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Idaho State University

First Community Paramedic Cohort Begins

First Community Paramedic Cohort Begins

The first cohort of students in the new Community Paramedic Academic Certificate program began classes Spring 2016 semester. Thirteen paramedics from around the nation make up this inaugural group. The courses are taught live, online by experienced community paramedicine faculty from Ada County Paramedics in a synchronous approach to online education including question and discussion, breakout groups, white board usage, guest speakers with additional dynamics common to a traditional classroom.

Community Paramedics is an emerging healthcare profession that allows paramedics to operate in expanded roles to provide healthcare services to underserved populations. Working in a primary care role, community paramedics can meet the needs of those living with chronic illness and as well as those hospital discharge patients by providing follow-up care and linking patients to available community services. This expanded role for paramedics, is being deployed internationally, to fill gaps in available healthcare services and to proactively care for patients who would otherwise unnecessarily use emergency rooms.

The coursework includes the role of the community paramedic within the healthcare system, identifying community resource gaps, healthcare system finances, the factors involved in a patient-centered medical home, and developing and analyzing a community needs assessment. The curriculum also focuses on the pathology of chronic conditions encountered both in primary care or hospital discharge situations.

As part of the program, students develop a needs assessment of their home community and, in the last of the three semesters, put their community paramedic skills to work in the clinical practicum which may include private practice, sub- acute specialties, mental health, home and/or public health.

The credits earned in this program constitute one of four tracks in the Bachelor of Science in Health Science EMS Concentration degree program. All classes are taught by paramedics and healthcare experts who have training and field experience in or with community paramedicine. The program begins every year in January. The classes in the spring and summer semesters are scheduled in a one evening forum each week from 6 PM to 9:30 PM (MST).