UAMS to launch state’s first EMS bachelor’s degree program

LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced plans Wednesday to institute the state’s first bachelor’s degree program in emergency medical services this summer.

The program, just the 16th to be offered in the country, is designed to enhance the management and clinical skills of emergency services professionals, UAMS said.

The Department of Emergency Medical Sciences in the UAMS College of Health Professions recently received approval from the state Higher Education Coordinating Board to offer the program, which expects to enroll 12 licensed paramedics as the first students for the summer 2013 semester.

Daniel Bercher, who heads the department, said the program will produce graduates prepared to be EMS managers and educators with skills above the current associate’s degree level.

In addition to equipping EMS professionals with more advanced skills, the program likely will open inroads to interdisciplinary community health and wellness opportunities, Bercher said.

“We believe a new area is opening up for our discipline as a community health paramedic,” he said in a release. “This degree will equip graduates with the skills they will need to be better leaders and managers, open up new clinical possibilities to expand their job opportunities and provide them another pathway to become an EMS educator.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in the field of emergency medical services to grow faster than average for all occupations from 2010-2020. An aging population with more age-related emergencies and more demand for patient transfer services is expected to create more job opportunities in the future, UAMS said.