WHAT IS A PARAMEDIC

‘A paramedic works autonomously as a generalist clinician across a range of healthcare settings, usually in emergency, primary or urgent care. They may also specialise in clinical practice, education, leadership or research.’ The College of Paramedics (2019)'

Paramedics are registered healthcare professionals who have a unique role that crosses healthcare, public health, social care and public safety, they work autonomously providing care in a range of situations. Most well-known for working within Ambulance Services providing immediate and emergency care in response to 999 calls made by the public, paramedics now also work in other areas of healthcare, for example GP practices, hospital emergency departments and police custody suites.    

Paramedics are one of 14 Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), to learn more about AHPs and to take a behind the scenes look at the wide variety of careers available as an AHP, watch this 20 minute ‘The Wow Show’ film here. 

AMBULANCE SERVICE PARAMEDIC

Anyone who’s watched a TV hospital drama will have an idea about what a paramedic does. And while it’s not all sirens, blue flashing lights and high-speed driving, it’s still an exciting career choice! Paramedics are the senior clinician on an Ambulance or sometimes work alone in an Ambulance Service rapid response car. Based at a local ambulance station or central ambulance hub, ambulance paramedics work shifts, including throughout the night and weekends, working in any weather and at all hours of the night or day, 365 days a year. Paramedics have advanced driving skills that allow them to claim exemptions from certain road traffic legislation whilst driving to the location of a 999 call made by the public. 
 
Paramedics are educated and trained to make decisions in complex and high-pressure situations in unfamiliar and often unpredictable environments. Paramedics are skilled at history taking, consultation skills and examination, judgement in diagnosis and management of a wide range of illness and injury from new-borns and babies to the elderly and those at the end of their life. Paramedics have expertise in dealing with critically ill and injured patients using complex equipment and a range of medications whilst getting the patient to the right hospital for their ongoing treatment. Paramedics also work closely with other healthcare teams, such as: GPs, Nurses, Mental Health Crisis Teams and Pharmacists to manage patients in the community or closer to their home. 
As well as contact with the patient and other healthcare colleagues, paramedics also deal with a patient’s relatives and friends and members of the public, some of whom might be highly distressed or upset. The ambulance paramedic often works alongside colleagues from the police, fire and rescue services and the coastguard. 

Watch here for Tanoh's story about what its like to be a paramedic.




NOT ALL PARAMEDICS WEAR GREEN

In recent years the paramedic profession has evolved from being a provider of emergency treatment and transportation in an ambulance to a provider of mobile healthcare. As a result of this evolution, paramedics can now be found working in multiple settings including general practice, minor injury units, urgent care centres, walk-in centres and accident and emergency (A&E) departments, telehealth and telecare services and in remote and offshore sectors. Paramedics in some of these settings often undertake advanced clinical assessments and take the responsibility for the ongoing care provided to patients, in addition to onward referral and discharge. 

 

HOW TO BECOME A PARAMEDIC 

To practice as, and call yourself a paramedic, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). To register with the HCPC, you first need to successfully complete an approved qualification in paramedic science. 

There are different routes to studying and qualifying as a paramedic. You can:

  • take a full-time approved qualification in paramedic science (e.g. at a university) and then apply to an ambulance service for a job as a qualified paramedic
  • apply for a role as a student paramedic with an ambulance service and study while you work
  • apply for a degree standard apprenticeship in paramedic science with an ambulance service 

Becoming a paramedic takes between two and four years. The course includes a mixture of theory and practical work including placements with ambulance services and other healthcare settings. Each University or Ambulance Service sets its own entry requirements, so it’s important to check carefully what you will need. A full list of current approved Universities offering programmes that lead to a paramedic qualification and registration can be found on the HCPC website.   

 

NHS HEALTH CAREERS WEBSITE 

Further information about being a paramedic can be found here…








ROUTES INTO ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONS CAREERS WITH THE UNIVERSE OF OPPORTUNITIES

Reach for the stars with lots of information about a range of healthcare careers. This resource provides stepping stones for everyone considering an AHP career no matter what the starting point is. It provides information for people exploring AHP careers or those supporting them. More...



 

ENDORSED COURSES

Institutes delivering pre-registration paramedic programmes may apply for College of Paramedics endorsement. 

Read More

 

EMPLOYERS

In recent years, the roles and areas in which paramedics work have become increasingly diverse. 

Read More

 

HCPC

Paramedics are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Read More

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

Being a paramedic is a highly rewarding job. The traditional role of working in an ambulance service as a paramedic can at times, be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, and the long shift patterns interfering with family relationships and interrupting social commitments can be difficult to manage. But job satisfaction is considered to be high, paramedics deliver and support life, deal with death and everything in between. Paramedics employed in the out-of-hospital setting deal with people at some of the most vulnerable times of their lives and with this comes the ability to make a difference, to do something that matters, to help someone in their time of greatest need. The paramedic role is evolving, constantly emerging and becoming increasingly effective and valuable in a range of healthcare settings. The College of Paramedics Digital Paramedic Career Framework highlights case studies and the many diverse roles that paramedics now work in, including commissioning, public health, primary, urgent and emergency care, and a range of hospital settings.
Except for Scotland, newly qualified paramedics start employment in NHS Ambulance Services on Agenda for Change (AfC) pay band 5. In 2018, healthcare staff voted to accept the proposed changes to the AfC system for the next three financial years. As of 2018/19 band 5 will start at £23,023 plus an additional unsocial hours payment in most situations. In 2019/20 band 5 will start at £24,214 plus an additional unsocial hours payment in most situations, and, in 2020/21 band 5 will start at £26,970 plus an additional unsocial hours payment in most situations. However, graduate paramedics are increasingly being employed outside of NHS Ambulance Services where starting salaries will be different.
The role of a paramedic is diverse, there is something for everyone. Working for an NHS ambulance service and responding to 999 calls or venturing into critical care with an air ambulance role. Perhaps managing your own caseload by working for a GP practice, or working in a walk-in centre or emergency department. There are opportunities in leadership and management, research and development, and education and many other organisations not specifically linked to healthcare too. Being a paramedic means being a part of a valued, exciting and evolving profession and the College of Paramedics is committed to seeing paramedics achieve their full potential for the benefit of patients across the UK. 
Paramedic Science degrees cover a broad curriculum including cognitive, theoretical and practical learning, including the acquisition of skills such as team working, problem-solving, reflective practice, the use of information and communications technology, applying research, evidence based and values-based practice and critical reasoning. The scope of practice for paramedics is; an autonomous practitioner who has the knowledge, skills and clinical expertise to assess, treat, diagnose, supply and administer medicines, manage, discharge and refer patients in a range of urgent, emergency, critical or out-of-hospital settings. Following the HCPC decision in 2018 to change SET 1 on the threshold level for paramedic entry to the Register to, ‘Bachelor degree with honours for: … paramedics’, the paramedic profession will soon become an all-graduate profession (Sept 2021) to ensure the profession is educated and equipped to fulfil its full potential within the healthcare system. As the paramedic profession matures, graduates are instrumental in the on-going development of a specific knowledge base in the care of patients in the pre and out-of-hospital arena and the further development of the profession to meet future challenges of healthcare delivery. 

How should I prepare?

The start point is your research. What type of interview are you facing?

  • One-to-one - Face-to-face encounter with one interviewer, after the University decides that you've got what it's looking for. They're usually declared as formal, with a hint of informality, (but, don’t drop your guard).
     
  • Panel - Similar to one-to-one interviews, except two or more people - often from different parts of the organisation (and maybe the practice provider) - will be assessing you at the same time.
     
  • Group - Multiple candidates are interviewed together. They are asked questions in turn, or, discuss certain topics. Usually with more than one assessor.
     
  • Assessment centres - These involve tasks including presentations, written tests, and group, role-play and in-tray exercises. They're used to assess a candidate's performance in a range of situations, and, last a full day. You'll appear alongside several other candidates.

Before the interview

Interviews require research and planning. Generally, you should do the following when preparing for interview:

  • Anticipate potential questions and prepare answers accordingly;
  • Contact your references, alerting them that you'll be interviewing and that they may receive a call;
  • Fully understand the role that you're applying for by revisiting the role of a paramedic, identifying what skills, interests and experiences the higher education provider and partner organisation are looking for;
  • Prepare questions to ask the interviewer/s;
  • Read the University and partner ambulance service organisation website, social media profiles and key literature (e.g. business plan, student feedback responses, financial reports and corporate social responsibility strategy), ensuring that you're prepared to share your views and ideas;
  • Research the news, trends, competitors, history and opportunities of the paramedic, NHS, healthcare and NHS ambulance services environment. What is common, what is trending;
  • Review your UCAS application form and be familiar with what you wrote when you applied.

Choose your outfit the night before, get plenty of sleep and avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Plan your journey, aiming to arrive at least ten minutes early. Completing a 'dry run', if possible, also combats nerves. On the day, eat a good, healthy breakfast and avoid too much caffeine.

 

What to take

Your interview invitation should detail everything that you need, but generally you should take:

  • a bottle of water;
  • access to the correct time, on your wrist or on your mobile phone;
  • pre-sent instructions from the University, ie where you can park, where to meet;
  • an A-Z street map, or at least the postcode of the University so that you can search Google Maps on your mobile phone;
  • details of the person that you must ask for upon arrival;
  • exam certificates, examples of your work, and any further evidence of your past successes. They might not ask for them but it's good to show you thoroughly prepare for this opportunity;
  • money;
  • pen and notepad;
  • photo ID (e.g. passport or driving licence);
  • your UCAS statement (copy).

Literacy and Numeracy Assessment 

A defined assessment may be used to test your literacy and numeracy skills. The aim of the numeracy test is to look at your ability to manipulate numbers as applied to volume, weight, and length. Calculations relating to addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios, rounding, interpreting graphs and charts and using formula will be tested. The function of the literacy test is primarily to assess comprehension and written communication.

How to make a good impression

Generally, you should:

  • answer questions clearly and concisely; It’s a fine balance of not waffling and leaving the interview panel wanting more. If they start to ask follow up questions, it may be that your first answer was not full enough;
  • ask relevant, thought-provoking questions at appropriate moments, as this can show that you're genuinely interested in the role and really listening to the interviewer;
  • avoid talking about any personal problems;
  • be as enthusiastic as possible;
  • be well-mannered with any staff that you meet before the interview;
  • display positive body language, speaking clearly, smiling frequently and retaining eye contact; Do not be flirtatious, either in speech or in body language;
  • don't bad mouth any previous university interview processes;
  • highlight your best attributes, experiences and achievements, based around the skills that you've identified as important to the paramedic role, and evidence them with practical examples;
  • let your personality shine;
  • relax and sit naturally, but without slouching in your chair or leaning on the desk;
  • wear smart business attire with comfortable, polished shoes;

Tips for controlling your nerves

Nerves can make you forget to do things as simple as listening. This can result in you being thought of as unfriendly or inattentive. Some ideas for combating nerves include:

  • being aware of the interview's structure, and the fact that they often begin with easier questions such as “Tell us why you want to be a Paramedic?”;
  • arrive early for the interview and perhaps have a walk around the campus to settle yourself;
  • pausing before answering a difficult question to give yourself thinking time, or asking for clarification if, at first, you're unsure what the question means;
  • taking deep breaths and not speaking too quickly.
This varies significantly from one University to another. Some answer within a few days, especially for unconditional offers (usually) where you have existing exam grades from prior study. They may make a conditional offer which mainly relates to the outcome of results, or a vocational requirement. However, it is also common for the University admission team to go to offers when all applicants have been interviewed, whilst others respond after each interview day. It is one of the clear frustrations all students go through and is a very common question on social media speciality sites. However, just because one person has heard something, and you have not, does not infer anything. Wait patiently and check your UCAS account once a day for updates.

Your School, or College careers and employability service is likely to provide practice job interview sessions. Alternatively, you could:

  • ask for advice and feedback after unsuccessful interviews;
  • practice and monitor your skills by treating interview-like scenarios such as discussions with your tutor as genuine interviews;
  • record yourself in a mock interview, playing it back to check how you did;
  • review the different types of possible questions, writing down your responses, taking notes and creating flash cards for revision;
  • script and practice answers to anticipated questions with someone that you trust;
  • Explore more about planning your answers to common interview questions.

What is an assessment centre?

Selection centres assess your suitability for the job through various tasks and activities, allowing employers to test skills that aren't necessarily accessible in a traditional interview. They’re hosted over a full day, and you'll usually be joined by six to eight other candidates.

Assessors - usually a mix of academics and ambulance managers - score your actions against competency frameworks. They discuss all aspects of your performance before reaching a final decision on whether or not to hire you. All, several, one or none of the candidates could be successful.

Potential assessment centre exercises include:

  • case study exercises;
  • group discussions;
  • ice-breaker exercises;
  • Interviews;
  • in-tray exercises;
  • presentations;
  • psychometric tests;
  • role play.

How will I be assessed?

Employers don't just assess you against job competencies; they also aim to ensure that you're the right fit. Being scrutinized for such a long time can be challenging, but recruitment assessment centres allow you to compensate for poor performance in one task by excelling in another. Key skills that employers usually look for include:

  • Accountability
  • Adaptability
  • Analytical thinking
  • Commercial awareness
  • ;Communication
  • Creativity
  • Decision-making
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Leadership
  • Negotiation
  • Objectivity
  • Openness
  • Organization
  • Persuasion
  • Planning
  • Selflessness
  • Study skills
  • Teamwork
  • Time management

How do I perform well at an assessment centre?

It's important that you:

  • are assertive during all exercises;
  • don't dwell on any mistakes, instead concentrating on performing well in the next task;
  • don't worry about the other candidates, instead focusing on putting your key skills forward;
  • draw others into group discussions;
  • ensure that the assessors can see your working methodology;
  • ensure that you understand the requirements of each task by quickly digesting the brief - revisit this once you understand the overall challenge;
  • join in with discussions, even at 'informal' mealtimes - ask other candidates about other universities they have applied to if you're struggling for conversation;
  • maintain a friendly and polite manner with everyone you meet, and remember that you're always being assessed;
  • relax and let your personality shine, as assessors warm to individuality.

What sort of questions will they ask me?

It is not possible or fair for The College to infer or guess possible questions. If you have completed good research and practiced a batch of “typical” questions you wont go far wrong.
Example questions may include:

Leadership 

  • Why are you a good leader?
  • What type of leadership style do you adopt?
  • How would those you have lead describe you? 

Conflict and Pressure 

  • Give an example of an instance when you have had a disagreement with someone at work? What was the outcome? What did you learn about that experience? 
  • How do you react if your manager asks you to do something which conflicts with your own deadlines? 

Teamwork 

  • Give an example of a time where you helped a team to achieve an objective or a deadline? 

Motivation and Development 

  • What have you done to develop yourself both personally and professionally in the last three years?
  • How do you motivate your team and colleagues? 

Decision Making 

  • What is the most difficult decision you have had to make in your current role? Tell me about it. What alternatives did you consider? 
  • What has been the effect of your decisions on others and what was the wider impact? 
You will need to check each and every favoured university programme, as this can change between programmes and must not be assumed. For individuals that do not have the appropriate academic credits several institutions accept various access qualifications, including undertaking appropriate access qualifications (Check individual University entry criteria). A full list of current approved programmes leading to eligibility for Paramedic registration can be found at the regulatory body for paramedics, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC): www.hcpc-uk.org/education/programmes/register/
Due to the diversity of the paramedic curriculum there are significant numbers of books related to paramedic science, however, the College does not specifically encourage you to buy one ahead of another, as most academic programmes have a favoured text and will send successful candidates a reading list.
Some Universities require individuals to complete a fitness test. (Check individual University entry criteria).

Colour blindness
Yes, however a few ambulance services restrict areas of work such as not going airside on an international airport.

Dyscalculia
Yes, the university teams can help assess this and assistance can and should be drawn upon.

Dyslexia
Yes, the university teams can help, and assistance can and should be drawn upon. Challenges of getting the Patient Clinical records completed in a timely manner is often the biggest issue and it is not uncommon for student paramedics to meet this challenge in practice and resolve it with help and support of qualified practice educators.

Epilepsy
Yes, technically as you are not expected to be able to drive to become registered with the HCPC as a paramedic.  Some university direct entry paramedic programmes will expect a full manual B class driving licence. (Check individual University entry criteria).  If an individual has an 'untoward episode' it is very likely that the B class driving licence is removed for 12 months and the C1 class element can and is often removed for 5 years, this makes it very difficult to gain employment in most NHS Ambulance Services, however, it may be possible to complete placements as attendant only in a supernumerary capacity and gain employment in a non-driving paramedic role.

For further advice on medical conditions and driving please see the Assessing fitness to drive: a guide for medical professionals.

For further information on National Education standards https://www.ukstandards.org.uk/EN

The NHS Bursary system in England ceased on the 1st September 2016. All allied health and non-medical professionals now apply to Student Finance England for funding. (see links below). NHS Wales offers a bursary scheme for certain professions, however, if you chose to access funding via the Scheme, you are required to commit to working within Wales in Suitable Employment for the Required Period.

 

Applying for Higher Education University funding - UK nations:

Apply to Student Finance England: www.gov.uk/student-finance

Apply to Student Finance Northern Ireland: www.studentfinanceni.co.uk/

Apply to Student Awards Agency Scotland: http://saas.gov.uk/

Apply to Student Finance Wales: www.studentfinancewales.co.uk/

 

A clean driving licence with the C1 category is highly desirable but not essential. Some organisations offer support for newly registered paramedics to achieve this. Other specific training is dependent upon where the paramedic is employed. Statutory and mandatory training in NHS organisations includes topics such as; Equality, diversity and human rights; Moving and Handling; Safeguarding; Infection prevention and control and Information governance. In NHS organisations training usually consists of corporate and clinical induction programmes to ensure the paramedic understands fully the organisation’s policies and procedures.

C1 Licence
The C1 driving licence allows people to drive vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes. Drivers who pass the 7.5 tonne C1 test become entitled to drive C1 rigid vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes with a trailer up to 750kg.

The C1 licence is not mandatory for paramedics but certainly is very useful for any student looking to become a Paramedic and work in an NHS or private ambulance service.  A few universities stipulate the student must either hold a provisional or a full C1 licence prior to commencing the first year of studies. (Check individual University entry criteria). 

Drivers who passed their category B (car licence) test before 1st January 1997 will have benefitted from acquired rights (also referred to as grandfathering rights). This means that these groups of drivers already have the C1 entitlement on their driving licence, and, will not need to take any additional tests.

How do I get a C1 provisional licence
People who took their driving test after January 1997 will not have been granted the C1 licence, and, will therefore have to take a separate theory and practical test to get the C1 licence.
In order to attend a C1 driving course, you must:

  • be at least 18 years of age and have a manual car (Cat B) licence.  If you have an EU licence you will need to complete a Form D9 and obtain a UK licence with C1 provisional entitlement before attending your course.
  • be able to read a new style number plate from a distance of 20 metres (the use of glasses is allowed). 

Assuming you already have a category B driving licence, your first step is to attend and pass an LGV medical test. You should arrange for your local GP to conduct this medical, and they will confirm what fee is applicable.  You will need to take a D4 medical form with you, (which can be downloaded here) to your medical, and the Doctor will complete the form accordingly.  Your local GP is a good place to start but many private practices will offer a drivers medical for a much smaller fee, shop around for the best price.

Once you have passed your LGV medical examination, you must then make an application to the DVLA for your category C1 provisional licence.  In order to make this application, you will need to complete a D2 Application Form, which can be obtained from your local post office, or can be ordered online from the DVLA.  There is NO FEE to pay and 10-15 working days later you should receive your new licence.

The final step you must complete before attending a C1 training course is to sit and pass your LGV theory test, which can be booked online at the DVSA's website, or by calling the DVSA booking line on 0300 200 1122.

The assessment requires you to pass both the LGV Multiple Choice (Module 1a) and LGV Hazard Perception (Module 1b) theory tests.   You will have to answer 100 multiple-choice questions and get 85 correct answers, and 19 video clips for your hazard perception tests scoring 67 out of 100 maximum.

The C1 Driving Test
The C1 driving test should be taken in the same vehicle in which you do your training (check when booking). The test starts off with the examiner asking you some vehicle safety questions (show me, tell me questions) and is usually followed by the reversing exercise.  You then proceed to spend the next 50 minutes - 1 hour driving on the public road, on the test routes you would have practiced during your training. During this time on the road the LGV examiner will assess your ability to interact with other road users in exactly the same format as your category B 
driving test. There are no manoeuvres whilst out on the road. Once you have successfully passed your LGV Category C1 practical test, you will then obtain Category C1 on your driving licence, which will entitle you to drive any rigid vehicle up to 7.5 tonnes. Driving without the correct licence category can lead to up to 9 penalty points due to DRIVING WITHOUT A LICENCE entitlement and NO INSURANCE.

Do I need to have it to become a paramedic?
Technically no, however it is very difficult to succeed in a career as a paramedic without being able to drive. The HCPC who define the requirements for the Standards of Education and Training (SETs) and the Standards of 
Proficiency – paramedics (SOPs), do NOT insist a student has any driving ability to join or stay on or to register on an approved programme. However, NHS Ambulance services and many private ambulance services make it a con-dition of employment.
The fact is, some programmes do make it a compulsory element of the selection process, which is allowed as long as they declare that to you when you’re choosing a course and making the decision based on your qualifications, skills and attributes. 

Do you recommend a C1 driver provider?
The College does not specifically recommend one programme of C1 driving instruction over another, however it is advised to ask fellow student applicants past experience. The College does recommend that you check that the driving lessons and test can be held in the same vehicle and that it is a 4+ tonne panel van (ambulance style). If you are inexperienced in larger vehicles, do buy the extra time behind the wheel, on the training. We also recommend you check the DVLA website for approved C1 providers.

Should I do the C1 Full course / training before or after university?
This is an individual choice based on available funds and time to complete the course.  Some students are only 18 years old a week or two before the cut-off-date at their chosen university, so gaining the provisional is sufficient in the time available. Others prefer to get it sorted prior to university so it is one less thing to be concerned about, whilst others prefer to check out the paramedic programme before committing a large sum of money to C1 and then find they don’t like the course. 

Will they test my eye-sight?
This is a part of the medical and will not be checked at the practical driving test.  You must be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20 meters (the use of prescription glasses is allowed).

What if I have points on my licence?
This can be an issue for new drivers who really don’t want to get to six points in the first two years and have to re-take the test, or for some universities who insist on only three points or even a clear licence. It is not a particularly challenging market to get a job as a paramedic at the time of writing, but a prospective student could be asked to re-apply when the points on the licence are cleared.  The best advice is to drive correctly and avoid points, it also adds to your insurance cost.

There are no clear fast track courses to use your existing knowledge and experience, (not dissimilar to the nursing profession), most universities that deliver paramedic programmes offer Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), con-tact the relevant university to ascertain what accreditation they may offer.
There are no clear fast track courses to use your existing knowledge and experience. Even if you have some experience in the medical field you will still be expected to undertake all aspects of practice to show competence.
Excellent skills in areas such as communication, problem-solving and critical thinking are essential. An ability to work autonomously and function under pressure whilst maintaining the patient’s needs and perspective at the forefront of any decision-making is vital. Employers also look attributes such as integrity, honesty and empathy.