberly Norman, senior vice president of human resources for EMSC.

Industry-academic collaboration

EMSC and University of Phoenix were already education partners, so it seemed a natural extension of the relationship for EMSC to provide its expertise to help develop content for an emergency services management concentration in the university's bachelor of science in health administration degree program.

Specialists from EMSC's learning organization provided a rich framework for developing curriculum by suggesting topics and specific content, and helped to optimize the sequence in which courses were presented to give students a solid foundation in current emergency management issues.

For example, for a course on political and policy issues for emergency management, EMSC shared that it was important for students to understand the political policy process, who the stakeholders and advocates may be, and how contractual and regulatory decisions at federal, state, and local levels affect EMS preparedness and day-to-day operations. When senior executives say, "this is what I need my managers to know," and the university can build curriculum around it, it builds confidence that you're helping to prepare more effective managers.

"In the development of the curriculum, we put together a fairly comprehensive crossfunctional team of leaders from within our organization and University of Phoenix educators," says Tom Wagner, regional CEO of American Medical Response, EMSC's healthcare transportation services segment. "What we did was really dissect what encompasses the different pieces of EMS management,"

Launched in 2010, the enhanced concentration was designed to prepare EMTs, first responders, firefighters, and other emergency management personnel for future leadership roles, while expanding their knowledge and skills related to emergency management. The program focuses on principles of emergency management, managing emergency response operations, and planning and preparedness of emergency situations.

According to Norman, the program supports EMSC's commitment to make continuing education programs and ongoing professional development available to its team of 25,000 medical professionals and support staff. "The University of Phoenix educational partnership with EMSC, I believe, is the first of its kind in the industry and is really a selling point for us as we recruit talent to join our organization," she says.

Virtual organizations bring theory to life

Of course, a textbook can only give you so much knowledge. The rest comes from putting what you learn into practice. Working learners at University of Phoenix gain practical insights via virtual organizations, a learning platform developed to provide real-world experience in the classroom.

Taylor Ambulance Company, a virtual organization the university developed in conjunction with EMSC, provides students in the emergency services management concentration access to a simulated ambulance service company. …

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