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June 20, 2015
EMS program at NM college gets national accreditation
By Joshua Kellogg
FARMINGTON, N.M. — The emergency medical services program at San Juan College recently was awarded a new accreditation to recognize the program's efforts to meet or exceed a national set of curriculum standards.
The program received a recommendation for accreditation from the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the EMS Professions following a site visit in December 2014, according to Diane Meyer, the college's EMS faculty and clinical coordinator.
The recommendation was approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs on May 15, and the students earning their paramedic certification or associate of applied science degree will now carry the accreditation.
Meyer said she felt receiving the accreditation was very satisfying after years of work.
"What it does is assure our community that we are offering a quality program that they can safely send employees to and hire from a pool of students and feel comfortable that they have the needed education," Meyer said.
The program has been working on the accreditation process since 2010, when the program was approved to operate by the New Mexico Joint Organization of Education Training. The first class of students graduated in 2012.
The EMS program previously operated under a partnership with the Central New Mexico Community College, then another partnership with Eastern New Mexico University before operating independently.
Meyer said the program was approved for accreditation without any violations or issues the school had to correct before approval.
"For a first-time program to not have violations, it's pretty much not heard of," Meyer said.
Bill Lewis, dean of the School of Trades and Technology, said the accreditation hasn't changed the programs but ensures the students are getting a quality education.
According to Lewis, only about 32 percent of EMS programs in the country have the same accreditation.
"It was a huge process, and we went through a lot of obstacles," Lewis said. "We had some of our faculty leave, and this program has been through a lot of challenges to get this accreditation. It says many things about the people we have here and how dedicated they are."
Meyer said she hopes the accreditation helps grow the still-young program.
While classes for emergency medical responder, emergency medical technician and advanced emergency medical technician are constantly full, the paramedic program has graduated 13 people in the first three classes of students.
"It's our hope we grow our program," Meyer said.