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Paramedic

by Staff Reporter
If you work well under pressure, can think quickly and have an interest in medicine then a career as a Paramedic could be for you.

Career Overview

Paramedics are usually the first healthcare professionals to appear at the scene of an emergency. Their expertise allows them to tend to a range of medical emergencies, from minor wounds and burns to serious injuries caused by a road or rail accident, for example. 

Paramedics provide patients with pre-hospital care. They are responsible for responding to medical emergencies and providing emergency care and treatment to critically ill or injured patients. Their work involves responding to medical emergencies in a range of different environments and transporting patients to the appropriate medical facility.

Required School Subjects

You will need to have taken the following subjects at high school:

  • Pure Mathematics
  • Physical Sciences
  • Life Sciences

Institution and APS

The following institutions are highly recommended for students wanting to study to be a Paramedic:

  • University of Johanesburg (UJ) – APS of 26
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) – APS of 28 – 30
  • Durban University of Technology (DUT) – No specific APS
  • Netcare Education – APS of 24+
  • Nelson Mandela University (NMU) – No specific APS

Required Qualification/s

To practice as a Paramedic at the highest level, you need to have either a Bachelor’s degree or a diploma in Emergency Care. Should you be interested in a less advanced qualification in the same field, you can look into becoming an ambulance emergency assistant or an emergency care technician, for example.  A formal qualification from one of the abovementioned institutions can be obtained – here is a breakdown of the minimum requirements you will need:

University of Johannesburg

  • Diploma in Emergency Medical Care (2 years)
    • English 60%
    • Mathematics 50%
    • Physical Sciences 50%
    • Life Sciences 50%
    • Minimum APS score of 26
  • Bachelor of Emergency Medical Care (4 years)
    • English 60%
    • Mathematics 50%
    • Physical Sciences 50%
    • Life Sciences 50%
    • Minimum APS score of 26

Cape Peninsula University of Technology

  • Diploma in Emergency Care
    • English 40%
    • Mathematics 40%
    • Life Sciences 40%
    • Physical Sciences 40%
    • Minimum APS score of 28
  • Bachelor of Emergency Medical Care
    • English 50%
    • Mathematics 50%
    • Life Sciences 50%
    • Physical Sciences 50%
    • Minimum APS score of 30

Durban University of Technology

  • Bachelor of Health Sciences in Emergency Medical Care
    • English (Home Language) OR English (First Additional) 50%
    • Mathematics 50%
    • Life Sciences AND/OR Physical Sciences 50%

Netcare Education

  • Diploma in Emergency Medical Care (2 years)
    • The requirements for learners with a Senior Certificate (with a University exemption or its equivalent) are as follows:
      • 40% in Higher Grade Biology/Physiology, Physical Science and Mathematics OR
      • 50% in Standard Grade Biology/Physiology, Physical Science and Mathematics
    • The requirements for learners with a National Senior Certificate are as follows:
      • Mathematics 40% OR Mathematical Literacy 70%
      • English 50%
      • Life Sciences 40%
      • Physical Sciences 40%
      • 40% in the additional subject 1 and 2
      • Minimum APS score of 24 (excluding Life Orientation)

Nelson Mandela University

  • Bachelor of Emergency Medical Care
    • Minimum NSC (National Senior Certificate) requirements for degree entry are to be met.
    • Mathematics 50% OR Mathematical Literacy 65%
    • Life Sciences 60%
    • Physical Sciences 50%

Required Skills

You will need to show the following in order to be successful as a Paramedic:

  • Alert thinking and quick problem-solving skills
  • Physical and mental strength
  • The ability to work and stay calm in a high-pressure, fast-paced environment
  • Care towards others, with the ability to comfort and reassure patients

Where you can work

You can specialise in one of the following areas:

  • Government or private ambulance services
  • University or college training environment
  • South African National Defence Force
  • Aeromedical services
  • Event management services
  • The mining industry
  • VIP protection
  • Medical retail
  • Disaster relief
  • Occupational health and safety

Working Hours

Emergency ambulance services usually run for 24 hours a day.  Due to this, Paramedics usually work on shifts, where they perform their duties on an on-call basis. As a result, the working hours can often be unpredictable.

Expected Salary

According to PayScale, the average pay for a Paramedic ranges between R49k – R369k per year, depending on experience.

What to expect

Here are a few things you can expect from a career as a Paramedic:

  • Emergencies can take place in a variety of environments, so a lot of travelling and time in the outdoors.
  • Outside of emergencies, writing reports and dealing with hospital admissions, discharges, and transfers.
  • On-the-spot patient care through life support techniques, surgical procedures, dressing wounds and implementing support for broken bones.
  • Daily checks on the emergency vehicle, ensuring that it is running smoothly and that the medical supplies are accounted for.
  • Quick decision making about whether hospital admission is necessary and if so, working closely with doctors and nurses in hospital accident and emergency departments and briefing them on the patient.

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