30 May

How to become a paramedic in Primary Care

How to move from secondary care to Primary Care: A Paramedics perspective

By Jasmine Kaur

We interview Charlotte Humphrey, Paramedic Practitioner, who successfully transitioned from her role in the ambulance service to a role within Primary Care.

 

The role of a Paramedic continues to evolve and develop and simultaneously so do the opportunities and career paths.

Since the introduction of the ARRS funding we have seen a huge transition of secondary care Paramedics move into Primary Care. The career prospects have broadened greatly and the career pathway for paramedics highlights the vast scope and variety the role of a Paramedic can offer and accomplish; thus, they are not just subject to working on the frontline or in the ambulance service, which is where most may associate our Paramedics with.

Why did you want to transition from Secondary Care into Primary Care/how long have you been in Primary Care?

I have been in primary care since September 2022. I was on secondment through London Ambulance Service as a paramedic clinical lecturer at the time of my decision to move into primary care. I had been lecturing for a year and had been missing patient contact and I was struggling to maintain work/life balance with the job being part work from home.

I knew I had appreciated having weekends and evenings free/ having a more normal structure for sleep and routine. I had also been fortunate enough to get a puppy which would not have been possible on the frontline.

Considering Primary Care

I knew I didn’t want to go back on the road, having worked at Band 7 lecturing; I felt it would have been a step back in my career progression. Equally, internally in LAS, I felt there was very little opportunity for progression. The whole prospect of leaving the organisation you are institutionalised to believe is the only “proper” place to be a paramedic, was incredibly daunting. I started looking for jobs online and suddenly had this realisation that there was a whole world outside of the ambulance service.

I honestly had never seen myself in primary care because had always wanted to be a critical care advanced practitioner as I loved the excitement of those high acuity jobs. The year lecturing made me re-evaluate my priorities in life. I knew now that I wanted a regular sleep pattern, weekends off to be with my partner and time to be with family/ friends/ my dog where I wasn’t so exhausted from the shift that I didn’t want to socialise.

I also found I enjoyed the intricacies of primary care whilst teaching the minor health/injuries modules. I liked the analytical aspect that we don’t do on the ambulances regarding diagnosis, treatment and further management.

Generally, we would have to follow guidance and often have little choice other than to take the patient to the hospital as it can be impossible to safety net without the ability to prescribe/follow up/ refer/ do point-of-care investigations like blood tests and urine samples – all of which is available to you in primary care.

The benefit of Primary Care

How has working in Primary Care benefitted you?

It has very much been a learn as you go experience for me. The progression and depth in my knowledge as a clinician has been greatly facilitated by working in close proximity with GPs and other advanced care practitioners.

When you qualify as a paramedic you are working autonomously and have very little input in terms of advancing knowledge or mentorship. Primary care is the opposite of that, you still maintain your autonomous role but you have someone with more advanced knowledge at your disposal at all times so you can constantly learn and up-skill.

Role progression

I have progressed to Team Leader for West London within 9 months of working for Location Medical Service. You actually feel noticed in primary care as you aren’t just a “bum on a seat” like in the huge organisations like front-line ambulance services.

You are rewarded for hard work which is reflected in pay and also in advancement in your role/scope. You are also supported in your development, often with funded masters in advanced practice and prescribing courses to get you to that advanced practitioner level that is now recommended by the First Contact Practitioner Pathway.

Some top tips if you’re interested in moving to Primary Care

What would be your top tips for Paramedics seeking to transition into Primary Care?

Have a read of the First Contact Practitioner Pathway it will give you a better understanding of what your projection for development would look like once in primary care.

You can also use this in your interview to show you have an understanding of what is required of you if you were to get the role- https://www.hee.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Paramedics%20roadmap%20Final%20Aug%202021_0.pdf

  • Apply for jobs! Often it will say on the application “must have primary care experience” or “desirable”. I went in with no primary care experience and still got the job. There’s no harm in trying, there are so many jobs out there cast your net wide and see what happens.
  • I would say that having the teaching experience is what set me aside from other candidates. Demonstrating being an educator to some degree whether that be on OPC or mentoring students is important as it shows you have had to keep up to date with your knowledge and skills.
  • Pick up a module in minor illness, minor injury or advanced assessment at post graduate level. You can apply for modules independent from doing the entire masters which makes it more affordable/ possible with shift work. Having this would set your CV aside from other people applying for the role. It also shows willing to comply with the HEE FCP pathway linked above.
  • Don’t be scared to leave the large organisations of front line ambulance work. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t a cop out to move into “GP land” to get better work life balance and career progression.
  • Don’t believe what people say about primary care being a place to retire. There are plenty of young people in the sector looking to advance their careers in primary care.

What to know before moving to Primary Care

Is there anything you wish you knew before transitioning into Primary Care?

The transition can be hard. More from a standpoint of your own self-worth/ judgement from other frontline workers. I felt like a failure for leaving the ambulance service and not feeling I could cope with the long shifts and lack of routine.

The first 2 months I would look “longingly” at ambulances on blue lights thinking ah I miss that buzz. That feeling is normal and you’ll start to realise after a time, that the joy of being able to do repeat visits for patients, seeing them back to health with your treatment and management plans, being able to uphold their preferences to be treated at home is equally as rewarding as the odd “big job” on the ambulance that we all seek.

With most of what we do on the frontline being primary care, you’ll find that you are no longer resentful to those kinds of calls; because now it’s actually your job to see those patients. It’s not a misuse of your service and you actually have the skills/ Referral tools to be able to treat these patients appropriately!

Are you looking to make the move?

Are you a Paramedic? Are you interested in seeking a new opportunity in Primary Care? If so, please get in touch today! Find out how we can support your search for a Primary Care role.

View some of our roles, here. 

 

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