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EMT course creates path to career certification and college credit

EMT course creates path to career certification and college credit

A school year disrupted by a global pandemic made learning challenging for many students, especially for those in Burnsville High School (BHS) Pathways courses designed to provide hands-on learning to earn college credit. 

Despite the challenges and uncertainty, Meagan Haase, a 2020 graduate and one of six students in the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course, set her sights on her goal and became the first student in last year’s program to pass the National Emergency Medical Technician exam. 

Part of the Health Science and Human Services Pathway at BHS and approved by the Minnesota Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board, the EMT program is a 9-credit college program through Inver Hills Community College that spans an entire year at the high school.

"My particular interest in the healthcare pathway is what led me to taking both the CNA [certified nursing assistant] and the EMT courses.”

- Meagan Haase

The class teaches emergency care and transportation via ambulance services. Students develop skills in the use and care of all basic emergency equipment, and includes topics such as patient assessment, trauma management and medical emergencies. The course consists of lecture, skills practice and clinical experiences at a local hospital, fire department, and/or ambulance service. 

Students who successfully complete the course are eligible to take the National Registry of EMT’s (NREMT) practical and written examinations for State and National Certification as an Emergency Medical Technician. 

“The Pathways model is one thing I feel that District 191 does extremely well,” said Meagan. “It makes the process of finding a future college or career path that much easier. It can be so hard to find classes you’re interested in taking when there are so many options. My particular interest in the healthcare pathway is what led me to taking both the CNA [certified nursing assistant] and the EMT courses.”

Burnsville High School’s partnership with the Burnsville Fire Department is instrumental in the success of this program. The department’s fire paramedics have frequently been in the classroom since its inception, providing mentorship, passion and knowledge. The students have been able to connect with them on a personal level and to the stories and experiences that bring the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) topics to life. 

“The Burnsville Fire Department is greatly appreciative of the partnership with District 191 to have the EMT program as part of their Pathways,” said City of Burnsville Fire Chief B.J. Jungman.  

“This program is rewarding for both the students, instructor and our staff," he added. "We work directly with students and jumpstart their career in the public safety and health care industries — jobs that are fulfilling, rewarding and needed in our communities. Students who complete the program will be set up for many different career opportunities by exposing them to multiple aspects of health care and public safety, as EMS is the crossroads between the two industries.”

Although the program collaborates with Burnsville Police and Fire Departments, Inver Hills Community College faculty and medics from the National Guard, BHS teacher Anne Werner-Dempsey plays a pivotal role in the delivery of the healthcare curriculum. 

“Working with Mrs. Dempsey is a rewarding experience no matter what program or class you’re taking part in,” said Meagan. ”She is incredibly authentic and clearly cares deeply about both the topics she teaches and the personal wants and needs of each student. She’s fantastic at meeting each and every student where they are and teaching in a way that everyone can understand. Her lessons often extend beyond the textbooks.” 

“Without the help of Mrs. Dempsey, I doubt I’d have passed my NREMT test the first time around,” noted Meagan.

“It has been an honor and privilege to work closely with our hard-working students as well as the community professionals that have contributed so greatly to the learning process,” said Werner-Dempsey. “I am excited to see where our students and program will go in the future. It was such a pleasure to work with Meagan and help her achieve her goals. Wherever her healthcare career takes her, Meagan will deliver high-quality care to her patients.”

The EMT course is just one example of how students can find their passion, earn college credit and become nationally certified. With 14 distinct Pathways to choose from, BHS students can explore their interests and prepare for further study, training or work opportunities within a career field. Students have the flexibility to choose courses across Pathways or to focus their learning in a particular Pathway.

Courses are organized so that students can develop and implement a four-year plan of study in areas of interest to them, while also ensuring students have mastered basic skills and literacies essential for all graduates. 

Pathways learning at the high school is designed for students, like Meagan, to blaze their own path so they are prepared for success in college, career and life.