Everything you need to know about becoming a Paramedic

Paramedics have a highly responsible role, regularly being the senior ambulance service healthcare professional in a range of emergency and non-emergency situations. Paramedics are often the first healthcare professional on the scene to aid and assist patients when they are in their most vulnerable need of care provision.

Female paramedic smiling at camera

Working in a crew or independently

Operationally within Ambulance Services, paramedics can work as the senior clinician as part of an ambulance crew alongside an emergency care technician or assistant to support care provision.

Equally, Paramedics possess the required skills to work independently and can assess, treat and refer patients whilst responding in rapid response emergency cars, motorbikes and in certain circumstance on bicycles.

Role of a Paramedic

Paramedics assess the patient's condition and make potentially life-saving decisions about whether the patient can be treated at the scene or transferred to the hospital. In non-life-threatening situations, paramedics use their professional judgement to make key clinical decisions on what is best for patients and may refer the patient to alternate healthcare systems or potentially leave the patient at home, providing health promotion and patient-centred advice. Paramedics frequently work alongside other healthcare professional and emergency services to maximise the care provided to patients.

High tech equipment

Paramedics possess a unique skill set enabling them to provide the most according to care, at the right time, in the right place for the patient. To facilitate this, paramedics use high-tech equipment to support the assessment and management of patients and can administer a range of drugs to maximise the care provision afforded to patients.

Salary expectations for a Paramedic

Working within the NHS, a paramedic is based at an Ambulance station and is required to work a multitude of shifts encompassing days, nights and weekends. A paramedic will start their career on the NHS Agenda for Change pay scale at level 5, but once their preceptorship as a Newly Qualified Paramedic is complete, they will enter level 6. The following link gives an appreciation to a Paramedic’s pay:

https://www.nhsemployers.org/pay-pensions-and-reward/agenda-for-change/pay-scales/annual   

Opportunities to specialise

Paramedics also have opportunities to progress within ambulance services to more advanced roles such as a senior paramedic, advanced paramedic and potentially a consultant paramedic. Furthermore, specific roles such as Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) paramedic, Community Specialist Paramedic or even a paramedic who works on a helicopter.

A Paramedic can also work outside of the ambulance service and may operate in a GP Practice, Walk-in Centres or Accident and Emergency. The following diagram shows the potential career framework a Paramedic could pursue

 Paramedic Career Pathways, Diagram showing Paramedic Career Pathways

Interested in being a paramedic?

To be considered as an applicant at University in becoming a paramedic, there are required UCAS tariff points an applicant is required to achieve. The University of Cumbria's UCAS tariff points are 112-128 and must include either a natural science (Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry or Physics) or social science (such as Sociology or Psychology). General Studies is accepted, and a maximum of 16 UCAS tariff points from one AS level subject will be accepted.  GCSE English, Maths and Science at Level 4 (grade C) or equivalent. All applicants would be subject to an interview process to ensure suitability.

Alternatively, being employed by an NHS Ambulance Service and engaging in their apprenticeship schemes is another recognised route to becoming a paramedic. NHS Ambulance Services engage with Universities who facilitate the degree apprenticeship process on behalf of the ambulance service.

Once qualified, a paramedic is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), who act as the Regulatory Body for all Allied Health Professionals. The HCPC enforce the expected standards that paramedics should promote to maximise the care that is provided to patients. Please follow the link to the HCPC website, should you wish to explore their responsibilities https://www.hcpc-uk.org/

The College of Paramedics is the professional body, who represent the professional voice on behalf of paramedics and engage in improving the profession moving forward. Please follow the link to the College of Paramedic website, should you wish to explore their responsibilities https://www.collegeofparamedics.co.uk/ 

Further information regarding the University of Cumbria's undergraduate BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science programme can be found at:

https://www.cumbria.ac.uk/study/courses/undergraduate/paramedic-science/