April 23, 2020

Alum Rachel Miller already had many of the qualities she needed to get her Paramedic training when she enrolled at Century College.  She is calm, resilient, flexible, and adapts easily to change. 

New Career Directions

In 2008, she graduated with a Communications degree from the University of Minnesota, before the financial crisis hit.  During the Recession, finding jobs in her chosen field was difficult, so Rachel began taking firefighting classes; however, in order to be a firefighter, she had to be an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).  She soon switched directions and got her EMT certification. 

Rachel was working as an EMT at Health East when she enrolled in Century College to get her Paramedic degree.

"I love Century College.  The faculty and staff have a lot of resources and connections with the EMS community in the Twin Cities," Rachel says. "They invest in the success of their students."

Building Camaraderie and Teamwork

Although the EMS/Paramedic field is highly stressful, Rachel went through her program with a tightly-knit group of other EMS professionals.   "We went through our cohort together, and quickly built camaraderie and a team," Rachel remembers.  "It was also helpful to be working the field as an EMT while in the program because I was better prepared than others.   In addition, I was able to get tuition reimbursement to do that."

Incorporating Theory and Practice

"I liked the way Century College faculty incorporate knowledge with skills, lectures and presentations.  First, we had good theory and then practice.  We had time to absorb the skills training.   The faculty also provided specialists and guest speakers with real life experiences," Rachel notes.  

Century College faculty provided skills stations as a part of the students' final exams, and professional field paramedics helped with testing. Another component of Century College's EMS/Paramedic education that Rachel enjoyed involved real-life simulation exercises and outdoor scenarios, and performing treatments in moving ambulances.  

Rachel adds, "We also were given an in-depth understanding of navigation--roads, freeways--in the entire country. It's crucial to have this kind of knowledge when you're in this field and you need to be able to locate a patient quickly.  And you need to know this, wherever you live in the U.S."

Another crucial factor in becoming a skilled EMS/Paramedic professional is the ability to listen to a patient.  "You are really being there for someone by giving them physical and emotional comfort when they are ill.  In a way, you have to be a borderline psychiatrist.  And you must be able to multitask--and be good at thinking, listening, moving  and talking--very quickly, while attending to the patient's needs," Rachel notes.  "Human relations skills are critical."

Coming Full Circle in Her Career

Rachel graduated from Century College in 2014.  She was hired in a newly created position in 2019, and she works as a Community Outreach Specialist at M Health Fairview EMS, where her communications and EMS/Paramedic skills dovetail nicely.  She works with fire and police departments and educators, bringing ambulances to schools, providing speaking opportunities for people in the various fields, and working at job fairs.  

She's also working on her Masters degree in Health and Human Services, and will continue to work in community service.  "The EMS/Paramedic field is a viable career," Rachel notes, "Growth rates are expected to increase by 18% and it's one of the biggest growing fields.  Century College was a vital part of my career path, and gave me the additional skills to get me where I am today."

Serving the Community During the Pandemic

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Rachel has been pulled from her regular duties to work a few extra shifts as a paramedic.  She notes, "The pandemic shows just how important first responders and emergency providers are, but our job has not changed. We are always ready 365 days a year to help in an emergency. Whether it is a snowstorm, house fire, car accident or fall."

"While the constant information and data stream of the severity of this situation across the world weighs heavily on our shoulders, we have trained for this. We all just put our heads down and get back to work.  I hope that this pandemic doesn't scare people away from a job in emergency medicine, because it really is a rewarding profession." 

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