Gain skills to provide emergency and non-urgent medical care in a range of situations. Develop skills to assess, stabilise, treat and refer patients. Learn through clinical placements in ambulance services, hospitals and other situations. There is a flexible part-time option for working or volunteer paramedics with relevant industry qualifications.

Programme outline

The Bachelor of Health Science (Paramedic) is a three-year full-time programme, run in conjunction with Wellington Free Ambulance (WFA), designed to prepare students for practice as paramedics.

Paramedics provide emergency and urgent medical services to the community through a specialised body of professional knowledge, delivering care in variable environments. Using clinical assessment, advanced medical procedures and treatment, they stabilise patients in clinically challenging environments, refer to primary and secondary care and provide on-going emergency medical care during transportation.

The BHSc (Paramedic) programme is delivered with a combination of theory classes, self-directed learning, simulation on campus, and clinical placements. The programme involves considerable study and serious thought should be given before a student undertakes paid employment that will make it difficult to maintain sufficient study time, or to attend clinical experience. It is suggested that no more than ten hours per week are worked.

A distance version of this programme is offered for working or volunteering paramedics. The Flexible Learning Stream (FLS) of the Bachelor of Health Science (Paramedic) is designed for students with an existing National Certificate or National Diploma in Ambulance Practice (Level 5) or with a practising level of EMT or paramedic

More detail about this qualification

Teaching and Learning

Theory and practice are integrated across the three years including timetabled campus-based sessions (in classrooms and the simulation suite), and clinical block weeks. In year one students attend campus-based sessions usually 9am-4pm, four days a week and regular clinical blocks. In year two and three as students increasingly become independent learners, clinical blocks increase, and campus-based learning is supported by online learning. 


Over the course of the programme, students will complete 1000 hours of clinical learning, where students apply knowledge and skills under the direct supervision of health care personnel. 

Programme Content

In Years One and Two, students will spend approximately half of each semester on campus, and the other half in clinical placements. Timetables are provided to the student at the beginning of each semester. In Year three, courses are delivered online, with some block weeks spent on campus, to enable a greater amount of time in clinical placements. This requires the student to be particularly diligent and focussed in their studies, and to take more responsibility for their own learning and time management.

Year One

Year one introduces students to relevant science and pharmacology, and beginning paramedic practice. Utilising context-based learning students explore the structure and function of the New Zealand Health system, roles and responsibilities of the paramedic; legal and ethical issues, te Tiriti o Waitangi in paramedic practice; and the assessment and treatment of medical and trauma patients to a beginning practitioner level. 

Year Two

Year two consolidates and builds on Year one, with pathophysiology and pharmacology integrated into the clinical context, and more increased focus on paramedic skills. The student will transition from task focussed technical skills to critical thinking in relation to patient care, as well as continuing to develop skills in academic scholarship and research. 

Year Three

The structure of Year three increases the online content and delivery as students are increasingly independent, with block weeks on campus. There is a greater focus on clinical reasoning, teamwork and leadership, along with in-depth exploration of legal, ethical and sociological issues, and further development of research in relation to paramedic practice. The amount of time spent on clinical placements is increased in the third year and is almost exclusively based in an emergency ambulance environment.

Entry requirements 

University entrance or equivalent academic/work experience and evidence of suitability based on an interview, health screening, safety check and referee reports.  Applicants must be 18 years of age by the start date of the programme.

International students

Proven equivalence of entry requirements plus IELTS 6.5 in each band

Find your country's equivalent academic entry requirements here

* International fees shown here do not include insurance and administration (currently approximately $780 per year of study)

Suitability requirements

Applicants will be invited to attend an interview to determine their preparedness for study and ability to meet the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (if applicable). Applicants must be able to demonstrate the following qualities:

1. Effective interpersonal communication skills
2. Understanding of, and capability to, work in the professional health and social services sector
3. Commitment and motivation to succeed 4. Health screening, safety check* and referee reports.

*Safety Check: The Children’s Act (2014) requires all students, who may work with children during the course of their study, to be safety checked. Safety checking includes reference checking, work history, identity check, police vet and an overall assessment of the applicant’s safety to work with children.

Driver licensing

It is recommended that students hold a full driver’s licence before starting the BHSc (Paramedic) programme. A full clean New Zealand Class 1 driver’s licence, held for a minimum of three years (without convictions and free of demerit points within the last two years), is a requirement of both WFA and St John employment.
If students do not hold a full driver’s licence, they must consider the implications of the start and finish times of their clinical placements in relation to the restrictions of their licence.

Course-related costs

Required costs associated with the Bachelor of Health Science are detailed below:

Health screening: $250 must be completed prior to programme start
Uniform: $320 must be ordered prior to programme start
Stethoscope: $150 Vaccinations (if required by Costs will vary depending on vaccination required i.e. clinical placement): flu, whooping cough.
Clinical Practice Guidelines: $50
Stationary: $50
E-Resources and Textbooks: Students will be provided with access to online resources including textbooks, journals and, if required by the programme, the vSIM online simulation package. Any required hardcopy textbooks will be noted on the course related requirements list

How to apply

Applications for the BHSc (Paramedic) should be submitted by Friday, 29 October 2021. However, the select committee will continue to review applications received after this date.

1. Apply online from the Whitireia website.
2. Before you start your online application, you will need to have the following documentation available to upload when requested:

*Give the referee report to someone who is willing to be your referee. Ask them to complete the forms and either return to yourself (so you can upload with your application), or scan and email to within 10 days. Please note applications will not be processed until the referee report has been received.

Mailed to: Enrolments, Whitireia New Zealand DX SX33459, Porirua 5022
Dropped into: Enrolments, Whitireia New Zealand 3 Wi Neera Drive, Porirua

Credit recognition

If you have relevant skills and knowledge through study or experiences in work or other activities, you may be able to receive credit for them when enrolling in a programme of study. This is done through a process called credit recognition. Credit recognition may not exceed two-thirds of your chosen programme. Information (including the Credit Recognition Application form and fees information) is also available here.

Employment concerns

If an applicant has any medical or physical concerns, or any criminal convictions it is recommended that the applicant contacts the Human Resource Department of WFA and/ or St John to discuss any impact this may have on future employment prior to enrolment.

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