Wesley Brookshear wanted to grow in his profession as a paramedic and primary paramedic instructor. He found exactly what he was looking for in the “fantastic” online Adult Education and Training Program in Colorado State University’s School of Education.
Brookshear hails originally from Jonesborough, Tennessee, where he was born and raised. He has served as a paramedic since 2010 and a prehospital educator since 2017. He moved to Colorado Springs about five years ago.
“I never thought I would achieve a higher degree of education,” said Brookshear, “It was not common practice where I grew up and with the lack of money, education was never the first thought on my dream board. But CSU accepted me into the fold and made me feel so much stronger.”
Brookshear overcame several personal and professional obstacles to reach graduation. He says COVID-19 has been a “nightmare” for paramedics, and he has spent much of the pandemic providing testing to his field staff, as well as education throughout the constant changes.
“We are adding COVID-19 education to our primary education to help our paramedics be better prepared to deal with patients in the field,” he said.
Brookshear also cites his dyslexia as a major challenge he needed to overcome and he credits CSU faculty in the program as instrumental in helping him.
“Dr. Kaiser, Dr. Zarestky, and Dr. Gupta helped me find my written voice,” he said. “I have always been nervous about my written forms of communication. I happen to be dyslexic and this program helped me find my ability to write and feel confident in that ability. My professors would spend extra time with me and go through the process of what would make my voice shine on the paper.”
Brookshear identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and hopes his success will serve as inspiration to others.
“As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, growing up in rural Appalachia was not always easy,” he said, “and I kept going because I wanted other members of the LGBTQ+ community that loved their homes in Appalachia, but did not always fit in, to know they can also make their future dreams into realities.”
Amazing experiences at CSU
Brookshear took part in two amazing experiences at CSU which helped shape his teaching philosophy.
A seminar, “Adult Education – Experiential Learning,” helped him look at practical hands-on and “minds-on” education that could inspire paramedic students to be the best clinicians they can be.
“Also going to the CSU Mountain Campus with a whole bunch of Education enthusiasts is a great way to build bonds,” he said. “My life will forever be better because of my time at the Mountain Campus.”
Brookshear also participated in the study abroad course, “Spiritual Practices in Thailand.”
“This inspired me to look at why my students and myself do what we do,” he said. “Prehospital providers provide care because we have a calling to do so. We make medical calls in the field because of gut feelings or experiential learning we have been exposed to in the past.” He added about the international experience: “It was a life-altering experience that I was grateful to have.”
During his time at CSU, Brookshear was able to develop some innovative classes and curriculum. He developed a Transgender Patient Assessment class for emergency medical service students which he says has grown into an amazing program that helps people understand an “under-talked-about” community.
He and his work team also developed a national push for “stay interviews” during his “Introduction to Research” class to help with the staffing crisis in the emergency medical services community. Stay interviews are conducted to help managers understand why employees stay and what might cause them to leave.
Brookshear also developed an improved curriculum for prehospital providers.
“I went to get my master’s in education because I want to see paramedics and emergency medical technicians treated with the same respect as other healthcare fields,” he said. “Increasing my ability to teach has helped me develop stronger paramedics and EMTs that can lead the next generation in the field and save lives. I will always fight to make prehospital healthcare providers stronger and start transforming students from ‘technicians to clinicians’ which is one of my mantras. Paramedics and EMTs are seen as technicians when they have the potential to be the clinicians we should be recognized as.”
Brookshear says he found his dream job twice. The first time was when he got on an ambulance as a paramedic and served his community. Then about a year ago, he accepted a position as a primary paramedic educator at St. Anthony Paramedic Program at Penrose.
“I teach up to fifty-two new students a year how to start the amazing journey to become a paramedic,” he said. “I am so blessed that in my lifetime I have found what I love and am passionate about. With my master’s, I am going to continue to inspire my students and community to be stronger and provide excellent patient care.”
Teaching community education and volunteering are also part of Bookshear’s future plans. “Being in the Colorado Springs area and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I was deeply saddened by the Club Q shooting. Having students and friends on the scene of the club and the EMS side, several of us at St. Anthony’s have decided to volunteer our free time teaching a national course called ‘Stop the Bleed’ to anyone who will allow us.”
Brookshear will continue to make an impact in his field. “The biggest goal I have now is to make emergency medical services education the best I can. I want to strengthen the education our providers receive and help save as many lives as I can through my students who render care.”
The School of Education is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.