Paramedics are lifesavers in our society – literally. They are always first on the scene in an emergency situation, and they are responsible for caring for patients in critical situations.
Paramedic apprenticeships are popular and in demand, so take a look at our in-depth guide for details on where to apply, and what to know before you dive in.
Also called ‘Specialist Emergency Practitioner’ in the NHS, a paramedic provides specialist care to patients who have usually faced accidents or emergency situations. Paramedics differ from GPs and other medical practitioners because they are the first responders in ambulances and other emergency vehicles, such as helicopters. You’ll be responding to emergency calls and providing lifesaving care. Other daily tasks could include diagnosing and assessing patients, dressing wounds, using specialist equipment such as defibrillators, and administering pain relief.
Emergency medical technician
Emergency medical technicians support paramedics on what are called ‘double-crewed ambulances’, or you might respond to emergencies on your own. You’ll be driving the ambulance, assisting the paramedics on duty and providing urgent care to patients who have been in accident, emergency or crisis situations.
As a call handler, you’ll take essential details about the patient’s health, condition and location, and you may need to talk them through emergency procedures (e.g. controlling bleeding, CPR, clearing someone’s airways). This is a patient-focused role and you’ll be dealing with the public on a daily basis. Once you’ve collected all the required information, you’ll then pass these details on to an emergency medical dispatcher…
Emergency medical dispatcher
Nope, not the same thing as a call handler. Although the jobs seem similar, most ambulance trusts treat dispatchers and call handlers as completely separate departments. Dispatchers and call handlers both act as the link between the patients who need help and the paramedics who come to their aid, but dispatchers take over after the call handlers have spoken to the public. They consider the information that the call handler has gathered and decide which vehicles and staff to dispatch based on multiple factors, including the seriousness of the situation, available resources, location and more.
Where to find apprenticeships
NWAS offers multiple well-established apprenticeships, including the Level 4 Diploma Associate Ambulance Practitioner apprenticeship and the Level 3 Emergency Services Contact Handler. You can also work with them to earn a BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science Degree apprenticeship over 2 years, or a Level 7 Advanced Clinical Practice Apprenticeship.
Become an Apprentice Emergency Medical Technician with the East of England Ambulance Service, and earn £17,598 during your 12-18 month placement. You’ll undertake classroom-based courses and on-the-road learning while responding to emergency calls.
You could become a Student Paramedic through the West Midlands Ambulance Service’s apprenticeship programme. You can choose from a range of universities for your studies, including the University of Worcester and Staffordshire University, and your placement will take up to 42 months – and end with you achieving a full HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council) registration as a paramedic.
The NHS’s Emergency Medical Technician Apprenticeship runs for 12-18 months. Once you’re qualified, you can work in a full EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) role, or continue further training to become a paramedic.
If you like the sound of becoming a paramedic but you’re not sure if it’s the right job for you, how about flipping the script and training the first responders. St John Ambulance’s Apprentice Trainer is an 18-month programme, where you’ll learn £16,200 while learning how to administer a variety of First Aid and Health & Safety training courses to groups across the UK.
You’ll need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4, including passes in English, Science and Maths, and at least 1 A level (or equivalent). Most paramedic jobs also require you to have a clean UK driving license with at least 1 year on the road. If you haven’t passed your test yet, here’s some motivation to get it done!
Besides that, you will need to be a calm, focused person who functions well in high-pressure situations. Dealing with emergencies and crisis environments every day can get tough, physically and mentally, but don’t worry – you’ll learn to cope with stressful situations on the job.
If you’re not sure whether a career in emergency medical services is right for you, how about dipping your toe in at a much lower level? St John Ambulance runs First Aid courses in schools across the country, so you can learn the basics of patient care and see how you react in ‘fake’ emergency scenarios. If you enjoy the experience, why not volunteer with the St John Ambulance before you undertake your apprenticeship? Not only will this look great on your CV, but it will also help prepare you for the mental, physical and technical requirements of a paramedic role.
Similarly, you could consider choosing the Emergency Medical Technician role before progressing further to becoming a paramedic. As this is a step down from full paramedic qualifications, you can get a taste of the paramedic role before you dedicate more time to it.
Adapt and thrive as a paramedic
This is a high-pressure job with lots of responsibility – and lots of job satisfaction. How many people can say that they saved a life today?
Medical responders are the backbone of our society. With endless training and career advancement opportunities, this is a fast-paced career that will test your mental and physical strength every day – and will be immensely rewarding.
Apply to an apprenticeship now to secure your dream career caring for others.