How students in Maricopa County got paid to go through EMT training

AMR says the program has been a success across the country and in other areas of Arizona, including Tucson.
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 9:05 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Ten weeks of classes and ride-a-longs, all while getting paid minimum wage, ended with EMT jobs for 21 students in Mesa Wednesday night. They are the first graduates of the “Earn While You Learn” program in Maricopa County. It’s run through American Medical Response as a way to fill open positions and get interested students in the door.

“Probably just a stepping stone into nursing because that’s pretty much my ultimate goal,” said Ryleigh Rebenstorf. She’s one of 21 graduates and is following in her parents’ footsteps, Barbie and Rick. They have a combined 50 years of experience in the field. “Mama bear is super proud,” Barbie said. “It’s, it’s touching. It’s amazing. We didn’t think we would have any of our kids in the medical field.”

Not everyone can afford to go to work and school while also balancing family and life. EMTs play a special role in the medical field and are often the first faces you see in what can be a scary time of need. “I love that every day is a different day,” Rick said. “And there’s (sic) no two calls that are alike and you can never say that you’ve seen everything because something new will always bite you if you do say that.”

AMR says the program has been a success across the country and in other areas of Arizona, including Tucson, and it’s partnering with the Arizona Academy of Emergency Services in Mesa. “This is one of those unique positions where you get to truly touch the life of another person in their worst moment,” said David Tantone with AMR. “And make truly a difference in somebody else’s life.”

For the next round of “Earn While You Learn” in Maricopa County, it’s looking for 48 students. This time there will be opportunities in the East Valley and West Valley. Applications are being accepted for the program that begins on May 16. Here is more information on how to apply and qualify: