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Phoenix Forward

University of Phoenix provides higher learning for emergency preparedness

Firefighters preparing.

First responders, like paramedics and firefighters, are on the front lines saving lives every day. Some emergency personnel, as they progress in their career, may want to move on from saving individual lives to managing emergency situations that affect more people. For them, and others who work in crisis events, a new degree concentration at University of Phoenix — Bachelor of Science in Health Administration with a concentration in Emergency Management — is designed to expand their expertise and skills in emergency management.

Made possible through an education partnership between Emergency Medical Services Corporation (EMSC) and the University, this program helps emergency personnel develop an understanding of business as it relates to health care. Students will study management; planning for emergency-response situations; financial, legal and ethical guidelines; human resources; and information systems. It's already gaining traction: The collaboration caught the attention of Chief Learning Officer magazine, which honored the University with an award of excellence for academic partnerships.

The world of emergency and disaster preparedness has evolved so much in the past decade that it's even more critical today.

"We're taking people who are already paramedics and first responders and allowing them to build on their career with a new concentration in emergency management," says Beth Patton, associate dean of the College of Natural Sciences, who was involved in implementing the program. The program's students have already acquired technical knowledge in their prior training and experiences; now, this new program "will give them skills to better manage and plan for emergency-response operations, and help them improve services in their communities," Patton says.

Through its collaboration with EMSC, the University gained a deeper understanding of the emergency-services industry, Patton says. One result: The school created virtual-learning environments that mirror the various responsibilities students might face in an emergency-management job.

"We've created something like a virtual playground," Patton says. "These virtual companies, including an ambulance company and the financial department of a hospital, give students critical, hands-on experience." Students who are interested in preparing a budget for an ambulance company, for instance, can create a virtual one online.

"We try not to repeat anything that they already had in their paramedic training, for example," Patton says. "We're really giving them their next set of skills."

"The world of emergency and disaster preparedness has evolved so much in the past decade that it's even more critical today," Patton says. "Since 9/11, the priorities of emergency services are very different. We need to give people a historical perspective of where we've come from in the world of paramedics, and where we see the future going."




Use of the words partner or partnership is not intended to create a legal partnership.

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