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– The purpose of this paper is to assess the extent of empathy in paramedic students across seven Australian universities. Design/methodology/approach – A cross‐sectional study was carried out using a paper‐based questionnaire employing a convenience sample of first, second, and third year undergraduate paramedic students. Student empathy levels were measured using a standardised self‐reporting instrument: the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy‐Health Profession Students (JSPE‐HPS). Findings – A total of 783 students participated in the study, of which 57 per cent were females. The overall JSPE‐HPS mean score was 106.74 (SD=14.8). Females had greater mean empathy scores than males 108.69 v 103.58 (p=0.042). First year undergraduate paramedic mean empathy levels were the lowest, 106.29 (SD=15.40) with second year's the highest at 107.17 (SD=14.90). Originality/value – The overall findings provide a framework for educators to begin constructing guidelines focusing on the need to incorporate, promote and instil empathy into paramedic students in order to better prepare them for future out‐of‐hospital healthcare practice.

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