Launching a paramedic educational program in India was not without obstacles and challenges. First, we had to recruit the right students and instructors to be successful. Remarkably, our students were willing to commit two-years of their lives to an unproven career path, and in doing so became part of the first generation of Indian paramedics. And, many of our ACEs left successful medical careers to join us and fill a needed void in EMS education in India.
Language also proved to be a significant barrier. Though all students had learned English, their true comfort and proficiency widely varied. They had trouble with ours accents and we with theirs. Many students struggled early on as our educational materials and instruction was in English. However, by modifying the curriculum to include medical English classes, small group sessions with the ACEs, and leadership and communication training, we observed a dramatic improvement in language proficiency over time. By their graduation, all of the students were facile with medical and conversational English.
As with all educational endeavors of this magnitude, attrition was a factor. A number of instructors and even some students left the PGPEC due to family commitments and illness, financial hardships, and alternative opportunities. Despite these hurdles, the overall retention rate and success of the PGPEC far exceeded our expectations. We proudly marveled as our students and ACEs developed into skilled clinicians, responsible role models and future leaders.
Over the course of our two-year engagement, Stanford sent twenty-five instructors (ten EM faculty members, three EM fellows, six EM residents, five students, four US-trained paramedics, and two nurses) to teach at the EMRI campus in Hyderabad. In July 2009, we turned over the complete responsibility for the paramedic-training program to the ACEs and EMRI staff, a defining moment in Indian EMS education. From 2007-2009, EMRI and Stanford established a novel, comprehensive paramedic training program that simultaneously trained its inaugural class of paramedic students and instructors, thereby ensuring future viability. It is our sincere hope that the EMRI-Stanford paramedic program will serve as a replicable paradigm for the development of sustainable educational courses elsewhere in India and in other developing nations.
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Mahadevan S, Strehlow M, Chiao A, Ramana Rao GV, Shelke D, Rajhans P.: Development of a Self-Sustaining Paramedic Educational Program in India. EMCON, Guwahati, India, 2009.
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Mantha A, Gupta A, Strehlow M, Mahadevan S.: Development of Focused Leadership Curriculum for Paramedic Students in India. EMCON, Guwahati, India, 2009