Transport Tales: Grace Ulferts


Grace Ulferts recently entered her Junior Year at Northeastern University in Boston. As a sophomore she participated in the school’s internationally recognized Co-Op program where she was afforded an opportunity to join the Coastal Medical Transportation Systems’ team as a certified EMT. Here is her story.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today, Grace. As more than 19,000 Northeastern University students recently headed back to school in Boston for the fall semester, we’d love to hear more about your experience in the school’s Co-Op program and working at CMTS as part of this experience. Can we start off by talking about the program?

Sure! So, the Northeastern Co-Op program was started over 100 years ago offering students an opportunity to alternate school semesters with periods of full-time paid work. The idea behind the program is that it provides students like me with the opportunity to explore career paths, make valuable industry connections, and acquire the skills and knowledge needed to succeed —all while learning and growing outside the comfort zone of the classroom. In fact, it was the Co-Op program that really drew me to Northeastern as I loved the idea of being exposed to real-world job experiences prior to graduation.

So how does the co-op work when it comes to connecting students with the best-fit job opportunities out in the real world?

Because the program is so well-established there were so many options when it came to choosing a work-study experience. In fact, I applied to over 40 internships in a wide range of industries before I landed on the CMTS opportunity. As a behavioral neuroscience and philosophy major was really looking for something that could marry my clinical interests and my interest in psychiatry while presenting me with a chance to have a real-world impact on the community. The CMTS position really aligned with what I wanted to do as a career which was a huge  benefit- especially as I truly believe that delivering  patient care now would be a very important steppingstone to landing my first job in healthcare

Can you talk a bit about the training you received as part of the program? How did CMTS help prepare you for the EMT role?

CMTS did an amazing job preparing me for my work out on the field. Being an EMT is not like a desk job and ensuring that you are receiving the right level of education right from the beginning is so critical. Me and the other Co-Op students (10 in total) attended EMT classes in Cambridge where we received the necessary training,  took the required exams, participated in a number of patient scenario simulations and completed our medical assessment testing. I was so grateful that the supervisors I had at CMTS were so supportive of me throughout the whole process.

What about the experience did you find especially rewarding?

I’ve always found that it is better to ask a lot of questions than not at all and the team at CMTS always made themselves available to me. EMT work is serious so knowing that I was never alone and could always ask for support or help in the role meant the world to me. I think it was gaining these hands on experiences while working with a team that always supported me that was the best thing about my co-op. 

Once the Co-Op came to an end did you still have an opportunity to continue working with CMTS?

Actually yes, I still had my EMT license, so I was excited that the certification allowed me to continue working with CMTS on weekends throughout the summer. For interested Co-Op students it’s great that the program affords us with a chance to extend our position  with the organization even after the formal work-study initiative is over.

What advice would you give to other Northeastern students looking to explore an EMT Co-Op?

Well it’s worth noting that you should prepare yourself as it’s not like working in front of a computer all day and it can be  both a phyiscially and emotionally demanding position. That said the reward of possibly having a hand in saving a person’s  life far outweighs the hard work. I had a supervisor that gave me some great advice. “Someone else’s emergency is not your emergency.” This was a great perspective that I carried with me and helped me remain even keeled on even the most challenging days. Don’t carry the weight of the work home with you.