Hawkeye Community College Working to Help End Paramedic Shortage

Emergency Medical Services students practice loading a patient into an ambulance posted on Monday, November 28, 2022 in  College News

Communities across Iowa are facing a critical shortage of paramedics and emergency medical technicians. To help address the challenge, Hawkeye Community College is launching a part-time, evening hybrid paramedic program.

Hawkeye currently offers an 11-month paramedic program that meets during the day on campus four days a week. The new program will provide flexibility to working adults and those who live a distance from the Waterloo campus.

“The evening hybrid format is the same program that full-time students complete, but it is spread out over 19-20 months with the majority of the coursework online,” said John Cockrell, who oversees the Emergency Medical Services program at Hawkeye. Cockrell has 26 years of experience as a career firefighter and EMS provider, including 15 years as a critical care and flight paramedic. He says he often hears from local providers looking for both volunteer and paid-on-call paramedics.

“We see this not just in Iowa, but nationwide,” Cockrell said. “We started to get a lot of requests for an evening program from people who want to obtain paramedic certification to provide advanced life support for rural areas.”

Students in the new evening program will come to campus one evening a week for hands-on learning activities, with other coursework completed online from home. The goal, Cockrell said, is to allow people to balance jobs and family while still pursuing paramedic training.

“These people already have careers, or daytime jobs, but want to serve their communities or work part-time as paramedics to help agencies in need,” he said. “Spreading it out will allow more flexibility for those students, give them more time to complete all the program requirements, and they will still be able to work full-time jobs while in class.”

Students who complete the program are eligible to take the National Registry of EMTS (NREMT) Paramedic Certification exams, which grants state and national paramedic certification.

Cockrell encourages anyone who has ever thought about becoming a paramedic to look into the program, not only because it serves the community, but because of the personal satisfaction that comes from helping others.

“What drew me to EMS was the desire to serve my community and to help those in need,” Cockrell said. “I am a lifelong Iowan, and I feel a great sense of satisfaction knowing that I have made the difference in other people’s lives, and have helped save lives.”

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