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12 Tenn. paramedics graduate from ‘Earn While You Learn’ community paramedic program

Community paramedics also receive training in areas such as primary care, public health, disease management and mental health


Abby Williamson, community paramedic in East Tennessee, takes vital signs during a home visit as part of Covenant Health’s new initiative, Advanced Care at Home.

Photo via GMR

By Sarah Roebuck

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The first graduates of a new program are ready to take care of patients in the comfort of their own homes.

Twelve people earned community paramedic certifications from Global Medical Response’s “Earn While You Learn” Academy, which was developed to staff Covenant Health’s new Advanced Care at Home program.

EMS professionals with advanced training as community paramedics serve as the main point of contact for daily in-person visits to patients in the Advanced Care at Home program, which also incorporates additional healthcare professionals, round-the-clock monitoring from health system clinicians and scheduled telemedicine appointments with physicians.

“Covenant Health is proud to launch our Advanced Care at Home initiative in collaboration with Global Medical Response,” said Mandy Halford, MD, senior vice president and chief medical informatics officer for Covenant Health. “We’re pleased to see successful graduates of the Knoxville area’s first community paramedic program, which is one of only four programs currently available in Tennessee. These dedicated professionals are prepared to provide the best possible care for our patients.”

In order to qualify for the community paramedic training program, paramedics needed at least five years of paramedic experience, but many had more than 15 years of experience. To be certified, they complete a standardized educational program to deliver services beyond traditional emergency care and transport, including working with medical direction.

Community paramedics also receive training in areas such as primary care, public health, disease management, prevention/wellness, mental health and oral health.

“We’re incredibly proud of our first class of graduates,” said Gregory Spurlock, vice president of healthcare operations for GMR. “For our inaugural academy, we had a 100 percent pass rate on the national exam, given by the International Board of Specialty Certification. The average first-time pass rate is only 58 percent, so having a full class achieve certification is a huge accomplishment.”

GMR’s medical ground transportation company, American Medical Response, created the “Earn While You Learn” initiative to assist individuals pursuing careers as EMS professionals by offering paid on-the-job training as they acquire EMT or paramedic certification. After completing the program, participants have the chance to join the company as full-time employees.