The first group of students on a new paramedic course have started the next step in their careers.
In a bid to help address the national paramedic shortage and to invest in its staff, North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) has worked with the University of Sunderland to develop a new bespoke specialist training programme.
The two year Diploma of Higher Education in Paramedic Practice has been accredited by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and is tailored to meet local needs, with a maximum of three cohorts of up to 20 students per year.
Students are employed by NEAS, allowing them to combine theoretical learning with operational shifts. They will also undertake clinical placements across a range of healthcare environments to help them gain a wider understanding of healthcare in the region.
The first cohorts, which were only open to internal applications, attracted 174 applicants. The next cohort will begin in January 2017 and will again be filled by internal applicants.
Caroline Thurlbeck, Director of Strategy, Transformation and Workforce at NEAS, said: “Training to become a paramedic is intense and challenging but is also one of the most rewarding opportunities available.
“We always knew this new course with the University of Sunderland would be popular but have been overwhelmed by the interest shown so far.
“As well as allowing us to grow our own paramedics through a regular intake, on top of the graduate paramedics we already accept from our successful partnership with Teesside University, this new course also allows us to invest in and develop our workforce by enabling them to progress their careers without the need to leave the Trust.
“In order to develop our staff, it was important for us to ring-fence the first cohorts to our own internal applicants but we also want to ensure we welcome new faces into our Trust and are pleased to say our April 2017 is also open to external applicants.
“We hope this course will continue to grow and look forward to welcoming our home-grown paramedics into NEAS.”
Victoria Duffy, Programme Leader andSenior Lecturer in Clinical Skills in the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing, said:“We’rereally pleased to be delivering this new Paramedic Diploma alongside the NEAS training and education team. The new programme has been developed in response to the changing and dynamic role of the paramedic, together with proposals for development of an all graduate profession.
“The diploma will educate and develop students into effective practitioners able to care for patients in a range of challenging and unpredictable situations. It’s designed to reduce the gap between theory and practice; ensuring students develop the skills required for clinical practice. These enhanced clinical skills will allow them to work with a range of medicines, offering more treatments in communities alongside GPs and other health professionals.”