Sanford, NDSCS introduce EMS apprenticeship to combat shortage

April 26, 2023

FARGO (KFGO/KVRR) — Five students at the North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) will have an opportunity to earn while they learn through an EMS apprenticeship.

The program, which is being looked at as a pilot program, is being funded by Sanford. The partnership with the school has been ongoing for years.

“We dipped our toes in the EMT program here a couple of years ago. We kind of played on that a little bit and now this time we just expanded it to include all the way through paramedic,” Sanford Health EMS Director Ron Lawler said. “We looked at other programs where we’re doing similar things in different parts of the country. If this program runs well, we want to be able to provide other options and make adaptations to provide other areas or opportunities for people to join this kind of program down the line.”

After graduation, the students will keep working as full-time paramedics for three years.

To qualify for the program, students have to be at least 18 years old and enrolled at NDSCS with at least 24 college credits.

Recruiting emergency personnel has been a challenge facing many organizations in the last several years.

“The pool of people that are available keeps getting smaller,” Lawler said. “It gets harder to attract people when they have other options. It just makes it harder to try to make the message stand out with all the noise.”

Lawler said they are looking for people who are good with people.

“We’re looking for people that have customer service experience, people that have good college records, people that have the ability to get through a college program but are ultimately able to interact with people,” Lawler said. “That’s half the job, or better, is interacting with people. You can’t find out what’s wrong with someone unless you talk to people.”

Lawler said they plan to add more applicants next year depending on this year’s success.

The deadline to apply for classes beginning in June is May 12.