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Pennsylvania Community College Drops Paramedic Program

The board of trustees for the Butler Area Community College voted Wednesday to discontinue the school's paramedic degree and certificate credit program due to low enrollment.

Although the college has offered a noncredit training program, it has been struggling to become accredited in a degree program for the past three years, according to BC3 Vice President for Academic Affairs Frances Spigelmyer.

Although paramedics can work in Pennsylvania with a training certificate and without a college degree, Spigelmyer said, the benefit of going through that extra step in education could lead to higher pay. BC3 began the degree program following a national trend for paramedics to pursue higher education, Spigelmyer said.

"They would have more credentials, they could go out and perform services and have different skills and be able to handle more out in the field," Spigelmyer said after the board meeting.

Students in the degree program also were also eligible for scholarships.

The program started with a small group of students, some of who dropped out due to what Spigelmyer called a rigorous curriculum. Others left to work through EMT programs. "At this point it's very difficult to keep up with a program when we don't have enough students interested in it," Spigelmyer told board members.

BC3 President Nicholas Neupauer said he was in support of the board's unanimous decision.

"I think that it is a very good example about how we at the college evaluate our programs," Neupauer said.

Spigelmyer said she believes that the program could be easily renewed later.

"People are starting to realize the need to have more skills in that area. They want to raise the bar," Spigelmyer said. "I think that once that's embraced by everybody, there will be a need to come back."

Akasha Chamberlain is a freelance writer.



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