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Total Access Urgent Care opens EMT school to battle industry-wide staffing shortages

Total Access Urgent Care has just graduated its first class of EMT students, as the health care industry struggles with long-standing staff shortages.

ST. LOUIS — Staff at Total Access Urgent Care saw 616,000 patients last year. They'd like to see more, but one thing is holding them back: a national staffing shortage.

"I think health care is something that it's just in your blood," Director of Clinical Operations Kelly Baynes said.

A former EMT herself, Baynes now works closely with TAUC's solution for the staff shortage: a new EMT school.

"For somebody to want to come in and into the health care field during a pandemic, you have to really want to help somebody and make a difference."

"I would recommend it to anyone," recent graduate Rachel Brown said. 

First conceived pre-pandemic, the program launched in November. The program comes with two options with seven-week or 12-week schedules. 

Another grad, Angela Quinn, said the pandemic did give her pause.

"COVID hit, and I thought 'well, I can't do that quite yet,'" she said with a laugh. "Anybody who knows me would be like 'what are you doing?' because I was so petrified of that. But, in the grand scheme of things, it's about helping people who may be in the situation that I was in."

Baynes said long-standing shortages have been compounded by the pandemic. Now, record positivity rates in the omicron spike are forcing current staff to quarantine.

"We're up to 36.5% [positivity]," she explained. "Our highest rate last year was 35.1%. We have already superseded that [number] for this year. It's definitely a big increase over the past three weeks or so."

Both former TAUC patients, Brown and Quinn are now graduate looking forward to the next transition: employees.

"I'm really excited to get in there and just start helping people, Quinn said.

TUAC is offering full reimbursement on its $1,200 tuition for students who stay on after graduation.