Regional partnerships are a proven approach for addressing healthcare talent needs
The need for skilled healthcare workers in the United States continues to grow, a critical issue exacerbated by the pandemic. According to the American Ambulance Association, about one-third of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) quit their jobs in 2021, and turnover continued to rise last year. The cost of getting certified can be a major hurdle, especially when new EMTs have to factor in paying for their training and finding employment. Resulting EMT shortages can have a life-threatening impact as wait times increase and the quality of patient care declines when there are not enough people to respond to an emergency.
The EMT talent deficit affects Florida, as well. For example, according to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay (Crisis Center), the need for skilled EMTs in Tampa Bay is significant and growing with an estimated 20 to 30 percent industry turnover rate. And since EMTs often continue their education and go on to work as firefighters, paramedics, and other health professionals, the shortage has ripple effects.
It is vital to the health and safety of our communities that we support and prepare people to enter these much-needed roles.
One proven way to begin addressing healthcare talent needs is by developing local and regional partnerships.
Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) has a long history of working with healthcare employers to solve their training and recruitment needs. An accredited , nonprofit educational institution, UMA helps to meet staffing needs by equipping and empowering learners to do vital work at the heart of healthcare. UMA offers degree and diploma programs and works closely with healthcare organizations to connect students directly to job opportunities. With nearly 2,000 team members, mostly in Florida, and about 1,000 students in the state preparing for healthcare jobs, UMA is dedicated to supporting learners, healthcare employers, and communities alike. This commitment applies to UMA’s additional 10,000-plus students across the nation, where the need is just as great.
UMA’s newest healthcare talent training program is designed to solve the EMT shortage in the Tampa Bay area. Developed and launched in partnership with the Crisis Center, the program offers stateapproved EMT training and certification courses taught by UMA, all while students work and gain on-the-job experience with the Crisis Center through their registered apprenticeship program. This combination of classroom and laboratory instruction coupled with on-the-job training allows students to master content, develop as professionals, and achieve the qualifications needed to work as an EMT at the Crisis Center and beyond.
Funded through the Florida Department of Education’s Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant (PCOG), as well as CareerSource Tampa Bay, CareerSource Pinellas, and the Health Career Advancement Program (HCAP), the training is at no cost to students and prepares learners to take the EMT certification exam after they graduate. While in school, the Crisis Center hires students in its medical transportation division, TransCare. The learners work as behavioral health attendants, driving vans that transport individuals experiencing a mental health crisis to local behavioral health facilities. Learners also drive ambulances alongside TransCare emergency medical technicians. Meanwhile, UMA provides classroom instruction that prepares students for the National Registry Emergency Medical Technician exam while they earn an Emergency Medical Technician diploma from UMA. Students “earn as they learn“ with the agreement that they continue to work for the Crisis Center for a designated period following training completion.
Our nation needs to draw more people into healthcare, and we have to provide them with the pathways to get there. And so, normalizing the idea of starting with these types of programs as a viable, valid, exciting way to enter a field – and drawing more young people into these opportunities so we can feed our healthcare systems – is incredibly important. It is going to take all of us working together including coordination with educational entities, government, community agencies, employers, and others, to attempt to fill the demand gap.
This EMT program is just one example of how UMA can partner with employers to solve their talent and recruitment needs. Since UMA provides diploma and degree programs in several healthcare disciplines, graduates are ready for entry-level roles in physician offices, hospitals, healthcare systems, health insurers, long-term care facilities, medical laboratories, pharmacies, and more.
You can learn more about partnering with UMA here: www.ultimatemedical.edu/ employers/
Dr. Rebecca Sarlo
Tampa Regional Chief Learning Officer, Ultimate Medical Academy