Story last updated at 12/24/2008 - 10:52 am
Fairbanks - The University of Alaska Fairbanks Tanana Valley Campus paramedic program recently became the first and only nationally accredited paramedic program in Alaska.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, the parent organization of the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the EMS Professions, has granted TVC initial accreditation status. The commission is a nonprofit, nongovernmental agency that reviews and accredits more than 2,000 educational programs in 19 health science occupations.
According to program coordinator Chuck Kuhns, the TVC paramedic academy sought national accreditation to ensure the program is in line with national EMS education standards.
"We were aware that soon it will be required that prospective paramedics have graduated from an accredited program in order to take the national registry paramedic exam, which is required by Alaska and many other states," Kuhns said. "Some employers in the states already require paramedics to have graduated from an accredited paramedic program in order to apply for employment."
The National Registry of EMTs has indicated that, as of Dec. 31, 2012, paramedic graduates will be ineligible to take their certification exam if they do not graduate from a nationally accredited paramedic program. The new regulation does not apply to recertification or continuing education.
According to the program's medical director, Dr. William Wennen, certification has become the gold standard in virtually all forms of medicine.
"It has become the public's best assurance of appropriateness and quality of training and care, adherent to or exceeding a set of comprehensive nationally accepted standards," Wennen said. "I am very proud to be a part of the very first certified paramedic training program in the state of Alaska and the staff of the academy here that has made all of this possible. This will help ensure all of our graduates will receive first consideration for employment upon graduation. Once again, Fairbanks and UAF have excelled and have demonstrated leadership for the betterment of the people of the state of Alaska."
The accreditation process included a thorough self-study and review of the TVC paramedic program, as well as site visits by members of the commission. In general, accreditation is granted within 6-12 months of initial receipt of the self-study. The accreditation process promotes continual self-analysis and is in place to ensure the program, its graduates and the care they deliver to the public are of the highest quality.
The TVC paramedic academy meets the 1998 Department of Transportation requirements for paramedic education. The State of Alaska sets the hourly requirements. The classroom portion of the program must be at least 500 hours, while the clinical and field internships must be 232 hours and 480 hours, respectively, for a total of more than 1,200 hours of training. The third semester is spent in hospitals and EMS service locations outside of Alaska.
Following the successful completion of the required courses, TVC students are eligible to take the National Registry Examination for certification as a paramedic. Once nationally certified, students are eligible to apply for licensure as a paramedic in the State of Alaska. Provided all core requirements have been met, students are also eligible for an associate's degree in emergency services with a concentration in emergency medicine.