Online Staff Report
Rockford’s SwedishAmerican Hospital has announced their application to become nationally accredited for paramedic education was accepted by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Currently, Loyola University Medical Center and SwedishAmerican Hospital are the only accredited programs in Illinois, and SwedishAmerican is the only one that offers an accredited associate degree option to its students.
SwedishAmerican Hospital has been designated as a Resource Hospital for Emergency Medical Services by Illinois Department of Public Health since 2003. The program has been responsible for providing quality primary and continuing education to hundreds of EMTs and paramedics for the past eight years. Nineteen agencies are affiliated with the program, including both municipal and volunteer fire and ambulance services.
What this accreditation means to the students who enroll in courses — both here and through Highland Community College in Freeport — is the assurance that their education will be conducted with nationally-set standards for administration, resources, faculty and facilities.
The National Association of State EMS Officials made the decision at its annual meeting in 2010 to require that all paramedic education programs become nationally accredited by Jan. 1, 2013, for their graduates to be eligible to take the National Registry Paramedic exam.
“We believe that bringing our program in alignment with the required national standards has forced us to look at every aspect of how we teach,” said Richard Robinson, program director for SwedishAmerican’s EMS system. Robinson explains that everything from course curriculum to quality of equipment was reviewed by the accrediting agency.
EMS Medical Director Dr. John Underwood said: “We always knew that we had a great educational program and were putting quality paramedics into the area communities, but this accreditation demonstrates that we stand alongside the best programs in the country.”
SwedishAmerican’s EMS System offers both a certificate program and an associate’s degree in paramedic education.
“Our affiliation with Highland Community College to offer a degree as an option is a tremendous asset to our students and our program,” Robinson said.
The second cohort of students at Highland began their 18-month program in January.
As part of the accreditation process, an advisory council was developed. The council is composed of current and graduate students, employers, faculty, physicians, clinical staff and members of the communities where affiliated agencies are located.
Underwood said this council has provided invaluable information that guided the hospital through the accreditation process.
“This is the group that will serve as the advocate for our students as we move forward,” Robinson said.
SwedishAmerican Health System
SwedishAmerican is a not-for-profit, locally governed health care system, with headquarters in Rockford. The health system is composed of two hospitals, 30 clinics, a home health care agency, a foundation, and has an exclusive affiliation with UW Health in northern Illinois.
Posted Feb. 14, 2012