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Confronting a workforce shortage: Northland Community & Technical College’s new ‘hyflex’ format expands access to frontline healthcare degree


Confronting a workforce shortage: Northland Community & Technical College’s new ‘hyflex’ format expands access to frontline healthcare degree

Along with two new scholarship opportunities, the paramedic program’s new hybrid option aims to boost enrollment.

Last year, classrooms were at capacity inside Northland Community and Technical College’s paramedic program. Next year, Northland hopes to keep the seats mostly empty, while simultaneously increasing enrollment. 

How? With a new “Hyflex” hybrid model, students enrolling this coming fall 2024 will be able to complete much of their coursework online, coming to campus only for required hands-on skills training, clinicals, and testing. 

“Paramedics play a critical role in our healthcare system and in community health,” said Dr. Sandy Kiddoo, President of Northland. “During my first year as we were developing the strategic plan, we met with various industry sectors, and I heard loud and clear the need to have a more flexible format for students pursuing this program, as many were working or traveling and needed the flexibility to make it work.” 

New Director 

The program also has a new leader in Nichole Sullivan, a 2006 graduate of Northland’s program who’s beginning her first year as program director. Sullivan expressed excitement about being back at Northland and playing a crucial role in establishing the program’s new format. 

“We recognize that many potential students are busy with work and family,” Sullivan said. “These commitments make it hard to be on campus, so our goal is to make the program accessible to more people. While skills labs and clinicals still require on-campus time, we moved our lecture portion online and condensed our labs into a couple of days every other week.” 

Sullivan explains that students have a range of options to choose from according to their career goals. The program offers a one-year diploma, but students can also opt for an Associate’s degree. According to Sullivan, both learning paths equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge for highly sought-after job opportunities. 

“Once a student has completed all the required testing and clinical hours,” Sullivan said, “they are eligible to take the National Registry Exam to become a licensed paramedic. Most of our current students already have jobs waiting for them when they graduate and are easily able to transition into the workforce. Plus, many states recognize this license, giving graduates a variety of options. In this area, the average pay is around $50,000 a year according to the U.S. Department of Labor.” 

New Scholarships

While the cost of attending Northland continues to be among the lowest in the region, a new scholarship open to Minnesota residents sweetens this economic incentive even more. It’s called the Minnesota Paramedic Scholarship and was approved during the 2023 Minnesota Legislative session. 

According to the Minnesota Ambulance Association, 800 ambulances with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers respond to almost 715,000 service calls across the state each year. Recognizing this statewide need, the legislature’s goal is to increase the number of licensed paramedics in Minnesota by offering up to 600 scholarships of $5000 each starting Fall 2024. A total of $3 million has been set aside for the scholarship. To apply for the Minnesota Paramedic Scholarship and learn more about its requirements, interested students can visit

In addition to the Minnesota Paramedic Scholarship, another scholarship opportunity has been announced by the North Dakota EMS Foundation. For the first time ever, students either living or working in North Dakota are eligible to apply for the Foundation’s annual $1,000 scholarship. Previously, the scholarship was only available to students attending schools in North Dakota. Those interested in applying can learn more about the scholarship and its requirements by visiting