How do I become a paramedic in the UK?

June 17, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Paramedics are the first healthcare professionals on the scene in response to emergency medical calls. They attend to all kinds of emergencies, from minor injuries and sudden illnesses to criminal violence, fires and casualties arising from road, rail and other accidents.

To practise as a paramedic in the UK, you must be registered with the HCPC or Health and Care Professions Council. To be eligible for registration with the HCPC you must first complete an approved qualification in paramedic science.

The Health and Care Professions Council has about 50 approved paramedic training courses on its list. These include diploma and BSc degree courses, university courses at foundation degree level and work-based learning.

Pathways to Paramedic Science

There are two pathways to studying and qualifying as a paramedic in the UK:

Pathway 1
The first is by completing a 2 to 4-year university course in paramedic science. These are available at diploma, BSc and foundation degree levels. The entry level to the courses as well as the time taken to complete courses varies widely, depending on level of study you wish to enrol in. Most courses are modular with fairly flexible entry points, depending on your academic qualifications and relevant work experience. After you complete the university course, you can apply to an ambulance service as a qualified paramedic.

Pathway 2
The second route is by applying as a student paramedic within an ambulance trust, where you will work while you study. The entry requirements may vary from one NHS ambulance service to another. Before you apply for student paramedic training, you can check details regarding entry requirements either in the job advert or by asking the trust directly. Student paramedic training can take up to five years of part-time study alongside work. With a very limited number of vacancies being advertised, the competition for these places is very high.

While the exact academic criteria may vary slightly, most courses require at least 5 GCSEs with a minimum grade C, including English, maths and science.

Whether you choose the university route or the ambulance trust route, you will be expected to have a pretty good understating of the work involved in this field. The best way to comply with this criterion is by acquiring relevant work experience in first aid or an emergency healthcare area.

Here are a few ideas you can explore when you are looking for pre-entry work experience:

The recruitment process

The recruitment process often involves multiple stages where you will be assessed against different criteria. Most employers will look for applicants who have a good level of physical fitness, which is a key requirement for the job. In most cases, you will also need to have at least 2 years’ driving experience so that you can driving the van in an emergency.



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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.