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Career profile: Paramedic

paramedic patientGet the lowdown on what the job involves, what qualifications you need and how long it takes to train.

A what?

Paramedics work in the ambulance service. They respond to 999 calls and are the first healthcare staff on the scene of an accident or emergency.

On the job

Paramedics have to deal calmly with a huge variety of accidents and emergencies. Their main job is to treat and stabilise patients before moving them to hospital.

They are trained to deal with a range of emergency situations, from cardiac arrests and car accident victims to more minor injuries. Paramedics are trained to use complex emergency care equipment such as heart defibrillators, oxygen, intravenous drips, spinal and traction splints and the drugs used for medical and traumatic emergencies.

Paramedics are also trained in advanced driving skills and may work within ambulances, air ambulances or on motorcycles.

Course entry requirements

Anyone wishing to work as a paramedic needs to either find a student paramedic position with an ambulance service trust, or attend an approved full-time course in paramedic science at a university.

Entry requirements for student paramedic positions will vary, depending upon the employing NHS ambulance service trust. Visit the NHS Jobs website to search for student paramedic vacancies.

The range of paramedic science courses at university varies in terms of entry requirements - from GCSEs to A-levels or equivalent qualifications - and it's important to check entry requirements with the university concerned and with the ambulance service trust/s in the areas where you want to work

All new entrants must pass entrance exams, a medical exam and a police check. You also need a clean driving licence.

Check out Scottish Ambulance for paramedic careers in Scotland.

What does the training involve?

Some courses are open on a full-time basis to direct entrants applying through UCAS, and part-time if you are already working as a qualified ambulance technician. Courses last from two to five years, depending on whether you study full or part-time.

Courses tend to be modular with flexible entry and exit points, depending upon your academic qualifications and any relevant experience. Training that comprises both theory and practical clinical experience, including several weeks in various hospital departments.

For further information on the funding available, please contact the relevant ambulance trust within your region.

Related links

(Information taken from NHS Careers)