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New program gives high school students head start toward careers as EMTs

“This is one more step closer to what I want to do"

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Leah Lee is a high school senior, but she is already gaining real-world experience that will help her accomplish her goal of becoming a doctor through a new program at Ritenour High School.

“This is one more step closer to what I want to do,” Lee said. “The end goal for me is to be an anesthesiologist. I’ll be going to Maryville, majoring in nursing. Just to get my foot in the door, already be in the hospital and then I’ll go to medical school for anesthesiology.”

Lee is one of a dozen Ritenour High School students who are participating in an “earn as you learn” opportunity, so they can work as emergency medical technicians soon after they graduate from high school.

“It’s so much homework, but I like to do the homework,” Lee said.

Students take the EMT course for a couple of hours every school day during the semester. After they complete the program with Abbott EMS, then they take the National Registry EMT exam. Those who pass will qualify for a Missouri EMT-B license and are eligible to start working full-time as an EMT through Abbott.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page met with students Tuesday and to talk about the importance of programs like it.

“It’s important that these sorts of programs are available in high school, so kids have a job when they graduate," Page said. "We need to focus more on job training and workforce development that is an alternative to a traditional, four-year degree. Lots of jobs in our region need to be identified and matched with someone who’s interested in that field.”

Tuition, supplies and uniforms are provided for free to students enrolling in the Ritenour program, according to a news release.

“We are inspired by the interest in the program at Ritenour and are excited to get this program to more high schools across the St. Louis area,” said Mark Corley, Regional Director of AMR, Abbott’s parent company. “Getting this program into more high schools is one more way we can offer students another avenue to consider after graduation.”

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