Wake County Emergency Medical Services’ Internal Paramedic Program, which prepares emergency medical technicians for jobs as paramedics, has earned national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. It’s the first time an EMS system in North Carolina has received the honor.
“This has been a long-time goal and a culmination of a multi-year, multi-step process by our dedicated staff,” said Dr. Jeff Williams, deputy medical director, Wake County EMS. “It represents a significant milestone in our commitment to providing the best emergency medical services possible to our community.”
The CAAHEP accreditation places Wake County among the elite programs in the field of out-of-hospital education, most of which are colleges, community colleges and health-sciences training centers. It shows that the agency’s internal paramedic program meets or exceeds the rigorous standards set forth by CAAHEP, ensuring the highest quality education and training for Wake County EMS paramedics. It’s a unique accomplishment for a system focused on EMS response and not solely education.
The fifth cohort of Wake County EMS’s Internal Paramedic Program kicked off this year. The program boasts 34 graduates since its launch in 2019.
A Commitment to “Training our Own”
Officially known as the Wake County Institute for Out-of-Hospital Medicine, the program provides current EMTs with classroom instruction, practical lab sessions, clinical experiences and a field internship experience, so they're eligible for National Registry and North Carolina Paramedic certification exams.
During their time in the program, Wake County-employed EMTs are paid to take a paramedic course taught internally by Wake County EMS training staff. Without this option, EMTs would have to spend their own money (and time) to enroll in and attend classes at a community college to earn paramedic certification.
It’s an example of how — in addition to competitive pay, benefits and professional development opportunities — Wake County continues to take steps to recruit and retain the best and brightest emergency medical services personnel. That’s more important than ever as the industry faces a national staffing shortage, a higher demand for services and increased competition for employees.
While Wake County EMS is a large system that recruits paramedics from across the country, this program creates an important internal talent pipeline to supplement those outside hiring efforts.
“Wake County EMS has always stood out as a high-quality organization, and now it has been recognized nationally as a high-quality educational institution,” said Wake County Commissioner Matt Calabria. “We’re so proud of our team for earning this honor and continuing its commitment to providing prompt, compassionate, clinically excellent care.”
Accreditation is an ongoing process that requires constant oversight to ensure compliance with the standards. Every four years Wake County EMS is required to recertify compliance.
Learn more about career opportunities with Wake County EMS at wake.gov/EMS/Careers.