You really don’t want to run into Adam Hatala during one of his 24-hour shifts.
He’s a consummate professional – caring, well-trained and dedicated to his job, and bursting with an infectious energy and enthusiasm. As a flight paramedic for Air Methods – an emergency air transportation company that facilitates life flights – Adam is the face people see on their very worst days, if they’re conscious enough to see a face at all.
“The ability to give back to the community is very important to me. You haven’t really lived until you’ve given something to someone who can’t give anything to you,” said Hatala, who graduated with degrees from both SUNY Broome and Cornell University.
That’s right – this flight paramedic is an Ivy League Hornet and will one day carry the title doctor. Adam loves to learn new things, and is a firm believer in the importance of grit and the drive for success – all excellent qualities for a person who may someday save your life.
“If I didn’t have Broome for my initial steps, I wouldn’t have gone to Cornell,” he said.
His journey began at SUNY Broome, where he took courses in the Emergency Medical Technology/Paramedic degree program before completing an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences. He didn’t take a semester off, opting for classes during the winter and summer terms in addition to the two main semesters.
A 2012 Union-Endicott graduate, he made the President’s List during his Hornet days, joined the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and was named the New York State Chemistry Student of the Year. With a few friends, he re-ignited the campus Chemistry Club, drawing 35 participants during its first year, and tutored fellow students in the Learning Assistance Department.
After graduating, he went on to Cornell, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Biological Science with a concentration in human nutrition, minoring in education. He explored research, too, and became the first-named author on a paper published in a scholarly journal. The topic: reproductive fitness for male mosquitoes – a subject that impacts healthcare, because the genetically modified male mosquitoes that were engineered to decrease the prevalence of tropical diseases often fail to mate, Hatala explained.
He graduated from Cornell in spring 2017 – and then transferred credits back to SUNY Broome in a process known as reverse transfer. As a result, this semester he will earn his Associate in Applied Science degree in Emergency Medical technology/Paramedic, ending up with two Associate’s degrees and the bachelor’s from Cornell.
He appreciates the small class sizes at SUNY Broome and the availability of his professors. He joked that he kept a cot in the office of Dr. Daniel Brennan, his chemistry professor.
“Anytime I would need help, he would always have his door open. You don’t get that at a big institution,” he said.
At many universities, faculty are primarily focused on research. While that has its benefits, so does SUNY Broome’s approach, which focuses primarily on student instruction and the curriculum, Hatala noted.
“There’s a stigma that community colleges are extensions of high school. That’s the biggest crock I’ve ever heard,” Adam said. “Broome’s academic level is on par with Cornell — the expectations, the assignments, the rigor. And 100 percent of my credits transferred! I got two years out of the way. Why spend $60-grand?”
The future Dr. Hatala
Adam fell in love with medicine at a young age and joined a local ambulance agency to both hone his lifesaving skills and aid his community.
He still volunteers as a paramedic with the Town of Union Ambulance Squad, when he’s not on one of his 24-hour shifts with Air Methods or working part-time for Superior Ambulance in Binghamton. He is also applying to medical school and studying for the Medical College Admission Test in preparation.
He’s not sure exactly what part of medicine will draw him in the end. It’s a huge field and he finds all of the body’s systems to be fascinating, especially the heart, the brain and pediatric care.
A go-getter by nature, he is looking even beyond his medical career – to the distant day when he decides to pursue a new dream. He has always wanted to earn a Ph.D., he mused. And after that: Teaching? Research? The sky’s the limit.
Right now, as he prepares for his medical career, he remains focused on saving lives. Flight paramedics can bear witness to many terrible situations, but can’t let their emotions get to them. In the end, “you have a job to do,” Hatala said.
“I thrive on what I do. My coworkers are the best trained in the entire room,” he said. “Monotony is not my middle name. I need something new every day.”