A great foundation for becoming a paramedic

Zaidia Hussain graduated from BSc (Hons) Paramedic Practitioner in 2013 and now works as a paramedic for the London Ambulance Service.

This is Zaidia's story

Choosing Plymouth

"I chose Plymouth as it allowed me to become a paramedic with a foundation degree with the option of continuing onto a BSc and gaining the practitioner qualification. This has been significant for me as it has allowed me to gain the qualification as a practitioner and allowed me to work within an Urgent Care Centre. It was an additional career progression step that I was able to take before starting to practice. I now have many friends who are studying part time to gain those practitioner qualifications. I am thankful that the University had already incorporated it within the degree.

We were a very small cohort in comparison to other courses. We had under 50 people on our course so we were able to get to know each other really well. So it felt more intimate than most degree courses and it allowed us to grow together which I think we would not have experienced going to a different university. 

I also really enjoyed the variation of placements the University had to offer. We were able to work within specialist wards and centres which allowed me to learn so much.

The course has a lot of placement time which allowed us to go out on an ambulance pretty much from the start. This really made the career real as we were attending 999 emergency calls and involved in patient care within the first few months of being at university. I don’t think there is any better way to experience the career you are about to embark on than to be working on the frontline. It gave me a great foundation for being a paramedic. The frontline placements meant we were paired up with a paramedic and worked alongside them. I had a very knowledgeable and calm mentor, David Whitmore, which also helped. He put so much time and effort into my learning and really built my confidence and skills.

The placements within the course were very varied. We were not solely just on a frontline ambulance. We spent placements within specialist care units such as the Cardiac Care, Stroke, Paediatric, Older Adult, Accident and Emergency Units as well as Day Surgery Centres. This allowed us to gain knowledge and experience from a variety of colleagues within the medical field. It personally allowed me to gain knowledge and skills that I would use in my practice in the pre-hospital care setting. It showed me how my skills as a paramedic were transferrable and could be used in hospital."

"Before studying at Plymouth, I don’t think I would have considered working as an emergency care practitioner. 

I always thought as a paramedic I would work in emergency lifesaving medicine. I did not realise I would be able to deal with minor illness and injuries as I felt that was a GP/nurse or in hospital role.

Plymouth has so much to offer. Not only is the University well recognised by employers but the location is ideal."

Working as a paramedic

"I had secured a full time job offer before my graduation ceremony, starting in December 2013. I went for the interview in September and was given the job offer within a few hours so I took it straight away. I have been working as a paramedic with the London Ambulance Service since. After a year or so of building my own foundation and confidence into the career, I chose to be a Placement Practice Educator. I felt I could give so much to others and understand the difficulties and steep learning. I have enjoyed mentoring university students as well as international and national graduate paramedics. I have recently started to also utilise my practitioner skills learnt from the degree and I have undertaken emergency care practitioner/ paramedic roles within an Urgent Care Centre. 

Unlike some paramedics, I already hold the BSc qualification therefore the next step for study is a masters. I am currently in the process of starting my masters within healthcare practice. My father has always been a great role model and also supported and pushed me to further education. It is because of his passion and persistence I decided to undertake university and he is now supporting me to complete my masters. 

The London Ambulance Service are very supportive of career progression and continuation of professional development. Thankfully I am able to take a career break for up to a year within the ambulance service. I would have taken the time to consider doing my masters straight after university rather than later on in my career. I wish I had more time to promote the profession. When I was at the University I was a student ambassador and did many talks on paramedicine and how wonderful this role is.

When becoming a paramedic everyone hopes for the opportunity to save someone’s life or help someone in their time of need. I have been involved in a variety of clinical incidents however this major trauma was one of the most rewarding cases I have been a part of. I went to a young man in his 20s who had been stabbed and had a punctured heart. He was not moving or breathing when we arrived. Our quick assessment allowed us to contact the emergency pre-hospital trauma doctor who was able to get his heart started again. A few months later he came in with a cake to say thank you for saving his life. It’s moments like that I will never forget. I was involved in saving the life of a young man who is only the second person in the country to survive that injury. Apart from cases like this, I have been able to become an event paramedic and work at football matches and large events too." 

Excelling in a male-dominated profession

"Working in such a male-dominated profession can be difficult. At times, it feels like you are having to prove you are able to do the job as an equal. Even though I am more qualified than my male colleague, I still have patients asking him for his opinion on the advice I had just given them. This can be difficult as I feel I have already proven my place as a paramedic through all the hard work and assessments. 

As a petite female there isn’t a day I don't get a comment about my ability. Whether it’s a patient who doesn’t think I can assist lifting them, or someone who questions my ability to drive the ambulance. However, I don’t allow it to get me down, as I feel I have just changed their opinion about what I am able to do. There are more and more females joining the emergency services and proving that we can do the job too.

As a young British Pakistani female, I have found I have broken many barriers to join this career. The pride I feel when treating patients from my community, who say I am so glad there are young women like me doing these jobs, is indescribable. However, I always reply by saying that we should be allowing our girls to join the emergency services, to make a difference, too.

For the first time in history the head of all the emergency services are women. This just proves how far we have come and that we are able to do these jobs and we aim to do them better. Not only have I broken down barriers in the community to achieve my dream as a paramedic, but I have chosen to do it in a male-dominated career to prove I can do it too!"

Follow in Zaidia's footsteps

Being a paramedic practitioner is a highly rewarding and stimulating career, with many opportunities to specialise. 

Following a curriculum that is informed by service users and carers, and focuses on quality patient management, you'll work in the unpredictable environment of pre-hospital healthcare and, as such, you will learn how to be dynamic with your decision-making, aptitude and application of skills.

Study BSc (Hons) Paramedic Practitioner