SPRING HILL - Pasco-Hernando Community College ranked 36 out of more than 1,100 colleges in the nation that offer Emergency Medical Technician programs, providing the best return on investment for its graduates.
Not-for-profit organization Fire Science Online identified programs with the highest return on investment using national salary, tuition, enrollment and accreditation data, and a total of 20 post-secondary institutions in the Florida College System were among the top 80.
The list recognizes institutions with significantly lower-than-average tuition rates in states where graduates are well paid.
Scott Scurlock, EMS programs coordinator for the college, credits the program's success to good rapport with local fire rescue agencies, a strong advisory board of medical and emergency rescue professionals and intelligent spending practices on the college's part that helps keep tuition low.
"School is quite expensive nowadays, so we don't make students buy things just because but make sure that it's valuable to them," Scurlock said. "We do have a strong bond with fire rescue services around here, and they let us ride on their trucks for clinicals and get to see what the students are made of."
Scurlock, a graduate of PHCC's program and a 25-year professional in the industry, has spent 22 of those years in Hernando County. Since he joined the college in 1994, PHCC and local emergency medical agencies have tried to retain local talent in programs and professions that have grown increasingly limited.
"We usually have 90 percent of students that are Hernando and Pasco residents," Scurlock said. "It's actually part of our enrollment process, because we have such a limited access program."
With hiring freezes in place for paramedics, the dynamics of the workforce have changed, Scurlock said. Many students are already certified EMTs but are working toward added certifications to make themselves more marketable.
"I've got a very good rapport with the local agencies, which helps our students as well," Scurlock said. "Pasco only allows our institutions to ride the local trucks. They stand behind us 100 percent, which helps the community college, and we really appreciate that."
"I have to give them kudos, because it's a higher rate of pay in comparison to other parts of the country," he added.
According to Florida Department of Education estimates, basic Emergency Medical Technicians in Florida earn an average annual full-time wage of $30,488. In 2011, 72 percent of all Florida basic EMT graduates were employed.
PHCC will hold its annual College Night for prospective Hernando County students at Nature Coast Technical High School 6-8 p.m. Thursday, according to the college.
For more information, call (877) TRY-PHCC.