Becoming a Paramedic: Everything To Know

Working life

When working as a paramedic you can expect something new every day. You will find yourself operating in a wide range of emergency and non-emergency situations. You will have to apply your judgment and skills in assessing the conditions of your patient and making life-changing decisions.

Your training will include learning to resuscitate and stabilize your patient with a wide range of equipment, techniques, and drugs. You will need to use high-tech equipment such as defibrillators and spinal traction splints and administer oxygen and drugs in many emergency situations.

You may find yourself working alongside police officers and fire and rescue services. Along with addressing the needs of your patients, you may also be called to support relatives, friends, and even the general public, many of whom may be highly agitated by the situation.

A paramedic may also partner up with an emergency care technician or assistant to support you in a variety of situations. But you may also find yourself working alone, traveling by bicycle or motorcycle to provide aid, or working from a control room or some other clinical hub.

Paramedics may work closely with healthcare services active in the community. This can include working with GPs, mental health teams, occupational therapists, diabetes specialists as well as doctors and nurses in emergency departments of a local hospital.

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From your base at a local ambulance station, you will be working in shifts during all times of the day or night and on weekends. You must also be prepared to operate in various types of weather conditions.

Entry requirements

To practice as a paramedic, the first requirement is to complete an approved course in paramedic science or obtain an apprenticeship degree. After this, you will have to apply for a position as a qualified paramedic in an ambulance service. You will also need to register with the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council).

The full range of paramedical science courses will take about three to four years to complete and will include a variety of practical and theoretical work, including work with the ambulance services.

Entry requirements for undergraduate courses:

Two or three A levels including a science five GCSEs (grades 9-4/A-C) — including maths, science, and English language or equivalent qualifications: 

  •  BTEC, HNC, or HND including science 
  • Relevant NVQ 
  • An access course based in science or health
  • Equivalent Irish or Scottish qualifications. 

It should also be noted that each university has its own entry requirements. Therefore, it would be a good idea to check with the university directly.

If you plan to apply to be a paramedic, you will be asked to explain how you see that NHS Constitution Values apply to your everyday work. This is also true if you will be applying for the NHS degree.

New annual payments

You can expect £5,000 in annual educational support from the NHS Learning Support Fund. This financial aid does not have to be paid back.

Degree apprenticeship/student paramedic

Many ambulance trusts will allow you to work as you study and they have their own entry requirements. Typically, these ambulance trusts will require:

  • at least five GCSEs, grade 4/C or above — including English language, maths, and science
  • Or, equivalent academic qualifications with an outstanding level of health or science content.

Employers will also be looking for candidates with a good level of health and a minimum of 2 years of experience in driving. There is usually a set of stages of fitness assessments, interviews, tests, and driving tasks. The government and your employer will cover fees/ while apprenticeships are not eligible for student grants, you will be collecting a paycheck. Once completing a degree you will be able to join a private ambulance service.

Driving license

A student paramedic applying for ambulance trust service will need to have a full, manual license. If you passed your driver’s test after 1996, you may also be asked to complete extra driving qualifications to operate larger vehicles and transport passengers. Different ambulance services have vehicles of all different sizes so you will need to check which classifications you have on your license and make sure they are suitable for each individual situation.