Pa. college to launch hybrid learning program for paramedic students

The program will include livestreamed and recorded lectures that can be viewed remotely in conjunction with hands-on field and simulation training

Rick Dandes
The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pa.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Educating people learning to serve as paramedics has been a challenge during the pandemic, where in-person learning has been restricted due to COVID concerns. And yet, the need for paramedics has never been greater.

Pennsylvania is experiencing a critical shortage of paramedics, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an even greater demand for paramedics in the future, with 6 percent job growth through 2029, while the average growth rate for all occupations during that period is 3.7 percent

The Pennsylvania College of Technology will launch a hybrid learning program for paramedic students, which will include virtual lectures in conjunction with hands-on field and simulation training.
The Pennsylvania College of Technology will launch a hybrid learning program for paramedic students, which will include virtual lectures in conjunction with hands-on field and simulation training. (Photo/Penn College)

"There is a nationwide shortage of paramedics right now," said Christopher T. Boyer, director of the paramedic program at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, in Williamsport. "The pandemic has highlighted the desperate need we have for paramedics in our communities," Boyer said. "When someone calls 911, they expect a highly skilled provider to respond to care for them or their family. The paramedic shortage has stretched our EMS resources incredibly thin in Pennsylvania in a time when we need these advanced providers readily available to respond."

This January, Penn College will launch a hybrid instruction option that combines in-person and online learning.

Designed to provide flexibility for EMTs who want to complete a paramedic education program while continuing to work, the lecture portion of the paramedic coursework will be both livestreamed and recorded for later viewing by those who use the hybrid instruction model. For students who prefer the traditional experience, lectures will continue to be held in-person.

"The hybrid option was created to better accommodate students who need to work while they are in school," said Boyer, paramedic program director. "We wanted to allow them to complete their paramedic education while still being able to fulfill their obligations at home."

"Our traditional program and our hybrid program role as one cohort," Boyer said. "Some students in the cohort will be hybrid students and some will take the lecture classes in person. We can accept up to 24 students each January. Right now we have four students registered for the hybrid option and are continuing to accept applications."

The paramedic program started 40 years ago at the Williamsport hospital, and 20 years ago moved from the hospital over to the college. It is a two-year program.

Emma Lewis, of Selinsgrove, and a 2017 graduate of Selinsgrove High School, said on Monday, that she is enrolled in the program that starts after the new year.

Lewis's long-term goals are still flexible, she said.

"But I'd love to someday be a paramedic on a life flight crew," she said. "I have a lot to learn, and I'm excited to be in the program."

Even within the hybrid learning model, Boyer noted, all paramedic students will continue to receive the same high-quality, hands-on clinical experiences, including spending more than 1,000 hours in a variety of field and clinical settings, such as the Little League World Series, home Penn State football games, when pandemic restrictions are lifted, and a rotation in a cadaver skills lab.

Students will also spend over 200 hours in the program's dedicated, well-appointed simulation labs. Learning facilities are equipped with a family of lifelike manikins, a unique crash car that can rotate to simulate accidents. Labs can be toured virtually at

Penn College offers an associate degree in paramedic science and a certificate in paramedic practice.

Graduation from either makes a student eligible to sit for the national registry examination to become a certified paramedic. Students can prepare for leadership positions by pursuing a Penn College bachelor's degree in applied health studies or through the dual-degree pathway the paramedic program has established with the college's emergency management bachelor's degree.

In another step to help EMTs who wish to become paramedics, the college introduced a Pathways Scholarship that benefits graduates of the EMT course offered by Workforce Development at Penn College. The course is offered in various locations across the region.

Paramedic students who have completed the course since its inception in 2015 and have maintained EMT certification are eligible for this $1,500 renewable scholarship.

For those enrolling just after high school, the college offers a renewable Career & Technical Education Student Scholarship of $2,000 to Pennsylvania residents who enroll full time and have completed at least one year in a Pennsylvania Department of Education-approved career and technical education program with at least a 2.0 GPA for their CTE coursework.

The next paramedic cohort begins the third week of January.

Interested EMTs who wish to begin the paramedic program in January should contact the college's paramedic office for more information at 570-329-4931 or

To learn more about Penn College's paramedic program, visit


(c)2020 The Daily Item (Sunbury, Pa.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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