TSTC paramedic program offers credit by certification

The Emergency Medical Technician program at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen recently made changes that bring more opportunity to current and future students.

Last year, after being under Workforce Training and Continuing Education for more than a decade, TSTC’s EMS program received the accreditation it needed to offer a certificate and associate degree track.

With this move, the program is now able to accept financial aid and offer students credit by certification.

“This is a huge move for our program and for our students,” said TSTC EMS instructor Ruben Ramirez. “It helps our students save time and money, and doesn’t delay their growth in the field.”

To take advantage of the program’s credit by certification, a student must already be a certified EMT basic or advanced EMT seeking to become a paramedic, or a certified paramedic seeking an associate degree.

The students’ Texas Department of State Health Services certification and experience will be considered when determining credit.

Ramirez said unlike other colleges that require the students to retake the EMT Basic courses to be accepted into a paramedic program, TSTC will accept the department of state health certification as college credit after a student credit evaluation is complete.

“These students are working in the field already and getting plenty of experience,” said Ramirez. “We trust that they are skilled and ready for the challenges of becoming a paramedic.”

Ramirez added the student credit evaluation does come with a $75 fee, which is $25 per course that is transferred, whereas repeating the EMT Basic program can costs students between $1,000 and $3,000.

TSTC EMS student Jacob Luna is an advanced EMT. He received both his EMT certificates from another institution and, because all of his credits transferred, he is on the path to becoming a paramedic.

“I have seen the light at TSTC. Easier process, less fees and less hassle,” said Luna. “I’m finally finishing what I started and no limits or barriers. I’m grateful for the opportunity TSTC has given me.”

The 36-year-old is a full-time dad, full-time student and full-time firefighter with the City of Pharr, where he has been for nearly two decades. He expects to graduate in Spring 2020.

“Becoming a paramedic will allow me to practice a wider scope of patient care, will give me more job opportunities and will show my son that anything is possible,” said Luna.

Richard “Erick” McLaughlin was only 18-year-old when he started working as a firefighter. He spent 10 years with the San Juan Fire Department, and currently works with the Edinburg Fire Department and as a full-time EMT Basic with MedCare EMS in McAllen.

“My end goal is to become a paramedic,” said McLaughlin. “I could have chosen to go anywhere, but I chose TSTC because they accepted my certificate as credit and now I’m pursuing my associate degree.”

“I recommend this program to anyone looking to grow in this field,” McLaughlin added. “From my experience, many of my own colleagues have been encouraged to enroll at TSTC.”

The paramedic program takes one year to complete and runs January to January. Students must complete clinical and practicum rotations before graduating.

A student enrolled in the paramedic program can either obtain a certificate or associate degree.

Once a student graduates from the program and passes the  National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, he/she can work anywhere across the country with emergency medical services, schools, hospitals or as safety officers.

“This program was designed and created to mirror our program in West Texas to ensure that our students find success,” said Ramirez. “There is a demand for skilled paramedics in the industry and this will help fill that gap.”

TSTC’s Paramedic program is always accepting applications and hosts an information session every Tuesday at 2 p.m. in Building D, Room 114.

For more information, call 956-364-4741 or 956-364-4740.