Josh Guinane

Current Employer: South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb)

Current Job Title: Paramedic

Current Location: Paddock Wood Make Ready Centre, Kent

“The paramedic course is thoroughly comprehensive with many different aspects of the role covered in detail. The course is also very cohesive, with strong bonds formed between students, respective cohorts, and the teaching staff who work tirelessly to provide excellent tuition and support. All this really helps the University of Plymouth to stand out as a place to study paramedicine.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

Despite training in Plymouth and the surrounding South West, I am originally from the South East. Subsequently, on completion of my degree, I decided to return home to seek employment. Since October 2015 I have been working as a Paramedic with the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb).

Has your career path changed since graduation?

My career path hasn’t really changed since graduation and is unlikely to do so for the foreseeable future. However, I am starting to think about onward career progression within the Ambulance Service. At present, I am interested in gaining my Practice Placement Educator qualification within SECAmb to allow me to mentor students out on the road, whilst also assisting my colleagues with Hospital Liaison and Team Leader duties. I have also recently expressed an interest in a pilot scheme for the ‘Community Paramedic,’ which will offer enhanced examination and assessment skills in addition to a more diverse range of working environments. I hope that these steps will help my ongoing career progression whilst also helping me to make a decision between pursuing a career as a Critical Care Paramedic or a Paramedic Practitioner.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

The paramedic role has a number or difficult aspects: the work can often be tiring and emotional due to the nature of some of the incidents we attend. It can also be particularly hard balancing shift work with other commitments and your social life. This can be especially difficult whilst training at university, as balancing shift work, lectures, assignments, and student life can be tough! Now, as a newly qualified operational Paramedic, I find that whilst the high intensity and workload of the university has ceased, the responsibilities of working full time as the lead clinician on an ambulance are equally tiring!

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Whilst there are some difficult factors to being a Paramedic, there are many aspects that more than makeup for it! The role is always interesting and challenging, with each working day being truly different from the last. This also means that there is always something new to learn or research, to continue to improve your practice. As you can imagine helping patients is also incredibly rewarding; whether that is relieving their pain or just helping them to feel more at ease through reassurance, you really can make a difference in possibly one of the most stressful or frightening times in their life! There is also the added excitement of working in emergency situations and responding to incidents on blue lights: both of which never lose their appeal!

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

During your training, it is easy to start to emulate your mentor’s style of working as you develop in practice. However, I think it is beneficial to work with a range of different clinicians. If I could do anything differently, I feel that it would be to try and work with a greater range of clinicians to get this kind of exposure. I also had the opportunity to work paid bank shifts with South Western Ambulance Service during my training, something of which I did not take full advantage. Had I maximised this as a potential source of income, I could have made my financial position that much easier during my training! Nonetheless, there is little more than I would have done differently.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the same line of work?

For anyone looking to start a career in the Ambulance Service or as a Paramedic, I would recommend that they try and undertake some work experience - directly within the emergency ambulance setting where possible, or in another healthcare setting. This is important to give you a more realistic expectation of what a career in healthcare entails: it is not always as dramatic as that portrayed in Casualty! Therefore it’s also really important to feel comfortable talking to patients and other service users, as a friendly demeanour and reassuring presence can be as effective as even the most advanced medical treatment! Organisation and time-management is also extremely important, particularly during your training, in order to manage the balance between shift work and university requirements. Once you start your career these skills will help you to maximise your free time, often around a demanding shift schedule.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

I think the obvious answer is that the lecturers on the paramedic course were fantastic; without their knowledge, dedication, and expertise I would not have achieved the level of success that I have done since graduation. Such capability has clearly been accrued through successfully running the programme for a number of years, using the experience gained from careers as operational Paramedics and fostering strong partnerships with South Western Ambulance Service and other clinical disciplines, allowing for excellent placement opportunities. On a personal level, the course helped me to develop my confidence and maturity and certainly changed my outlook on life by regularly dealing with sensitive and emotional incidents.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

The paramedic course at the University of Plymouth is equally divided between theory days on campus and practical placements. Obviously, most of your time on placement will be spent at your allocated ambulance station; however, placements in other emergency and urgent care settings, such as A&E departments and Minor Injuries Units, in addition to other clinical specialities such as anaesthetics, maternity, mental health, coronary care, and paediatrics helped me to develop the diverse array of skills necessary to perform in the role of a Paramedic.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

I have many good memories from my time studying at Plymouth! Lectures were always interesting and entertaining and staff, both at the University and across my placements, were always really knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly. I made some fantastic friends whilst training to do a job that I love, in a setting surrounded by beautiful landscapes, incredible history, and amazing beaches! What could be better than that!

Do you stay in touch with other the University of Plymouth alumni or lecturers?

Because of the widespread nature of careers in the ambulance service, many of my course mates now work in different areas of the country. I obviously see my closest friends regularly, but it can be very difficult to stay in regular contact with. However, the lecturers are very keen for paramedic alumni to remain affiliated with the University and eager to see graduates return, to see how they’re getting on in their own careers and for occasional teaching opportunities. I also try to keep in touch with my mentor and colleagues from my old ambulance station and occasionally drop in to see how they are doing.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with the University of Plymouth, and why?

I would definitely recommend studying and training as a Paramedic at the University of Plymouth. The paramedic course is thoroughly comprehensive with many different aspects of the role covered in detail. The course is also very cohesive, with strong bonds formed between students, respective cohorts, and the teaching staff who work tirelessly to provide excellent tuition and support. All this really helps the University of Plymouth to stand out as a place to study Paramedicine, with the programme’s continued accreditation by the Health and Care Professions Council and endorsement by the College of Paramedics, a testament to this fact.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying paramedics please visit our BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science page. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Health Professions, please visit the school page.

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Paramedic students at crisis simulation exercise. Students working with Fire and Ambulance service in mock incident on railway.