Technology and health care legislation change the face of COCC’s EMT program
Students in the EMT program have a large employment field after graduation. The over 20 year old EMT program makes changes to keep students educated at the current industry standard, according to Brian Bubak.
Bubak is an assistant professor of Emergency Medical Services at Central Oregon Community College. This program has been open since the 1980s, and students who complete the program earn an Associates of Arts and Science in EMS.
The program at COCC is unique to others in the state in the way material is presented to students through a combined class and lab course.
EMT programs are mandated by state and federal standards, but the way material is taught is determined by the individual program, according to Brian Bubak, assistant professor of EMS.
“Our program wasn’t designed that way by accident; there is an equal amount of time spent between lab skills and class time,” Bubak said. “Having a strong base of knowledge is critical, but those skills also have to be made relevant.”
This combination helps to produce better prepared students after they graduate from the program, according to Nick Sphatt, director of the COCC EMT program.
“Our goal for the paramedic program is to prepare students to go out into the job force after completing our program,” Sphatt said. “A lot of being successful in this field comes with experience, but students also have to have the base of knowledge. Then the experience will take them to the next level.”
It is anticipated that the field will grow between 20 and 40 percent due to the baby boomer generation, according to Sphatt.
“People aren’t going to stop getting hurt or sick,” Bubak said. “The reality is, older people get sick more often so we are seeing a bigger demand for services that may not come in the form of traditional emergency services.”
In Redmond, a community paramedic health prevention program has already been established to assist the population with general health care so they don’t have to rely on emergency services, according to Bubak.
“This field will be affected by recent health care changes because the biggest problem is lack of access to health care,” Bubak said. “Anything we can do to get health care available will help us. Then we can focus on true emergencies after we try to keep people healthy.”
Working on an ambulance is one of many options for trained EMTs, explained Bubak.
“We have paramedics working in urgent care clinics and industrial environments, natural resource companies, and all those places want to have trained medical staff,” Bubak said. “Job opportunities for this field go way beyond working on an ambulance.”
Changes to health care legislation isn’t the only factor that will change the EMT field, according to Bubak.
“Technology is changing everyday and it is always bringing changes to this field,” Bubak said. “Take the EKG machine. It started as a simple piece of equipment and has changed to give us many more diagnostic tools.”
With the many changes coming to this field, this is a good time for students to complete this program, according to Bubak.
“We are definitely taking steps to make ours one of the top programs in the state,
Bubak said. “This is a very exciting time to be involved in this field.”
The program at COCC strives to educate students in the most current standards of the industry, according to Sphatt.
“I do believe we do a very good job preparing and training our students in the highest standards and technological advances this industry offers,” Sphatt said.