June 21, 2024

Wellness Nest

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A Launchpad for Healthcare Professionals

3 min read

At Valley Medical Transport (VMT), flexibility isn’t just a perk—it’s a cornerstone of our commitment to supporting the next generation of healthcare professionals. For those like Cole Armel, a junior at James Madison University (JMU) and a current Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with VMT who aspires to become a doctor, this flexibility has been instrumental in pursuing a career in medicine.

Cole’s journey with Valley Health began long before he donned the EMT uniform. Inspired by his pediatrician, Dr. John Volinsky, at Winchester Pediatric Clinic, Cole harbored dreams of becoming a doctor from a young age. “Dr. Volinsky always treated me like a person, not just a kid,” Cole recalls. “He’d say, ‘You need to have good grades to be a doctor,’ and always ask about my schooling during our appointments.”

Through an informational interview with Valley Health Chief Quality and Patient Safety Officer Dr. Nicolas Restrepo, Cole learned the importance of gaining field experience to bolster his medical school application. Following this advice, Cole joined VMT and found a unique opportunity that provided hands-on experience and accommodated his academic schedule. “I work at VMT during my breaks—summer and holidays—and plan to continue during my gap year after graduation,” says Cole, who is set to graduate from JMU in 2025.

VMT’s flexibility extends to many of its team members who, like Cole, are balancing their roles with educational pursuits. Many are on flexible schedules while studying to become Physician Assistants or nurses. This environment fosters a supportive community where aspiring healthcare professionals can thrive.

A standout feature of VMT is Valley Health’s very own EMT School —a free, fully paid 10-week training program that boasts a 100% pass rate on the EMT exam. This program is a testament to VMT’s commitment to education and professional development, offering a seamless entry into the healthcare field for those passionate about making a difference.

Cole is particularly grateful for the breadth of experiences he’s had with Valley Health, from volunteering in the neurology unit with the college-aged student PALs volunteer program to shadowing Nick Seward, PA, in the Winchester Medical Center Emergency Department (ED). These opportunities have solidified his aspiration to become an ED physician. “Shadowing Nick Seward helped me realize that emergency medicine is where I want to be,” Cole shares.

Looking ahead, Cole is excited to apply to medical schools. “The experiences I’ve had here have been invaluable,” he says. “I hope to one day come back and practice in this community.”

For those interested in healthcare and seeking a flexible yet comprehensive way to gain field experience, Valley Medical Transport offers a pathway that’s both supportive and enriching. As Cole’s journey shows, VMT is more than just a steppingstone—it’s a community dedicated to nurturing the healthcare leaders of tomorrow.

Learn more about Valley Health’s EMT school here.


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