So, you’re sold that Health and Social Care is the path for you. That’s great and all, but where on earth do you start...
- Drive ambulances and support paramedics to provide emergency care
- You'll need to be calm under pressure and able to cope in emergency situations
- You'll usually need to work shifts with evenings, weekends and 365 day a year rotas
- Using advanced driving skills to respond to medical emergencies
- Carrying out basic scene safety checks by assessing the risk to yourself and others
- Contacting the emergency control centre to request extra support
- Transferring patients to and from ambulances
- Using special equipment and manual handling skills
- Helping ambulance paramedics deal with urgent hospital admissions
- Supporting the delivery of first aid and minor emergency treatments
- Monitoring and treating patients until they are transferred to hospital
- Completing handover reports
- Recording all patient information
- Making sure your vehicle is roadworthy, properly kitted out and cleaned after every call
Ambulance services operate 365 days a year, so you'll be working shifts including evenings, weekends and bank holidays. You'll be based at a local ambulance station, or at a large hospital as part of a team.
Your work may involve heavy lifting when transferring patients. You'll wear a uniform, which includes protective clothing like a bright jacket, safety boots and, in some services, a stab-proof vest.
When responding to an emergency, you'll have little warning of the exact circumstances. You'll also work closely with emergency services, relevant authorities and health and social care professionals.
You'll need emotional resilience and physical stamina, communication skills, excellent listening skills and powers of observation, and the ability to remain calm under pressure for this role.
There are no set entry requirements, but you'll need to have good eyesight, have a good level of fitness, have a full UK or EU driving licence, held for at least 12 months and pass enhanced background checks.
You can apply directly for jobs. You'll usually need 3 or 4 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths and a science subject, excellent driving skills and current knowledge of the highway code.
Some ambulance services may also want you to have experience of working in a patient care setting, ideally in the NHS and with a current first aid certificate.
If you passed your driving test after 1996, you may need an extra driving qualification for larger vehicles and for carrying passengers.
You may have an advantage if you've worked or volunteered in a health or social care role. You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice.
First aid work would also be useful, for example with St John Ambulance or the British Red Cross.
You could also get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship as an ambulance support worker.
With experience, you could apply for a trainee technician job or a student paramedic post. You could then take an approved paramedic science degree, leading to registration as a paramedic.
You could also become a team leader or supervisor with responsibility for a team of ECAs, or move into a human resources or training role.