The Franklin County Department of Public Safety, in collaboration with The Franklin Center, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Carilion, Ferrum College and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), is proud to announce the introduction of the first and only Paramedic Registered Apprenticeship Program in the state of Virginia.

The launch of this groundbreaking initiative was marked by a Paramedic Apprentice Signing Day Ceremony on Wednesday, February 14, 2024. This program is designed to elevate the standards of paramedic services in Franklin County and create a robust pathway for aspiring paramedics.

By partnering with esteemed institutions like VCU Health, Carilion, and Ferrum College, Franklin County is spearheading a novel approach to paramedic training. The program will offer apprentices the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with the Franklin County Department of Public Safety while completing 4,000 hours of paid on-the-job training and more than 280 hours of related technical instruction. This comprehensive training regimen is aimed at achieving national certification and acquiring additional related credentials.

“Through IALR’s Expanding Talent through Registered Apprenticeship (ExTRA) program, we are thrilled to have supported this new apprenticeship opportunity,” said Natori Neal, apprenticeship coordinator II for IALR, which, as an intermediary or the Virginia Department of Workforce Development and Advancement, helped initiate and complete the registration with the state apprenticeship agency. “This program serves as a powerful precedent for expanding apprenticeship opportunities across diverse healthcare professions.”

The Paramedic Apprenticeship Program is set to bolster Franklin County’s paramedic workforce by providing tailored training programs that cater to the county’s specific needs. Moreover, apprentices will have the opportunity to earn wages while undergoing training, fostering an internal workforce pipeline and reducing reliance on external recruitment.

“The paramedic program is such an asset for Franklin County citizens. It provides an excellent career with great benefits and fills the need for more paramedics,” acknowledged Kathy Hodges, executive director of the Franklin Center. “I want to especially thank our team who brought this dream to reality: Franklin County Public Safety, Carilion, Ferrum College, and VCU Health.

Franklin County’s Paramedic Program is honored to offer the first paramedic apprenticeship in the Commonwealth.” Dr. Mirta Martin, president of Ferrum College added, “As the college of opportunity of Virginia, Ferrum College is proud to partner with our communities to provide the educated workforce industry seeks.”

“This collaborative effort has been a delight to observe from concept to delivery. We are grateful for this team and look forward to developing additional programs to support emergency services in the coming months,” said Dr. Jason Powell, associate vice president of academic affairs and chief innovation and research officer at Ferrum College.

The inaugural cohort of the Franklin County Paramedic Apprenticeship Program will consist of 9 participants, 5 of which formally commenced their apprenticeship on Wednesday, February 14, 2024, at the Franklin Center, at 2:30 pm.