PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Over the past few years, Northern Maine Community College has transformed by upgrading its equipment, launching a first-of-its-kind in New England wind power technology program and beginning the renovation of two buildings on campus.
And the college shows no sign of stopping, as NMCC officials announced recently that they will offer a community paramedicine program this fall. The program will be the first of its kind in Maine, and one of only eight such programs nationwide, according to the college.
Community paramedicine is designed to educate licensed paramedics who are primarily employed in the pre-hospital emergency environment to become competent community paramedics. These paramedics will work collaboratively with public health, home care and primary care professionals in nonemergency settings, filling gaps in the health care work force.
Daryl Boucher, coordinator of NMCC’s emergency medical services program, said the program is geared toward paramedics already licensed and working in underserved areas who are looking to expand their role.
“In rural areas paramedics may be one of the only health care providers in the community,” he explained. “With this additional training, a community paramedic can check on high-risk patients with chronic diseases to make sure they are OK, as well as play an expanded role in public health by helping with activities such as immunization and blood pressure clinics.”
In concert with that, they will promote health and wellness and serve as advocates and educators.
The intent is for these paramedics to be employed by acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities, assisted living organizations, public health entities and municipalities.
Officials at NMCC characterized community paramedicine as relatively new in Maine and nationally. Paramedics from across the state will be able to take advantage of this additional training because the program will be offered primarily online. All of the career training courses will be offered exclusively online. Students may then opt to take the required general education classes at NMCC or at a college closer to home.
Dr. Dottie Martin, NMCC academic dean, said the college was excited about its latest program, saying that community paramedics were a “valuable resource” in society. She also said that they would be playing an important role in preventing unnecessary hospitalization and readmission to the hospital.
Paramedics already holding an associates degree can enroll in the advanced certificate level of the program, which consists of five career courses totaling 16 credits, all but one of which will be offered online. Paramedics who do not have an associates degree will enter the associate in science degree level of the program, taking the same five career courses, as well as an additional 44 credits in math, science and other general education courses.
The NMCC admissions office is accepting applicants into the program for the fall 2012 semester.