June 07--If there was ever any question about the effectiveness of Lenoir Community College's Emergency Medical Services program, the school now has an answer.
The program was recently named the third-best online paramedic program in the country by bestcolleges.com.
According to the website, the ranking is attributed to a variety of factors -- including retention, class size, affordability and academic quality -- when compared to other schools with similar programs.
The data used to determine a school's ranking is collected from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and the National Center for Education Center Statistics.
One factor weighing heavily in the school's favor was the hybrid program, which allows students to split their education between online and in-classroom sections.
"That seems to be the big draw for everyone around the country," Justin Tilghman, director of LCC's public safety programs, said.
Thanks to the hybrid program, Tilghman said the EMS program regularly has students from as far away as California taking online classes through LCC and either traveling to the school to receive training in person or arranging to do clinical hours in their home state.
The program is also popular with EMTs and paramedics looking to maintain their certifications to work.
"A lot of people say (the hybrid program) doesn't work, but clearly it can," he said.
The LCC program placed ahead of Broward College in Fort Lauderadale, Fla. and behind Davidson County Community college in Thomasville, and North Central Missouri College in Trenton, Mo.
"As far as I know, we are the only school on that list that's fully accredited (for hybrid education)," Tilghman said.
Christine Turner, EMS program chairwoman and an instructor at LCC, said she was "floored and humbled," to hear about LCC's ranking.
"It tells us that we have been able to provide that education for people who need it in a way that is beneficial to them," she said. "The volume of students we are getting shows the hybrid education model works for EMS."
Dustin George can be reached at 252-559-1077 or Dustin.George@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DustinGeorgeKFP.