EMS enrollment continues to rise, director says

Enrollment rates for OCCC’s Emergency Medical Sciences program are expected to surge this year, said Leaugeay Barnes, EMS program director.

Barnes said the economy and program reputation is driving the wave of enrolling students in the Basic Emergency Medical Technician program up 30 percent over the 2009-2010 academic year.

The program had 180 students combined in both fall and spring 2009-2010.

“We anticipate approximately 100 students to enroll (just) in fall 2010,” she said.

Barnes said she and fellow faculty members have had to work even harder to accommodate the increased enrollment rates in the EMS program by adding extra courses.

“Obviously, the economy has impacted enrollment across the college,” she said. “However, there are a number of other factors that attract students to the program.”

One cause for the enrollment spike is new rules by the National Registry of EMTs, which mandates that by Jan. 2013 all candidates for paramedic certification must have graduated from an accredited program to qualify for certification.

Until this year, Barnes said, OCCC has been the only nationally accredited program in Oklahoma since 1995.

Another cause of the increase is the pass rate for those who take the national exam, she said.

Barnes said OCCC’s EMS program has a 100 percent first time pass rate, compared to last year when the program saw an 88 percent pass rate and ranked number two statewide.

“Our primary focus is on increasing the success of the students in our program without lowering the standard,” Barnes said. “We really like to think outside the box and create new ways to help students succeed.”

Another cause of increased enrollment, she said, is the Peer Mentoring Program, in which paramedic students are assigned students in lower-level classes and assist them with anything college-related, such as course content and skills.

“The Peer Mentoring Program helps to build a network within the program to help support EMS students,” Barnes said.

EMS faculty and students are excited about the increase in enrollment, she said, but it does present challenges to overcome from anything such as staggering lab space to finding enough qualified experienced instructors.

Melissa Vice, Student Emergency Medical Technology Association president, said she is happy the EMS program is growing.

“Increased enrollment is a great thing,” Vice said. “The more the better.”

“I love having increased interest in EMS and competition makes us stronger.”

To contact Elizabeth Robertson, email onlineeditor@occc.edu.

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