UM launches new paramedicine degree at Missoula College

Missoula College of the University of Montana has established a new degree in paramedicine, which leads to careers for emergency medical services professionals.

The Montana Board of Regents granted permission to establish the new Associate of Applied Science degree on May 23. Missoula College plans to start training the first cohort of students to become emergency medical technicians and paramedics this fall.

“This is an exciting new degree option that’s coming,” said Dan Funsch, chair of the college’s Health Professions Department. “The program offers great opportunities for students, while contributing to community health and addressing a workforce shortage.”

The program requires four semesters and 73 credits to complete. The state Department of Labor classifies paramedicine as a high-demand occupation.

The college will partner with Missoula Emergency Services Inc. to offer the new degree. MESI has offered EMT and paramedicine training programs for three decades.

“Many of our graduates have gone on to become emergency room doctors, nurses, PAs and nurse practitioners,” said Kathy Andress, MESI education director.

Don Whalen, manager of MESI, said that although their program provides top-notch training and state paramedic certification, until this collaboration, the organization could not offer graduates a degree. Under a memorandum of understanding, Missoula College and MESI will work together to provide classroom instruction, while MESI will host clinical rotations.

MESI provides emergency services for much of western Montana, including Missoula, Ravalli, Granite, Powell, Lake and Mineral counties. Applications will be accepted by both Missoula College and MESI.

“MESI approached us in 2018 with hopes of establishing a partnership that would facilitate their program accreditation,” Funsch said. “The program will address a need for emergency medical personnel. It also will provide students a stepping stone to other health care careers such as physician’s assistant, physical therapy or nursing. It’s a nice new addition to our degree portfolio at Missoula College.”