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Paramedic Program Receives Accreditation Status

People's lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care of paramedics and EMT's. So, it's critical these professionals have strong training before working in the field.

The Western Dakota Tech Paramedic Program recently received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, or CAAHEP. The WDT Paramedic Program is one of three paramedic programs in the state to hold the accreditation status.

WDT has been working toward the certification for more than two years, after the National Registry mandated all Paramedic programs be accredited. The process included submission of a self-study, a vigorous review process, and a site visit that included interviews of all staff, administration, advisory committee, instructors, and students.

"The process for accreditation certification is detailed and lengthy," Steve Buchholz, WDT Dean of Accreditation and Advancement, said. "This ensures only schools that follow protocol, meet specific standards, and offer a quality program receive this status."

The mandate for accreditation for paramedic programs aims to provide a more consistent educational experience for students. The goal is to develop a standardized education that ensures students are entering the field with knowledge appropriate to the industry.

"Being accredited allows us the ability to continue to provide advanced education in this pre-hospital career field," Eric Martens, WDT Paramedic Program Director, said.

The Paramedic program at WDT requires students to take 72 classroom and clinical credits over the course of 21 months. Upon successful completion, students are eligible to take the national certification exam that earns them the title of Paramedic.

Martens says the program has been advancing quality through the use of high-end simulation. With vital functions that can be seen and felt, such as pulse, breathing, and bowl sounds, simulators can mimic several medical conditions, including cardiac arrest, seizures, and shortness of breath. Recording capabilities also allow instructors to review simulation events with students on a step-by-step basis.

WDT recently acquired five new high-fidelity simulators. Students now have access to two adults, a child, a baby, and a birthing simulator that can replicate a live birth. The simulators allow paramedic and other students to practice high-stakes clinical skills in a safe environment.

Students who complete the CAAHEP-approved program at WDT have bright job prospects. According to the South Dakota Bureau of Labor Statistics, Paramedics and EMTs can expect a 23% growth rate in career opportunities from 2012 to 2022. That's much faster than average job growth. In 2013, 100% of students completing the WDT Paramedic program were employed six months after graduation, 77% were employed in the field, and the average starting wage was $13.35/hour.

For more about the WDT Paramedic program visit

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