Ohio’s Hospice Lifecare has partnered with a local college to grow its workforce through an emergency medical technician (EMT) internship program.
The hospice began offering the EMT certification program to staff in January before recently expanding it as an internship through a collaboration with The College of Wooster. Students at the college receive academic credits for completing an EMT training course through the Wayne County Fire & Rescue Association and an internship at Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare.
Hospice patients often need to be transported between different health care settings, most commonly by ambulance. But this is yet another staffing area where hospices lack the ranks needed to support patient demand.
Expanding the EMT training into an internship will hopefully close the gap between demand and supply of these services, according to Kurt Holmes, executive director at Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare.
“As we continue to serve an increasing number of patients in the surrounding communities, the need for patient transportation will increase,” Holmes said in an announcement. “In the current hiring environment, we needed to be more creative. So, we looked beyond our current staff to expand the pool of talent.”
Established in 1982, Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare is an affiliate of nonprofit providers in the Ohio’s Hospice collaborative serving 58 counties in the northeast region of the state. The statewide alliance formed in 2013 with three hospice members. It now includes 13 organizations that collaborate on back-office functions and expenses, while leveraging their collective size in negotiations with vendors, payers and referral sources.
The hospice provider purchased its first mobile care unit in 2019 through funding support, seeing a growing need for more emergency medical transportation and services.
Starting this year, Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare began offering EMT certification to staff at no cost through its tuition assistance program. Staff with at least one year of employment at the hospice could receive the training and become certified in emergency medical services.
The EMT program was aimed at creating career pathways and training opportunities for staff, according to Holmes.
“Growing and developing our own EMTs provides staff a chance to expand their skills and grow within the organization while meeting a huge patient care need,” Holmes said in a company statement.
Extending the EMT training into an internship allows Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare to meet a critical staffing need, while training a new generation of health care providers in the world of end-of-life care, Holmes added.
Most medical, nursing and social work students receive little training in hospice and palliative care during the course of their education. A 2018 study found that most would not feel prepared to provide family-centered care in the final stages of life.
The hospice and college’s partnership allows students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in emergency care and a better understanding of hospice, according to Sarah Schmidtke Sobeck, professor of chemistry and associate dean for experiential learning at The College of Wooster.
“The internship course was designed to support the academic connection, professional development, and reflective work connected to the EMT training course,” Schmidtke Sobeck said. “This opportunity has been impactful not only in the training the students are receiving, but also getting the students to know more about the greater Wayne County community.”