July 12, 2018

As a paramedic in his 38th year and a full-time instructor, EMS faculty member David Borrett doesn’t have a lot of free time. But Borrett doesn’t mind having a full schedule as long as he gets to teach.

“One day, my wife said to me, ‘you should teach more, because you come home happy,’” said Borrett. “That’s what turned the corner for me.”

For Borrett, it’s the students that make his job as a teacher so rewarding.

“Century College students are some of the most dynamic, fun-loving, and hard-working students,” said Borrett. “I absolutely love being with the students and watching them change and grow into advanced providers.”

For his dedication in preparing students to enter the workforce as fully-trained paramedics, Borrett was named an Outstanding Educator by the Minnesota State Board of Trustees.

A Rigorous Program

The EMS program at Century College has been around for a long time. In fact, Borrett graduated from the same program in 1980, soon after it was established. Since then, the program has grown into one of the most respected in the paramedic industry.

The program combines time in the classroom, in hospitals, and in field clinical settings. Students spend between 400-500 hours in an ambulance, observe live child births, perform tracheal intubations, and take a number of shifts in emergency departments.

Needless to say, it’s not particularly easy to cram all of this coursework into a 13-month program. When students join the paramedic program, they know they’re signing up for a rigorous curriculum.

“It’s really something when an EMT decides to become a paramedic and get engaged in our courses here,” said Borrett. “It’s a huge investment of time and effort that they put into the program.”

This investment certainly pays off for paramedic students. Century College’s EMS program is known for producing graduates that are ready to work.

“Employers from all over the country like our graduates because they’re ready to get on an ambulance and take care of patients. They don’t have to retrain them,” said Borrett. “They’re able to take any kind of patient, stabilize them, and get them to the hospital, quite often reversing any causes that may have led to death or other consequences.”

A Not-So-Traditional Approach to Teaching

On the surface, Borrett’s teaching style sounds orthodox. But though his approach focuses on traditional lectures, he isn’t simply reading from the textbook. Borrett makes sure to teach students not only what they need to know, but why they need to know it and how they can apply it.

“A lot of people tell us we’re not supposed to be lecturing, but students will come back quite often and ask for more lecture time,” said Borrett. “I have graduates that I still hear from who will make comments about something they heard in class ten years ago.”

Beyond compelling lectures, Borrett’s teaching philosophy centers on what he calls the professional triangle. This triangle is composed of Knowledge, Attitude, and Appearance.

Borrett tells students that it’s absolutely necessary for paramedics to have all three aspects of the triangle in order to enter a difficult scene, project leadership, and bring care and comfort to patients and families.

Staying Active in the Field

All of the EMS faculty, like Borrett, are current paramedics still working in the field. This is essential for keeping pace with industry standards.

“There are so many changes coming so fast, that if you’re not working out on the street you can very easily fall behind trends in patient care,” said Borrett.

One of the ways Borrett has kept up with trends in patient care is by serving as a community paramedic. Community paramedics go directly to patients’ homes on a schedule and follow up with them, making sure they have all their correct medications, that they’re getting the right nutrition, and that they’re following physician’s orders.

This is a type of patient care that is gaining popularity nationally – and for good reason. Community paramedics effectively relieve congestion in hospitals, reduce waiting times, and more importantly, save lives.

“It’s a unique program because we’re sending paramedics to keep people out of the hospital rather than bringing them in,” said Borrett.

Borrett is also active with the American Council on Education’s national military medical programs. Borrett, a military veteran himself, reviews the military medical curriculum and recommends college credit for the army, coast guard, and navy. As a result, military personnel that are discharged can transfer or get credit for the work they’ve done in active duty.

This may sound like a lot of work for one person to take on. But for Borrett, staying active in the field is worth the time and effort if it helps him better serve his students.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my graduating students,” said Borrett. “Seeing their success has been a reward on its own.”