Current Employer: South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWAST)
Current Job Title: Paramedic Mentor
Current Location: Bristol
“As well as providing me with a degree that allows me to walk straight into a well-paid graduate job, studying at Plymouth has been the best thing to ever happen to me.”
Tell us about your career path since graduation.
I started my employment with SWAST at the beginning of September with a three week response driving course, followed by an induction week, and then on the road as a paramedic the week following my graduation. I could have started my employment sooner, but decided to travel for the summer instead.
How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?
My career path was entirely influenced by my degree as it was a vocational subject in which I trained for a specific job. I had already made the decision regarding my career before beginning my degree.
What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?
As a student paramedic, I experienced a multitude of difficult situations – such as being involved in the resuscitation of children and telling families that their loved one had died – and there are times when there is nothing we can do. As well as this, other aspects of my study were difficult – such as long commutes either side of a 12, 13, or 14 hour shift when you’re very tired and drained.
What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?
Earlier this year, I competed in a simulation competition with two student paramedic colleagues in the first of its kind in the country. Student Paramedic International Rally of Emergency Simulations (SPIRES) was an international simulation competition in which teams of student paramedics competed against each other in a series of simulated emergencies that were judged by panels of experts. This competition was so motivating and gave us all confidence in our practice, especially when our team from University of Plymouth won the competition.
Imagine you were about to start university again – with the benefit of hindsight – what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?
I lived in halls of residence for my first year, as most students do when first starting university. I did struggle with shift work whilst living in halls as it was a very social place. However, I would not change my university experience for the world. I knew what career I wanted and pursued the most suitable degree possible. I would also say that when I applied to Plymouth, I had no intention of going as it was so far away from home. But once I was accepted and visited for an Offer Holder Day I was sold, and I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I now have a great degree, amazing career prospects, great friends, a wonderful boyfriend, and excellent life experience as a result of going to University of Plymouth (and living in halls).
If you were just about to graduate again, what would you do differently?
I have, occasionally, struggled with anxiety whilst studying for my degree. Sometimes it can feel that academic work and commitments can get on top of you, especially as you near graduation. With hindsight I would, now, take stock and simply tell myself to look back at how far I have come and remind myself that I have achieved so many things.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?
Know what you are getting yourself in for: be prepared for the fact that you will be tired and that you will have to learn to compromise, but also remember to enjoy it and not to be a grumpy paramedic.
How did studying at Plymouth help you?
As well as providing me with a degree that allows me to walk straight into a well-paid graduate job, studying at Plymouth has been the best thing to ever happen to me. I have been well-respected by lecturing staff since the beginning, treated like an adult since day one. Plymouth also provided me with grants and support funds without which I would not have been able to complete my degree due to the financial implications of the course as well as coming from a low-income family.
What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?
I have always been mature; however, my course pushed this characteristic to its limits due to the nature of the job. I have also gained a sense of responsibility, organisation, and integrity from the course as well.
Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?
My course was near enough 50 per cent placement and 50 per cent theory. I undertook placements in hospitals, in the community, and of course on ambulances. Ambulance placements provided me with the experience necessary to train as a paramedic.
Would you recommend undertaking a course with University of Plymouth, and why?
My experience with University of Plymouth has been good and has set me up for my career. I believe that recommending a university depends on what an individual wants on an individual basis. For me, University of Plymouth provided a good course, supported me, and allowed me to live in a beautiful part of the country and train with a great ambulance service.