How to become a community specialist paramedic: Sara's story

Meet Sara and learn more about life as a community specialist paramedic. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

I feel really privileged and lucky to do the job that I do and enjoy every day that I come to work.

  • Sara was inspired to work in the ambulance service whilst volunteering with St John Ambulance as a teenager.

  • She's the first member of her family to go to university, where Sara studied Environmental Science

  • As a community specialist paramedic, Sara responds to 999 calls and also works with patients in the community. She visits frail, elderly patients, frequent callers, homeless people, and people who've been directed to her by other crew members to advise them on what health and social care services are available to them

  • The difference between her role and that of a paramedic is that Sara helps her patients over a longer period of time and can see them get better

Watch Alice's colleagues in action on BBC One's Ambulance.

Community specialist paramedics attend emergencies like regular paramedics, but also work in the community - visiting and supporting the elderly, the frail, frequent callers to emergency services and people who could be better supported by other social services. Before being able to become a specialist paramedic, you will need to be a qualified paramedic and have several years' experience on the road.

What to expect if you want to become a paramedic

  • Paramedic salary: £24,214 to £37,267 per year
  • Paramedic working hours: 36 to 38 hours per week. You work shifts, which could include evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

What qualifications do you need to be a paramedic?

  • Typical entry requirements: You'll need to get a university paramedic qualification that is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Full-time courses usually take three years. You'll usually need two to three A-levels (or equivalent) for a degree. You can also get into this role through a paramedic degree apprenticeship. There are no set entry requirements for this, but it may help if you have four or five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and college qualifications such as A-levels (or equivalent).
    It may help you if you have volunteered as a community first responder with an organisation like St John Ambulance or an NHS ambulance trust. You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator or manager at your local NHS trust for advice about opportunities.
    You can apply directly to this role via your local ambulance service. Each service sets their own entry requirements, though it may help your application if you have GCSEs (or equivalent) grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English, Maths and Science.
    Once you are an experienced paramedic with additional skills and qualifications, you can develop into other roles that allow you to carry out more treatments and take on more responsibility. There are many opportunities for experienced paramedics to develop into more senior roles such as a specialist paramedic like Becky, advanced paramedic or consultant paramedic. See NHS Careers for further information.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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Khadija: first aider
Tanoh: paramedic
Sarah: critical care staff nurse