Lone Star College-Montgomery student Sarah Nakunz will be one of the first graduates of the college’s new emergency medical services (EMS) professions paramedic certificate program in the summer of 2016.
In 2010, LSC-Montgomery began offering a 16-week EMT-Basic course, which includes fundamental training for employment in the EMS field, and in 2011 it began offering a 32-week EMT-Intermediate certification, which includes advanced practice in patient assessment, emergency pharmacology, and trauma management. Classes for the paramedic certificate and A.A.S degree, both of which require an EMT certification for admissions, will be offered in Spring 2016.
“We upgraded the program mainly for student success,” said Dr. Weller, a registered nurse who has more than 15 years of experience in teaching EMS skills. “Until now, our students would complete our hybrid intermediate program and then would drive to LSC-CyFair or LSC-North Harris to complete their paramedic certification. Now, they have the opportunity to finish it without a change in their routine using technology to attend classes by webinar.”
The college’s paramedic certification program is unique compared to others in the system, as it is hybrid, offering live interactive webinar-based instruction with a minimal amount of intensive lab practice on campus.
The program prepares its students with advanced life-support skills including drug administration, intravenous initiation, endotracheal intubation, defibrillation, chest decompression and more.
Sarah Nakunz, a single mother of two, is one of those students. Currently working on her advanced EMT certification, Nakunz and her fellow students will complete the paramedic certification in the summer of 2016. She is also gaining field experience employed as a lead technician in the materials management department for the Montgomery County Hospital District (MCHD), also as a part-time skills instructor for their EMT-basic class, as well as utilizing her recent CPR instructor certification for Heartsaver and Healthcare Provider CPR.
“The program is great for me,” said Nakunz. “It not only allows me to balance my work, school, and home life, but offers instructors that have field experience in EMS. This reassures me that the skills and knowledge I’m gaining from them are viable in my field.”
A paramedic can work on an ambulance (public or private) or with hospitals, fire departments, emergency rooms, critical care transport services, clinics, health and safety departments, and more. According to Weller, the average annual base salary for a paramedic in the local area is advertised at $50,000; an incredible increase from the EMT-Intermediate salary range of $38,000 and the EMT-Basic salary range of $23,000.
“This is a great career to be involved in,” said Weller. “Some students enjoy working on the ambulance, but ultimately want to provide a higher level of care for patients. They have gone on to pursue careers with Life Flight, as nurse practitioners (NP), physician assistants (PA), or even as a nurse in the emergency room (ER), intensive care unit (ICU), or labor and delivery. They all learned their foundational skills as EMTs and paramedics.”
With the long-term goal of becoming a certified paramedic and an EMS instructor, Nakunz is excited to have the opportunity to transition into a career that she has come to love.
“Every day that I go to work I will get the opportunity to help somebody,” Nakunz said. “And I will be providing patients some comfort and peace of mind while doing so, and this program is facilitating that.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the paramedic certification program, or any of the college’s EMS programs, and their particular requirements, is encouraged to attend an information session held every Monday from 4-5 p.m. through December 7. All sessions take place on campus in the Health Science Center (building B, Room 102).
For more information, contact Kelly Weller at (936) 271-6327 or Kelly.E.Weller@LoneStar.edu
LSC-Montgomery is located at 3200 College Park Drive, one-half mile west of Interstate 45, between Conroe and The Woodlands. For more information about the college, call (936) 273-7000, or visit www.LoneStar.edu/montgomery.
Lone Star College System has been opening doors to a better community for more than 40 years. Founded in 1973, LSCS remains steadfast in its commitment to student success and credential completion. Today, with almost 83,000 students in credit classes, and a total enrollment of more than 95,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area and one of the fastest-growing community college systems in the nation. Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., is the chancellor of LSC, which consists of six colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, LSC-Tomball and LSC-University Park, seven centers, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.