CONCORD, N.C. – The future of healthcare is bringing care to patients where they are most comfortable — at home. Cabarrus College is at the forefront of this evolution in healthcare with its new degree: Bachelor of Science in Community Paramedicine.

Now enrolling for this fall, this bachelor’s completion degree prepares certified paramedics for a new role — using the skills they’ve learned to save lives in emergency situations to improve lives and long-term health through consistent in-home care. Community paramedics work with a variety of patients, including those who’ve recently been discharged from the hospital and those who frequent the emergency department.

“Patients may have multiple comorbidities or have difficulty following discharge instructions or keeping up with their medications,” said Community Paramedicine program chair Chris Goenner. “The goal is to give them the tools and services they need to manage their health and stay out of the hospital. That might include educating a patient on proper wound care. It might include giving IV fluids to a heart failure patient who lives in a rural area. It might include referring a patient to community sources or behavioral health services,” Goenner said.

Certified paramedics with an associate degree in emergency medical sciences are eligible for the new program, which can be completed in five semesters and is designed for working paramedics. Classes are online and fieldwork can be completed wherever the student lives. The degree prepares students for community paramedic certification (CP-C) in a field that offers paramedics a more relaxed pace, a more predictable schedule and opportunities for advancement in an emerging field.

“Paramedics who are ready for a change are drawn to community paramedicine,” said Goenner. “In the world of paramedicine, we often use the term ‘load and go.’ The goal is to get the patient to the hospital ASAP and move on to the next emergent situation. With community paramedicine, it’s more of a ‘stay and play’ mentality,” he said. “We can spend more time with patients, get to know them and have a greater impact on their long-term health outcomes. Although it may seem counterintuitive, it’s also cost-effective since it keeps people out of the hospital.” 

Amanda Williams, Director of Mobile Integrated Health at Atrium Health agrees, adding, “It’s good for patients, it’s good for the healthcare system and it’s good for paramedics. This is the wave of the future and how we will care for patients moving forward.”