Date of Award

8-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

E. Grady Bogue

Committee Members

Norma Mertz, Terrell Strayhorn, Patricia Freeland

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the attitudes and action plans of North Carolina Emergency Medical Services (EMS) education leaders related to the impending policy initiative of national EMS education program accreditation. The study utilized a purposive sample of EMS education leaders in North Carolina, including the current program directors of nine nonaccredited associate degree programs in EMS in North Carolina and two administrative representatives from the North Carolina Office of EMS. Data were collected utilizing three different qualitative methods, including in-depth interviews, field notes, and document analysis. Five main recurring themes were derived from the data, including 1) accreditation will bring many benefits to programs that seek it, 2) accreditation will bring many challenges to programs that seek it, 3) the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians‟ decision to require national EMS program accreditation before graduates can take the national certifying examination had a resounding positive, but debatable effect on EMS education leaders in North Carolina, 4) accreditation will have a profound, positive effect on the EMS profession, and 5) the majority of the participants have an accreditation action plan.

Overall, the attitudes of the participants towards national EMS program accreditation were positive. While numerous benefits were named by most of the participants, there still remains some question as to the benefits of accreditation. Participant concerns included lack of time and resources to prepare for accreditation and the overall cost of accreditation. The decision by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians requiring candidates to graduate from an accredited EMS program by 2013 forced many participants into action, preparing for and seeking accreditation much earlier than if no deadline had been established. Accreditation is expected to elevate the EMS profession to the stature of other allied health and mainstream health professions, to improve salary, to establish increased levels of professionalism, and to create continuity in EMS education across the United States. Finally, the majority of the participants have established action plans to address the accreditation process. Recommendations were made for action by local, state and national EMS entities and were made for future research involving accreditation.

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