Mount Wachusett Community College has hired Peter Laitinen to oversee the college’s new Paramedic Technology Certificate program. In his new role, Laitinen will help mold the program not only to local needs, but ensure that it meets the strict requirements that will allow students to gain their certifications after graduation.
“Paramedic programs need to meet the need of the area in which they are being held… it’s crucial to understand the needs of the community to make better paramedics. Different systems have different needs,” said Laitinen whose title is Department Chair for the School of Health Professions, Public Service Programs and Social Science.
To meet the requirements for the program, the director had to be a national registered paramedic with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher. It was a needle in a haystack, said Margaret Jaillet, Assistant Dean for MWCC’s School of Health Professions, Public Service Programs and Social Sciences. But after several years of search, MWCC was able to find a qualified local candidate in Laitinen.
“Peter rose to the top because he has local connections, as well as state and national connections,” said Jaillet. “He can speak to the needs of the local community.”
Laitinen has over 30 years of experience working in the healthcare field. He worked as a paramedic for Wood’s Ambulance Service from 1985 to 2013. Laitinen also has been working as a registered nurse at Heywood Hospital since 2009. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Curry College and a Certificate in Paramedic Technology from Northeastern University. He served as the Paramedic Program Assistant Director and Clinical Coordinator at Northeastern University for five years.
The paramedic program at Mount Wachusett Community College will be designed to provide current basic emergency medical technicians with the opportunity to advance to paramedic level certification. Careers as a paramedic include 911 EMS services, transport ambulance services and Flight & Critical Care Medicine.
“The paramedic is the premier of pre-hospital medical care,” said Laitinen who explained that many people become paramedics while they are young and then transition into other medical roles. “Paramedicine is a fabulous stepping stone.”
The national and state standards provide a detailed framework that will prepare paramedic students to be eligible to take the Massachusetts psychomotor exam for paramedics and the written National Registry Exam for Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) as paramedics. The program is projected to be 46 credits intended to be completed in 18 months of full-time enrollment including summers.
While it is being designed to meet strict state and national standards, the Mount’s program will be tailored to local needs of area fire departments and ambulance services. This will allow graduates to tap into the high-demand in the local market, said Jaillet.
Fred LeBlanc, Fire Science Program Consultant for Mount Wachusett Community College, confirmed that there is a local need for more paramedics. Many firefighters become paramedics early in their careers, and then as they take on more responsibility they are less able to fill that paramedic role.
“The need stays constant for paramedics and will only grow as fire departments become more oriented to community services that will include medical screening, clinics, and early preventative intervention as a result of the affordable care act,” LeBlanc said.
Those seeking more information about the program are encouraged to email MWCC admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org with Paramedic in the subject line, or call the department at 978-630-9110.