2021 National EMS Education Standards Rollout

For the past year, the ACE Division has worked closely with Training & Certification and Medical Direction Committees to plan for the statewide rollout of the new 2021 National EMS Education Standards (NEMSES).  These state committees and a number of your fellow educators have worked tirelessly over the past 6 months to develop policies, procedures and guidance documents to help ensure this transition is a smooth one.

At their May 2022 meeting the EMS Advisory Board unanimously approved a motion from the Training & Certification Committee to move forward with the process of adoption of the 2021 NEMSES.  The ACE Division is now in the process of developing the necessary materials to roll-out these new changes to all certified Education Coordinators in the Commonwealth this fall.  There will be 11 roll-out sessions across the state—one in each regional council area.

If you have not been actively following these changes through attendance at committee meetings or reading the updates provided by the ACE Division in the Quarterly EMS Advisory Board Report, then you will find that Virginia is taking bold steps moving Virginia’s EMS education forward during this transition.

If there is a silver lining to a worldwide pandemic, the changes OEMS put in place due to COVID, forced everyone to think outside the box—this included our 700+ certified Education Coordinators.  This “outside of the box” thinking resulted in new ways of conducting EMS education—specifically the learning domain—which includes all didactic, psychomotor, and affective learning that an EMS learner should be taught during an EMS course to become an entry-level apprentice.

New ways of learning for students and a renewed focus on the “big picture question” in EMS: Can EMS educators & students be rewired to think of the call critically “from dispatch to transfer of care at a hospital?

Gone are the days of simple rote memorization and parroting of one or more skills from a skills sheets.  This practice did not produce skilled practitioners or clinicians, instead, it created pre-programmed providers who then had difficulty thinking critically on a fluid scene.

Virginia’s EMS education system is embracing a bold, new educational model which will focus on creating EMS providers who are first and foremost critical thinkers capable of managing a call from dispatch through transfer of care at a hospital.  Our aim is to create a learning environment where Virginia EMS providers develop not only medical skills but the analytical framework necessary to apply their trade in such a way as to live by the words of Dr. Thomas Frist: “Take care of the patient and everything else will follow.”

Anecdotal evidence shows that 27 months from the onset of COVID-19 in the United States, Virginia’s EMS educators are making progress embracing this bold, new educational model, in large part thanks to the need for quick thinking due to the pandemic.

Since a large part of this rollout involves certification testing information, most of the documentation for this rollout will be found on Blackboard in the Education Coordinator Village organization for security and to limit access to only certified EMS educators.

Publicly available information includes: