In a rare move offered by few institutions of higher learning, Ozarks Technical Community College created a nursing pathway exclusively for paramedics. Pending the completion of an eight-week introduction to nursing course, paramedics can gain admission into the college’s hybrid Licensed Practical Nurse to Registered Nurse program.
The Missouri State Board of Nursing approved the program’s expansion in the fall of 2020. OTC plans to offer its first Introduction to Nursing course to paramedics in March of 2021. Josh Freeman, the college’s director of paramedicine, says the new pathway makes a paramedic degree even more marketable to prospective students.
“At first glance, this might seem like a pathway out of paramedicine,” said Freeman. “But this collaboration only makes our program more marketable to prospective students, especially younger students who might want to start out as a paramedic and later become a nurse.”
Given the nationwide nursing shortage, OTC’s ASN Program Director Tena Wheeler says it’s important to offer paramedics an affordable pathway to advance within the healthcare field.
“This approach is one that will allow students to continue their work as paramedics while pursuing their nursing degree,” Wheeler said. “It’s a truly cost-effective way to achieve their personal and professional goals.”
While building the curriculum for its new pathway, OTC hired Teresa Terry to help. Fittingly, Terry worked for 19 years as a licensed paramedic before completing the college’s LPN and ASN programs.
“Paramedicine is acute – it’s in the heat of the moment, whereas nursing is more about stabilization, education and working toward a patient’s discharge,” Terry explained. “We took a hard look at what paramedics already know versus what they need to know when we created this eight-week introduction course.”
In addition to its new paramedic-to-RN pathway, OTC’s paramedic program offers two certificates of specialization as a critical care or community paramedic. Graduates can also seamlessly transfer to local colleges, including Drury University, where they can pursue four-year degrees in emergency management or health services. For more information about OTC’s paramedic program, including its new nursing pathway, visit otc.edu/alliedhealth.