Paramedic Job description
Paramedics are healthcare professionals that work in the field as part of the emergency services, assigned to either an ambulance or helicopter team. They attend callouts, and provide immediate treatment, often being the first on the scene.
Paramedics have the ability to quickly assess and diagnose casualties, and decide whether hospital admission is necessary. In the case of multiple casualties, paramedics prioritise treatment, based on individual need, and call for back-up if required.
Paramedics possess technical knowledge to be able to use equipment such as ventilators and defibrillators, and medical knowledge to safely administer medication and treatment, and carry out certain surgical procedures. As part of an ambulance team, paramedics either use their training to best stabilise and monitor casualties en-route to hospital, or use advanced driving skills to deliver casualties to hospital safely.
Once casualties have been transported to hospital, paramedics brief hospital staff with case notes of the casualty including injuries sustained and treatment administered, and any other information known about the casualty.
Following a call-out, paramedics complete incident reports, and attend to their vehicle in terms of sterility, and maintaining supplies.
As with all emergency services, liaison and teamwork are required between services, as many incidents often require more than one service to be present at a scene.
Immediate action under pressure
Oral and written communication
Able to provide reassurance to casualties
Be able to cope with distressing scenes
Technical and medical knowledge
Follow and work to guidelines
The main route to becoming a paramedic is through an application to one of the following through UCAS:
1) Foundation Degree (FD) (FdSc)
2) Diploma of higher education (DipHE)
All qualifications should be in Paramedic Science, and approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Many of these courses also include a placement within ambulance services.
Alongside these qualifications, it is also expected that some experience within healthcare is gained.
Once a qualification has been completed, individuals then need to apply for registration with the HCPC to become and the use the title of paramedic. It is also desirable to register with the College of Paramedics.
Student Paramedic Route
It is possible to apply for a place as a student paramedic which can be applied for through an Ambulance Trust direct, although places are competitive.
Application through this route requires the following:
1) 5 GCSE or equivalent
2) 1 A-level
3) Some related experience and 2 years driving experience
As a student paramedic, candidates first need to apply and be accepted through a rigorous interview process which includes elements in numeracy, problems solving, fitness and driving, as well as a formal interview. Once a place has been offered, the pathway is through a study at work process. Although each Trust is different, many pathways include a 1-year work based development programme followed by registration to a partner University to complete a full time academic programme. This whole process usually takes 3 years.
Existing non-paramedic clinical staff.
Certain ambulance trusts offer non-paramedic staff the opportunity for development to become paramedics through partner universities. This is usually for existing staff personnel of partaking Trusts, e.g. technicians.
Advanced driving courses.
All Ambulance Trusts require paramedics to have a full clean driving licence which covers category C1 classification for driving emergency vehicles.
Trusts may provide emergency and advanced driving courses, or these may be required at the time of applying for Paramedic roles.
Paramedics can progress to becoming Senior Paramedics through Continued Professional Development (CPD) Courses. For qualified paramedics with a DipHE, the Diploma can be upgraded to a full Degree through the BSc (Hons) Clinical and Professional Paramedic Practice. If a Degree has already been gained, there are further Level 6 stand-alone CPD modules that can be studied such as, ‘Enhancing Paramedic Practice’ and ‘Clinical Examination’.
Specialist Paramedics typically study at post-graduate level, through the completion of Level 7 Masters qualifications such as the MSc Advanced Practice. Another programme was introduced in 2015 titled ‘Specialist Paramedic – Urgent and Emergency Care Programme’ which requires candidates to have 3 years clinical experience and Level 6 attainment.
Paramedics can also specialise as Critical Care Paramedics, to extend their skills and knowledge in the management of critical illnesses, and can work with an air ambulance team or specialist road ambulance team.
As an alternative, paramedics may choose to progress and develop into managerial roles, or into education/lecturing to teach either on paramedic courses, or to the general public regarding First Aid.
Pros and cons
Respected profession which leads to respected community members
Gain skills in advanced driving
Strong working relationships built in teams
Make a positive impact and make a difference
Working unsociable hours and statutory holidays
Large amounts of paperwork
Salary does not reflect the job role
Likelihood of shifts ending late due to the nature of the role
A requirement to constantly be on the ball
Dealing with stressful, traumatic and emotional situations, with the need to still quick decisions
Responding to a high amount of phoney/time-wasting phone calls
Attending potentially dangerous and unpredictable situations
Paramedics typically earn a starting salary of £24,867 within Band 5, which has a range from £21,909 to £28,462. The higher salaries are typically incremental for more experienced paramedics.
Senior paramedics can expect to earn a Salary within Band 6, which ranges from £26,302 to £35,225
HCPC approved courses – http://www.hcpc-uk.org/education/programmes/register
College of Paramedics – https://www.collegeofparamedics.co.uk
Paramedic Resource Centre –
Journal of Paramedic Practice – http://www.paramedicpractice.com