South Piedmont’s EMT Program Draws Pre-Med Students from Across the State

Photo of EMT students

South Piedmont offered two EMT classes this summer to meet student demand. Many of the students ultimately plan to attend medical school.

South Piedmont Community College offered two EMT classes this summer to meet demand not only of aspiring first-responders but pre-med students from universities across the state and beyond.

“We have great word of mouth,” said Sam Bishop, fire/rescue/EMS program director.

“The word is definitely out that our program is great preparation both for students planning to go into emergency medical services and those planning to continue in the medical field to become doctors or physician assistants.”

Last summer, South Piedmont offered one EMT Basic Certification class. The class consists of 240 hours of in-person and online instruction, as well as ride-along hours on ambulances. The class readies students for state and national certification.

“Last year, we had the one class, but we could have filled two, there was that much demand,” Sam Bishop said. “This year, we offered two classes, but could have filled three.”

He estimated 75 percent of the EMT students are university students who have returned to Anson and Union counties for summer break. Ultimately, those students want to become doctors or physician assistants; they complete EMT training to gain clinical experience that aligns with their future career plans.

“Becoming an EMT is something that will differentiate them when they apply for medical school,” Sam Bishop said. “Since I started at South Piedmont in 2022, we’ve had pre-med students from UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina State, the University of South Carolina, Clemson, Duke, Princeton, and a variety of smaller schools take our program.”

In addition to clinical experience, EMT students also earn college credit.

“Because we know that many of the students ultimately plan to go on to medical school, we expand on the instruction as much as possible to help them understand how what we’re doing will be relevant to them in the future,” said Chris Floto, lead EMS instructor.

“An example is patient assessments. Whether you want to be an EMT or a physician, you take the same steps when you assess a patient. We take the time to have that conversation, to explain that even when they become doctors, they’ll be using the same concepts.”

Taanvii Verma is a pre-med student at UNC Chapel Hill who came home to Waxhaw for the summer. Taking the EMT class has provided her with new perspective and motivation to become a doctor.

“Being an EMT, you go into people’s homes. It’s given me a lot of insight into how people are living. A lot of them go untreated for so long because they are afraid to reach out for help or because they don’t have insurance or they don’t have the ability to drive. I want to be part of a positive change for patients,” she said.

Verma added that training as an EMT will help her better relate to first-responders once she becomes a doctor, which will lead to better relationships and ultimately better patient care.

“I’m really glad I did EMT at South Piedmont,” she said. “The instructors shared a lot of real-world stories that helped me learn.”

South Piedmont’s Emergency Services programs include EMR, EMT, Advanced Life Support, Paramedic and specialty courses. Learn more at https://spcc.edu/areas-of-study/public-safety/emergency-services/.


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