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Healthcare students get closer look into life as EMT

Two EMTs from Newton Medical Center visited with about 200 students at the Newton College & Career Academy last week to give them a closer look into their profession. Pictured is EMT Travis Moore, left, and paramedic Tom Ihde demonstrating how student Shaquna Douglas would be loaded onto a stretcher. Fellow junior Anthony Bradley gets the hands-on experience through special presentations like this in the healthcare science program. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

Two EMTs from Newton Medical Center visited with about 200 students at the Newton College & Career Academy last week to give them a closer look into their profession. Pictured is EMT Travis Moore, left, and paramedic Tom Ihde demonstrating how student Shaquna Douglas would be loaded onto a stretcher. Fellow junior Anthony Bradley gets the hands-on experience through special presentations like this in the healthcare science program. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

COVINGTON -- Nearly 200 students at the Newton College & Career Academy recently learned what it would be like to work as an EMT.

Two Newton Medical Center EMTs visited the students in the health care science program last week to give them a glimpse into their lives.

"We're always having to recertify and take extra classes, so that way we're fresh because if you don't use what you learn, you lose it," said EMT Travis Moore to one of the classes.

He encouraged students to get as much education as they could if they were interested in going into the health care field.

Moore said that most people in the field start off at the EMT level and eventually become a paramedic, and that there are courses to become a nurse or a physician's assistant. He said students should at least plan to get a two-year degree, which is required, but some employers are requiring four-year degrees now for some positions, especially managerial ones.

Paramedic Tom Ihde added that EMT classes usually take about a year to receive certification, and to become a paramedic, you have to take another year of courses now. Paramedics are allowed to give more medications.

"I like to see the action in the hospital, and I don't want to have a boring job," said junior Shaquna Douglas, who wants to be a surgical nurse. "I want to help (in surgery)."

They said that their services depend on the community -- a busy county like DeKalb County receives more calls that Newton County, generally. Most jobs start off with a salary of about $30,000 per year, and most places require 24-hour shifts, even though some are switching to 12-hour shifts now across the country.

Ihde said that the longer shifts can be dangerous to the workers, who are going on little to no sleep.

They also told students that CPR is an important certification to get and renew.

"There are studies now that CPR is the key to everything," Ihde said. "It's saving people."

Nurse Theresa Kuhn works with about 130 students in her introductory and therapeutic health care classes; about 60 other students are in the advanced class with the dual enrollment program through Georgia Piedmont Technical College. They are all part of the health care science program at NCCA.

In the program, students learn about the history of health care, medical terminology and abbreviations, health and wellness, preventative care, CPR and ethics and legal issues, among other topics.

Junior Anthony Bradley said the class is helping him prepare to be in the medical field -- he's planning to become an EMT and eventually a registered nurse.

"I think it's real beneficial because it's teaching me the basics to what I want to be," he said. "It's based on college."

Eventually the program will expand into more offerings and pathways as more students attend the academy.

"Because a great many of the in-demand careers in the future will center around health care professions, this program offers students a head-start on developing their career interests," Kuhn said.

She said that students are challenged and exposed to math, science, reading, writing, communication and problem-solving and technical skills.

"They can take these learned skills and practice them in real life, like health care lab settings at NCCA," she said. "This relevant on-the-job practice of basic skills and technical skills makes them work ready and/or well prepared for post-secondary education."

Kuhn said that next semester, the program is planning to add a diagnostic services pathway for those students who are interested in learning more about careers as lab and medical technicians, and next year, she hopes they will be able to offer a pathway on physical medicine for pre-med and veterinary students.