(ABILENE, Texas) – Nicole King made a decision that changed her career path dramatically.
The former educator/coach and social worker decided that she wanted to work in the medical field. King said Texas State Technical College’s Emergency Medical Services program would lead her to a career in which she could continue to grow.
“I did some research because I had not been fond of medicine before,” she said. “I decided if I was going to study something in the medical field, the pre-hospital work would be the best fit for me.”
King is studying for a certificate of completion to become an Emergency Medical Technician, learning she has a future as a first responder.
“When COVID hit, I did not want to be working from home,” she said. “I knew working in the medical field would be done in the field because it is very hands-on.”
Another aspect of being an EMT is that King will never stop learning.
“Whether you are on the job four days or 40 years, you are always going to learn something,” she said. “There will be something new happening every day.”
King recently completed her last week of clinical training and is preparing to take the National Registry exam. She has seen different scenarios occur in the field, but one stood out.
While working at Hendrick Medical Center, King was able to watch a patient arrive on a helicopter.
“It was amazing to see how that process worked — from all of the equipment that is on the helicopter to seeing how they work to move him,” she said. “It was an experience I will never forget.”
King said one of the best aspects of the program is the quality of the instructors.
“This is the best program TSTC has to offer. The students get the best experience listening to the instructors,” she said.
How instructors prepare students was realized when King began clinical work in May.
“They connect the dots from the classroom to the field,” she said. “That is the sign of a good instructor, as well as a good student. I did not expect it to be as difficult as it has been, but I have not regretted making this career choice.”
King said a section on cardiology was challenging, but using what she learned and asking questions pulled her through.
“I did not know that one muscle affected so much of the body,” she said. “The instructors helped me understand what I need to know to help people.”
King said with the help of instructors, students are prepared for what they will face on a daily basis.
“I did not want to have that feeling of being helpless when I saw someone in need. Going through the program has prepared me to be more helpful,” she said.
Ronnie Pitts, the program’s statewide chair, said students like King will help fill the need for EMTs and paramedics. According to onetonline.org, the need for paramedics in Texas is expected to grow 11% by 2028.
“It has been difficult to fill the need for paramedics in Texas and nationwide,” Pitts said. “We just cannot turn them out fast enough.”
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Paramedic, as well as certificates of completion in Emergency Medical Services – EMT, Emergency Medical Services – Advanced EMT AEMT, and Emergency Medical Services – Paramedic. The program is available at the Abilene, Brownwood and Harlingen campuses.
Registration for the fall semester is underway. Scholarships are available. For more information, visit tstc.edu.