Serving Bay, Gratiot, Isabella, Midland, & Saginaw Counties

Paramedic Shortage Leads to "Grow Your Own" Partnership


Paramedic Shortage Leads to “Grow Your Own” Partnership

Faced with 25 open paramedic positions and no qualified candidates on file, Mobile Medical Response (MMR) turned to the Talent Experts at Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! last year for help. The result? An accelerated emergency medical technician (EMT)-to-paramedic training program that pays students to train. A model for success, the program was nominated for the 2017 Michigan Works Association Impact Award.

“The lack of paramedics poses a significant health risk to citizens across our local communities, around the state and nation,” says Steve Myers, MMR’s director of patient access. “MMR’s ability to respond with the appropriate resources in the expected time frame is threatened due to the shortage. It is a critical community need and the problem requires innovative solutions.”

Like many employers in the region facing shortages of qualified workers, MMR determined the best option is to “grow our own.” Collaboration with GLBMW! to develop the pilot program was essential, Myers explains.

Paramedic training takes 12-14 months. Before becoming a paramedic, students must first be licensed as EMTs and work shadow with paramedics. GLBMW! not only helps MMR earn Skilled Trades Training Fund (STTF) grants for the program, it also provides MMR with help recruiting, screening, and on-boarding candidates for the initial 7-week EMT training and certification. Successful candidates are paid to train, allowing them to focus their attention on their rigorous studies.

Once licensed, students are hired as EMTs by MMR and begin working and gaining valuable experience, while also taking the paramedic course. MMR’s first pilot program netted 12 certified and licensed EMTs, nine of whom enrolled immediately in paramedic training.

“I would not be able to do any of this without the opportunity and the financial help I received from Michigan Works!,” says Grant Burch, one of the nine who was certified as an EMT under the first program in 2017 and is now taking the paramedic course. “This is the start of a new chapter in my life.”

This opportunity is life-changing for students – many of whom are underemployed or unemployed – AND game-changing for their employer. “This program gives us the ability to find hope in a desperate situation,” Myers says.

MMR was one of 49 employers awarded STTF funds in 2018. “Our hope is to expand the program this year, taking lessons learned and grow the concept,” Myers explains.

Student Karen Scheib is clearly pleased with the accelerated training. “I really enjoy the fast pace of class, which also allowed me to start working as an EMT within a short time. Now being in the paramedic class, I feel like I am building on my EMT training and am excited to be working so quickly toward my goals.”

MMR paramedics earn $42,045 to $65,500 annually. This wage, coupled with generous health care, insurance, education and fringe benefits, creates a solid career path for those looking for a long-term health career.

“I am so grateful for this experience,” says EMT and paramedic trainee Nancy McMurray. “I have grown so much as an individual. I get to have a job I absolutely love and get to make a difference in someone else’s life.”

MMR will continue to work with GLBMW! to attract qualified candidates for the program, using several communications vehicles, including social media.

MMR is a private, non-profit, full-service medical transportation company formed in 1994, serving 15 counties throughout mid and northern Michigan and employing nearly 650 employees company wide. MMR is the only provider of EMT and paramedic training in the region, ( facilities in Saginaw and Mt. Pleasant) with the exception of two hospitals that provide training exclusively for their personnel needs.

If you are an employer facing difficult recruiting challenges, contact the Talent Experts at Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! in Saginaw, Midland, Bay City, Mt. Pleasant, and Alma. Or email

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