Wilsonville, OR —
The Oregon Institute of Technology and Oregon Health & Science University are leading the state and nation in educating paramedics in a new, expanded role in emergency medical services: community paramedicine ― also known as mobile integrated health care. Just as community policing is targeting proactive, positive relationships with citizens to lower crime, community paramedicine is an emergency response movement to proactively address the medical needs of vulnerable populations, especially high utilizers of the 911 system and emergency departments.
Just last fall, Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech), with its program partner Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), launched a bachelor’s degree program in Emergency Medical Services Management, the only one in Oregon. The degree includes advanced clinical training in Community Care paramedicine to address the proactive approach outlined in the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim:
improve population health, reduce per capita cost, and improve patient satisfaction.
Oregon Tech/OHSU faculty member Chris Hamper is heavily involved with a select national group of EMS educators to help set goals, define the mission and develop a standardized national curriculum and certification for the community paramedic movement. He said, “The new role of the community paramedic focuses the capabilities of local 911 EMS systems on creating opportunities for individuals to improve their health through chronic disease management and education. This can include medication reconciliation, client and community resource connection, and health care system navigation. By working proactively with high-risk populations, as well as heavy users of emergency departments, we not only help individuals manage challenging chronic conditions, we also increase our capacity to respond more effectively to our communities overall.”
Community care paramedicine is a fast-evolving career path for current paramedics, nurses, and other health care providers. Oregon Tech’s community care training provides these professionals with education and experience in public health, community health, disease management, prevention and wellness, mental health, nutrition, and non-acute management of common chronic disease and illness. Students come away with a deeper understanding of the health issues facing the communities they work and live in by providing proactive identification and medical management of patients in their homes. This particularly includes a focus on high-utilizers of hospital emergency care or patients who have been hospitalized and discharged with a condition that is at high risk for re-admittance.
Commenting on Oregon Tech’s Community Care program, student Janina Kerr-Bryant said, “I am learning more in the Community Paramedicine program about the world I’ve been navigating as a paramedic for 39 years. I’m being given tools, insights and new concepts that enrich me personally and help me develop professionally. Being in this program enriches each shift that I work in my current job, and fills me with optimism about my — and my career’s — future.”
While community paramedicine is relatively new in the United States, many other industrialized nations have been practicing this approach for more than a decade.
“Community paramedicine is no longer a fad,” says Gary Wingrove, President of the Paramedic Foundation. “Five countries have been engaged in common development for ten years, and the governments of the United States, Canada and Australia have collectively invested over $50 million in trials, workforce development and implementation in the last three years alone. The US is not the world leader in paramedicine, in fact we have a long way to go to get out of last place among the industrialized nations. Bachelor’s degree programs such as the one offered through Oregon Tech/OHSU are helping to address the educational disparity."
In partnership with OHSU, Oregon Tech offers two emergency medical service degrees: a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Emergency Medical Services Management, with the option of advanced training in either Community Care or Critical Care; and a two-year Associate of Applied Science in Emergency Medical Technology - Paramedic. Oregon Tech also offers an Emergency Medical Technician certification training program.
About Oregon Tech
Founded in Klamath Falls in 1947, Oregon Institute of Technology, also known as Oregon Tech, is the only public 4-year institute of technology in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon Tech provides degree programs in engineering and health technologies, information technology, management, communication, and applied sciences that prepare students to be effective participants in their professional, public, and international communities through hands-on learning. Oregon Tech has a full-service, residential campus in Klamath Falls and an urban, industry-focused campus in Wilsonville. Visit www.oit.edu
to learn more about Oregon Institute of Technology.
Oregon Health & Science University is the state's only public academic health and research university. As one of Oregon's largest employers with more than 14,600 employees, OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support not found anywhere else in the state. OHSU serves patients from every corner of Oregon and is a conduit for learning for more than 4,400 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to each county in the state.