The Charger Blog

University’s Paramedicine Program at the Forefront of Preparing Students for Rewarding Careers in Healthcare

Meet two recent graduates of the University’s paramedicine program who are looking forward to continuing their education and pursuing careers in medicine.

April 1, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Alicia Martin-Conyers ’20 and her classmates.
Alicia Martin-Conyers ’20 (center) and her classmates gain hands-on experience on campus in 2018.

After Natasha Pavlinetz ’20 graduated from the University of New Haven, she began working as a paramedic in rural Alaska. She was a first responder covering a nearly 15,000 square mile area, and that meant sometimes driving an hour and a half one way to respond to a call.

Working with just one partner, Pavlinetz had to learn to think quickly, and she describes her work as a “great experience.” A graduate of the University’s paramedicine program, she credits her time as a Charger with helping her to feel prepared to serve her patients in Alaska.

“I researched programs across the country and spoke with faculty in all of them,” she said. “But when I met Professor Peter Struble and Professor Joe Soto at the University of New Haven, I knew this was the program for me. They are very dedicated, and they want students to be great paramedics.”

Peter Struble, MPA.
Peter Struble, MPA is the director of the University’s paramedicine program.
‘It is always exciting to see gifted students realize their potential’

In connection with an executive order that enables paramedics to work in hospitals during the coronavirus global pandemic, Pavlinetz has transitioned to working at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She has been accepted into the University of Medicine and Health Sciences, St. Kitts, making her the first graduate of the paramedicine program to be accepted to medical school.

As Pavlinetz has found, the program has provided a pathway for the future. Students immerse themselves in hands-on and real-world learning opportunities, such as riding along with ambulance services and practicing skills such as starting IV lines on high-fidelity mannequins. Graduates hold dual certification as both a firefighter and a paramedic.

Natasha Pavlinetz ’20
Natasha Pavlinetz ’20 served as a paramedic in rural Alaska

Peter Struble, MPA, director of the paramedicine program, is an expert in fire department-based emergency medical services at the paramedicine level. A retired fire chief who served nearly 30 years as a member of the Wallingford, Conn. Fire Department, including 13 years as a chief, he is eager to share his own real-world experiences with his students.

"Our students attend clinical rotations in hospital emergency departments and on specialty floors,” said Struble, who, as a fire chief, was among fewer than 100 fire officers in the country to be accredited as both a chief fire and medical officer. “It is always exciting to see gifted students realize their potential and strive for excellence as professional healthcare providers."

Alicia Martin-Conyers ’20, Pavlinetz’s classmate, is also looking forward to continuing her education. She will begin her studies at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, with which the University has an affiliation agreement, in June.

“The best thing about the paramedicine program is how it is set up in cohorts,” said Martin-Conyers, who completed a double major in paramedicine and biology pre-med. “I like how the cohort became a second family, and there was always someone there if you needed help. I also enjoyed the clinical rotations, and these hours gave me a robust experience. This gave me a huge advantage over other college graduates.”

‘I have the skills I will need to succeed in medical school’

Now working at Saint Clare’s Denville Hospital in Denville, NJ, Martin-Conyers is a nursing assistant in the Telemetry/Progressive Care Unit. She also has experience volunteering in hospitals and nursing homes, as well as serving as an emergency medical technical (EMT) and a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

Martin-Conyers, who aspires to become a physician assistant (PA) in a hospital as a surgical or OB/GYN PA, endeavors to help foster diversity in the field.

Alicia Martin-Conyers ’20.
Alicia Martin-Conyers ’20.

“While growing up it was a rarity to see an African American healthcare worker,” she said. “Representation matters – even today. African Americans only make up three percent of the PA profession. I hope one day to help others by sharing my experiences and being a mentor. I look forward to the day when a young African American girl can see herself in me and pursue similar positions practicing medicine. I know that becoming a PA is the best way that I can positively contribute to my community.”

The University’s paramedicine program, offered in conjunction with Yale New Haven Hospital, enables students to gain more than 700 hours of clinical and internship experience and to take classes through the Yale University School of Medicine.

Pavlinetz, who will begin medical school in August, says she feels prepared to continue her education, and she’s grateful for the real-world experience she had in the paramedicine program.

“I have the skills I will need to succeed in medical school,” she said. “The clinicals we did at the University of New Haven were amazing, and I expect the clinicals I have in medical school will be easier for me because of the experiences I had.”