When you are on the brink of change and soon realize you want to make a greater impact on others you must act on it.
For alumnus Andy Hargarten, the decision to contribute in a greater way to the community came to him when he was a bike messenger, as he delivered a package to the Milwaukee Fire Department Administration office in 2003. Dr. Hargarten was a quad major at UW-Madision but was following his passion for biking and racing. “For selfish reasons I enjoyed working part-time at a bike shop, getting paid as a bike courier, and racing but I realized I wasn’t contributing in ways I really wanted to” stated Dr. Hargarten. Soon after this deliver, he applied and was accepted to become a firefighter/paramedic with the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) in 2005.
As a MFD Paramedic student, Dr. Hargarten’s clinical rotations were at local Emergency Departments. He soon noticed that nurses were running the departments. In his effort to become a better paramedic he decided to join his sister-in-law as she went back to school to become a nurse. After weighing the options, they choose UW-Milwaukee to earn a second bachelor’s degree in nursing. Tuition costs and proximity of the state’s largest college of nursing were key factors in the decision, however the personal touch he experienced with our advisors made a lasting impression on him and sealed the deal.
After graduation Dr. Hargarten had trouble finding a nursing position that could accommodate his schedule as a firefighter. In 2012 he decided to go back for his Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at UW-Milwaukee, one of the first in the country to offer the BS to DNP program. He knew to better serve the citizens of Milwaukee, becoming an FNP would be the best fit. He saw firsthand the lack of primary care resulted in 9-1-1 dependency and increased usage of local emergency rooms and he was driven to fix this. In partnership with the Milwaukee Fire Department and UWM College of Nursing, Dr. Hargarten’s DNP capstone project focused on the implementation of an education program for community paramedics. The goal of this program was to address the amount of repeat 9-1-1 callers and assist them in managing their health conditions. The first cohort was taught in 2015, before his successful completion of the DNP program later that year.
The Community Paramedic program had been launched and was a major success for UWM and the Milwaukee Fire Department, so much that the MFD gave the community paramedics their own firehouse. UW-Milwaukee College of Nursing, under the direction of Dr. Kim Litwack continue partnering with fire departments across the state of Wisconsin to train paramedics.
You can still find Dr. Hargarten working as a Fire Lieutenant Paramedic at the Milwaukee Fire Department, teaching with the UWM Community Paramedic program and volunteering in community outreach programs such as the MFD’s Community Wood Fired Mobile Oven, a collaboration between Milwaukee Fire Department and the Medical College of Wisconsin that allows community members to “make their own pizza” while educating Milwaukee families on nutrition.
If you are on the verge of a change, embrace the feeling and make the move. UWM and the Milwaukee community welcome your support.