Paramedics have a highly responsible role, often being the senior ambulance service healthcare professional in a range of emergency and non-emergency situations. You will be one of the first healthcare professionals to arrive at the scene.
Paramedics are usually the senior member of a two-person ambulance crew, with an emergency care assistant or technician to support them.
Or you might work on your own, using a motorbike, emergency response car or a bicycle to reach your patients. You might also work to provide advice over the telephone from a control room or clinical 'hub'.
You will assess the patient's condition and make potentially life-saving decisions about whether the patient can be treated at the scene or transferred to hospital. In non-life-threatening situations, you'll use your professional judgement to make key clinical decisions.
In an emergency, you'll use high-tech equipment such as defibrillators (which restore the heart's rhythm), spinal and traction splints and intravenous drips, as well as administering oxygen and drugs.
You will be trained to drive what is in effect a mobile emergency clinic and to resuscitate and/or stabilise patients using sophisticated techniques, equipment and drugs. For example, you might be called out to someone who has fallen from scaffolding or an elderly person with a suspected stroke.
As well as contact with your patients, you will also deal with their relatives and friends and members of the public, some of whom might be highly distressed or aggressive. You will also often work alongside the police and fire and rescue services.
Based at a local ambulance station, you will work shifts, including evenings and weekends, going out in all weathers at all hours of the night or day. You will work closely with other healthcare teams in the community, such as:
- occupational therapists
- mental health teams
- diabetes specialists
- doctors and nurses in hospital emergency departments
During your career, you may have the opportunity to undertake further higher education to progress to one of the roles for experienced paramedics.
Want to learn more?
- Find out about the entry requirements needed to be a paramedic
- Find out about the paramedic training and development opportunities
- Pay and conditions Expand / Collapse
Most jobs in the NHS are covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scales and paramedics start at band 5 as part of their learning programme, progressing to band 6 after two years. Experienced paramedics are employed at band 6. This pay system covers all staff except doctors, dentists and the most senior managers. You'll work standard hours of around 37.5 a week but these are on a shift pattern. Shifts cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the year. So your work pattern would include, evenings, nights, early starts, weekends and bank holidays.
You need to be prepared to work outdoors in all conditions, where necessary.
- Where the role can lead Expand / Collapse
With experience, you could become a team leader, supervising the work of paramedics and emergency care assistants. With further experience, you could become a manager, responsible for several teams. Teaching or research are other options.
You could choose to join a specialist team such as caring for stroke patients or working on an air ambulance.
You could take extra training and qualifications for one of the roles for experienced paramedics, taking on more responsibility for treatment and decision-making in emergencies.
- Job market and vacancies Expand / Collapse
In January 2018, there were 25,113 paramedics registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.
Most NHS organisations advertise their job and apprenticeship vacancies on NHS Jobs, including those who run NHS services. Some advertise on their own websites. You can find a list of NHS organisations at NHS Choices.
If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the values of the NHS Constitution apply in your everyday work. The same will be true if you are applying for a university course funded by the NHS.
- Further information Expand / Collapse