Paramedic Program Development and History
Paramedic education began at Weber State University in the mid-1970s as the first program in Utah and one of the earliest in the nation. The paramedic program continues to provide Utah and the Intermountain West with the highest commitment to prehospital emergency care education.
WSU's paramedic program was initially JRC accredited in 1984, and in 2011 the program was site visited for its sixth CoAEMSP re-accreditation for which it received no citations and numerous superlative comments. The Department of Emergency Care & Rescue (EC&R) provides courses in EMT, Paramedic and selected continuing education courses including Tactical EMS and Specialty Care Transport.
Weber's paramedic program initially, and traditionally, provided EMS education for fire and EMS agencies along the Wasatch Front. Prior to 2002, 90 percent of all students were agency sponsored in both time and pay. Agency students generally sought a paramedic certificate. Since that time, fiscal crunches in most EMS agencies and fire departments has led to a decrease in the number of agency students being sent or sponsored for paramedic training.
By 2002, the WSU paramedic program liberally began accepting non-agency students, and by 2005, 80 percent of enrolled students were no longer agency sponsored. Many students are now pursuing an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Paramedic Studies, or applying credits towards a Bachelor's in Integrated Studies or Health Administration Science Degree.
In 2003, the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions received a $469,000 federal grant to provide rural distance education in the fields of paramedic, nursing, clinical lab science and respiratory therapy. Beginning in 2004, the EC&R department initiated a distance paramedic education program using interactive video streaming for didactic education and modification of delivery techniques in skill lab, clinical and field internship. The class meets Tuesday and Thursday evenings and has 3 one week "skills camps." A majority of the paramedics currently serving the state of Wyoming were trained in this venue.
This endeavor has produced over 100 certificate-trained paramedics, eligible to take the Utah Bureau of EMS certification and the National Registry examination. The distance education offering for rural Utah and the other states mirrors both the curriculum and rigors of the on-campus day program in every manner. The program started its sixth class in August 2010 and is extremely popular.
In 2006, the program faced a pivotal change involving its communities of interest. While Fire and EMS agencies desire WSU graduates, they no longer provide enough agency-sponsored students to maintain dual day class viability. The traditional campus day class program was converted from a June and October class start to one program start every fall semester. The popular distance education class (evenings) also starts every fall semester. Conversion to a standard semester model allowed better articulation for private students to obtain financial aid and a better mesh with standard university scheduling, instructional technology and grading systems.
Additional EMS educational offerings have been developed in 2007-2008 to include PAR 3110- Critical Care Transport, PAR 3120-Tactical EMS, PAR 4110-Topics in EMS Operations and PAR 4120-Topics in EMS Education. These will become part of a future EMS Minor, Bachelor's and or "leg" of the Bachelors of Integrated studies (BIS) degree. In 2011, several lower division "2000" courses were approved were approved as upper division "3000 - 4000" courses which now allows paramedic to be a functional leg of the BIS degree.
As a pioneering effort since 2002, Weber State has required the National Registry exam for all exiting students, This was pivotal in bringing the National Registry paramedic exam to the state of Utah. On July 1, 2008, the Utah Bureau of EMS adopted the NRP exam as the initial credentialing process for graduating paramedic students. Weber prides itself on a 96% first time pass rate leading all other programs in the state and greatly surpassing the national averages. Weber surpasses both the state and national averages in the five content areas of Airway, Cardiac, Medical, Trauma, EMS Operations.
In 2012, the EC&R program successfully graduated 8 international students from Saudi Arabia, 7 who completed the National Registry Exam on first attempt and will return to work in their county. Starting Academic Year 2013 all full time faculty possess National Registry Certification and either Bachelors or Masters Degrees. In 2014 the EC&R department received a generous grant allowing construction of an indoor "Simbulance" with high fidelity video recording.
Paramedic Program Goals as Defined by CAAHEP/CoAEMSP National Accreditation:
The WSU paramedic program will “prepare competent entry-level Paramedics in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains,” with or without exit points at the Emergency Medical Responder, Emergency Medical Technician, and Advanced Intermediate levels.
EMS Program Mission Statement
The mission of the Department of Emergency Care & Rescue is to provide competent entry-level EMS providers to serve the medical needs of the Intermountain West. The program strives to utilize the latest in technology to deliver high quality BLS and ALS programs on the main campus and in the extended campus. A continuous quality improvement process is utilized to monitor success of the graduates and guide program development.
EMS Program Vision Statement
The Emergency Care and Rescue Program prepares EMS graduates to perform as health care professionals providing prehospital emergency care under the command of a physician, to sub-acute and acutely ill or injured patients. EMT's, Advanced EMT's, and Paramedics have special, well-defined skills and knowledge in prehospital emergency care, are concerned for others, and place complete attention to all assigned tasks in order to promote the well being of others.
Paramedic Program Core Values
- The program will provide a superior educational experience for our students which will exemplify our commitment to the community.
- As advocates of our students, and our patients, we believe our students will achieve EMS excellence using the critical thinking and assessment based management process through the integration of:
- Anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology
- Thorough and appropriate patient assessment
- Determination of a field or paramedic differential diagnosis
- Implementation of a treatment plan using national and local standards protocols
- The program will always insure both instructional quality and student safety in the classroom, skill lab, clinical and field internship environments.
- The faculty desire that all students succeed to be safe and competent EMS providers.