Becoming a Paramedic
Working as a paramedic offers a long-term, secure career that demands commitment and focus. Paramedics are usually the first people on the scene of many medical emergencies, and so they need to be able to deal with a variety of medical situations. This means that the training and preparation of a paramedic is highly involved in order that they are able to deal with whatever the situation may be.
The Role of a ParamedicThe medical aspect of a paramedic’s working day starts with the ability to quickly and accurately assess a patient's needs, then administer the relevant treatment until the ambulance arrives at the hospital or until other medical back-up arrives. Paramedics deal with all sorts of medical emergencies from traffic accidents and mental health issues to heart attacks and impending births, so their training is intense and varied.
The role of a paramedic will also involve some element of administration and signposting to other departments, especially with the paramedic usually being the first person to assess the condition of the patient. Consequently, the paramedic needs to have an excellent understanding of the various NHS services on offer, both in terms of emergency services and long-term care, and be able to signpost the patient, the patient’s family or the relevant department as appropriate. Writing accurate reports and keeping detailed patient notes is also a key part of the job of a paramedic.
Entry and Character RequirementsIt is clear from the type of role that the character of a paramedic needs to be calm under pressure, able to deal with difficult situations effectively, and put stressed or anxious patients at their ease. The majority of paramedics have degrees or diplomas, with 15 universities in the UK currently offering degrees in Paramedic Sciences. Another way of becoming a paramedic is to initially train as an ambulance man/woman and then take an internal training course. This option requires a minimum of 5 GCSEs of grades A-C.
Pay and ConditionsParamedics are required to work an average working week of 37.5 hours, but because it is shift based, you could be working on any of the 365 days a year, at any time of a day. Paramedics work in all weathers and all conditions, including major public events, rural areas and deprived inner city areas, so a non-judgemental character is certainly needed. Shift work is common, with schedules arranged in advance.
Paramedics start on the NHS payscale Band 5, which is currently from £19,683 to £25,424, although up to a further 25% pay is available for working unsociable hours. London weighting is also available. Experienced paramedics will go up to Band 6, which is up to £32,000, with some additional pay for unsociable hours and London weighting.