People have many common questions about paramedics. This guide offers some answers but if you still have questions please 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 9-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
- Health Care Clinic
- Respiratory Care
- Pediatric Intensive Care
- Critical Care Unit
- Labor & Delivery
- Behavioral Health
- Ambulatory Unit
- ALS Ambulance
- Health Care Clinic
- Pediatrician Shadow
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
- Co-requisite: Anatomy and Physiology
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)
- PEPP (Pediatric Education for the Pre-hospital Professional)
- NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation Program)
- 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.
What is accreditation and why is it important?
The Avera McKennan School of EMS Educational Program for the Paramedic is nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) as recommended by the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP).
What is Avera McKennan’s pass rate?
For the years 2000 - 2011, 93% of Avera McKennan’s paramedic graduates passed the written portion of the National Registry, and 100% passed the practical portion.
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 Bachelor 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.