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Paramedic Program

The paramedic level is the highest pre-hospital certification obtainable. Paramedics practice the art and science of pre-hospital medicine in conjunction with medical direction. Paramedics are an essential component of the continuum of care and serve as linkages among health resources. The emerging roles and responsibilities of the paramedic include public education, health promotion, participation in injury and illness prevention programs, and functioning as a facilitator of access to care as well as an initial treatment provider. View our paramedic program summary.


  • Daytime Course: A 10-month program beginning September, 2016. Classes are Monday - Friday, 9 AM - 4 PM
  • Evening Course: A 12-month program beginning February, 2017. Classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6-10pm, with occasional Saturdays.
  • Prerequisite: EMT

Paramedic Program Application Process

Applicants must download and complete a printable paramedic course application. Please follow the application instructions below.

  1. Apply for admission and enclose the application fee. Applications can be obtained from the web site, the School of EMS office, or by calling (605) 322-2086. It is recommended that you apply for admission prior to the class selection sessions in early May for the September class, or in December for the February class. Late applications will be considered only if positions in class are available.
  2. Submit the pre-requisite materials. Prior to the class selection session, the applicant should submit the following:
    • A copy of your EMT card
    • A copy of your CPR card
    • Evidence of High School graduation or its equivalent
    • High School transcripts AND any post High School transcripts
  3. Attend a class selection session. Class size is limited. Class selection is determined through an entrance exam and an interview process. Please allow 3-4 hours for:
    • Question and answer session
    • Entrance Exam
    • Pre-admission interview
  4. Maintain records. Applicants should start a file and keep copies of everything sent or received. All applicants will be notified in writing regarding their acceptance status.

Frequently Asked Questions

Find common questions and answers about our paramedic program. If you still have questions, call us at 605-322-2086.

Can I get a job as a paramedic and what is the pay?

The demand for paramedics nationally is good. Many of our graduates are offered employment prior to graduation.

Pay can vary depending on region, size of community, and if the service is owned by a hospital or private ambulance company, or operated by a municipality. A starting paramedic could expect to make $35,000 to $55,000 per year.

How does the paramedic program work?

The paramedic program is an intense learning experience consisting of didactic presentations, a skill practicum, a clinical residency and a field internship.

Paramedic Theory/Practicum: This comprehensive program covers the advanced emergency medical skills necessary to expand the scope of practice of the EMT into the field of paramedicine. This includes the advanced principles of assessment along with the skills and treatment priorities for the management of the critically ill or injured patient. The Avera McKennan School of EMS offers two academic tracts from which to choose:

Daytime Academic Tract: A 10-month program beginning each September. Classes are Monday through Friday, 9AM – 5PM. Clinical and field rotations are assigned on an individual basis.

Evening Academic Tract: A 12-month program beginning each February. Classes are on evenings and weekends. Clinical and field rotations are individually scheduled.

Paramedic Residency: Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center, which is a teaching hospital and a Verified Level II Trauma Center, is utilized to provide a site for the paramedic residency. The skills, knowledge and experience gained through working side-by-side with skilled clinical preceptors and the constant exposure to patient care enhances the ability of the student to provide optimal emergency medical services when operating in the field. To provide a more holistic view of patient care, multiple departments within the hospital are utilized for residency sites including:

  • Emergency Department
  • Pediatric Intensive Care
  • Critical Care Unit
  • Labor & Delivery
  • Behavioral Health
  • Ambulatory Unit
  • ALS Ambulance
  • Surgery/Anesthesia

Paramedic Field Internship: The field internship is specifically for placing students with an advanced life support agency that will best meet their needs. This evaluative phase of the program integrates all of the student’s knowledge and skills into the ability to serve as an entry-level paramedic in the field.

Upon completion of the program, graduates are awarded a certificate of graduation and are eligible to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians Written and Practical Examination.

What are the prerequisites for the paramedic program?

  • Must be 18 years of age to be eligible for the National Registry Exam
  • CPR for the Healthcare Provider Certification
  • EMT, EMT-Intermediate, or AEMT Certification (South Dakota or National Registry)
  • Competence in English and Algebra

What specialty courses are in the paramedic program?

Specialty Courses may be added to the curriculum to enhance professional development:

  • PHTLS (Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support Advanced Provider)
  • CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
  • ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support)
  • PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support)
  • AMLS (Advanced Medical Life Support)

Do I have to have experience as an EMT before I apply for paramedic school?

Avera McKennan accepts students with very diverse backgrounds. Some have just completed the EMT program; some have years of EMT experience. Some students have GEDs; some have Master’s degrees. We feel all students have insights and experiences that are valuable to the other students.

Do I have to be an EMT-Intermediate or AEMT first?

Students do not need to complete the EMT-I course prior to paramedic school.

The information in the EMT-I course and AEMT course will be repeated in the paramedic program, and while some students may benefit from this repetition, the average student may wish to save their tuition for the paramedic program.

Is the Avera McKennan paramedic program accredited?

The Avera McKennan School of EMS became South Dakota's first accredited paramedic program in 2001. It is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) upon the recommendation of the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP).

The paramedic program exceeds the standards of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians and the United States Department of Transportation, and is approved by the South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners.

Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center is a regional health facility accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

Can I get college credit for the paramedic program?

The program is designed to provide the maximum opportunity for students to obtain academic credit. Formal Associate and Baccalaureate Degree Program affiliations have been established and are available to students wishing to apply their EMT and Paramedic education toward an academic degree. Details are available through the Avera McKennan School of EMS.

How do I apply for Avera McKennan’s paramedic program?

Click on the application process tab on this page to view details and begin the application process.

Avera McKennan’s Student Success Averages

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP) requires programs to make the following results available to potential students.

We are proud of graduates and their dedication is evident in the following numbers.

3-Year Average 2012-2014

5-Year Average 2010-2014

CAAHEP Threshold
Pass Rate NREMT Practical 99.13% 99.43% 70%
Pass Rate NREMT Written 90.35% 89.14% 70%
Student Retention 81.25% 79.46% 70%
Positive Placement 93.16% 92.13% 70%

Contact the School of EMS

Have a question or need more information? Call us at 605-322-2086, contact us online or find location and mailing details.

Contact our team

2017 EMS Refresher Conference

January 26 - 28, 2017, 0800-1700

For more information, click here.

To register online, click here.

To print a registration form, click here.

Registration Info

Resources for Students and Visitors

School of EMS Videos

Inside the Avera McKennan School of EMS

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