LITTLE ROCK – A new bachelor’s degree program in emergency medical sciences, the first of its kind in the state, will start this summer at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), designed to enhance the management and clinical skills of emergency services professionals.

The Department of Emergency Medical Sciences (EMS) in the UAMS College of Health Professions recently received approval from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education Coordinating Board to offer the first Bachelor of Science degree in EMS. The program expects to enroll 12 licensed paramedics as the first students for the summer 2013 semester.

Daniel Bercher, Ph.D., department chair, said program will produce graduates prepared to be EMS managers and educators with skills above the current associate’s degree level. In addition to equipping EMS professionals with more advanced skills, he expects it will open inroads to interdisciplinary community health and wellness opportunities.

“We believe a new area is opening up for our discipline as a community health paramedic,” Bercher said. “This degree will equip graduates with the skills they will need to be better leaders and managers, open up new clinical possibilities to expand their job opportunities and provide them another pathway to become an EMS educator.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in the field of emergency medical services to grow faster than average for all occupations from 2010-2020. An aging population with more age-related emergencies and more demand for patient transfer services is expected to create more job opportunities in the future.

The program is the first in Arkansas and the 16th offered in the country. To find out more, visit the department’s website, www.uams.edu/chrp/ems.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 775 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com.