The start of 2018 signifies the halfway point in my three-year degree. Another 18 months and I’ll have graduated and been working as a newly qualified paramedic – scary stuff!
That being said, it has been fantastic to watch many of ARU’s first graduates taking up paramedic positions across the country; they are role models and inspirations to us all.
Well, what have I been up to lately…?
I’ve worked at the Open Days and Taster Days in October and November, meeting many students who were really interested in finding out more about studying a degree in Paramedic Science, what it takes to become a paramedic. I also had the privilege of chatting with some of the prospective students at some of the Paramedic Science interview days too – some of you are very bright sparks! I find it so encouraging to meet other students who are enthusiastic and want to get involved in such a fast-evolving area of healthcare.
Speaking of which, having finished our first module, we (the second years) headed back out onto the road and back onto placement. This time, my placement was in Islington, North London; this offered a very different challenge than I had previously encountered in Romford (my placement area for the first year). Firstly, it was a much longer drive to and from the station than I was used to, taking me around an hour and a half to get there in (with a little traffic). If you’d like to know a little more about how to prepare for placement have a read of my previous blog here.
Placement was a very interesting and enjoyable five weeks. This year I was with an Australian paramedic, who moved here a few years ago to join LAS. She was a brilliant mentor and I really learnt a lot from her. As students, we were sent back out onto placement with a whole host of new skills. This included additional assessment and airway management skills, and cannulation. Cannulation allows paramedics to give drugs directly into a patient’s vein, to administer medications which can reduce pain, increase blood pressure, and help people when they are poorly. It can be a difficult skill to learn and perfect – although I can proudly say I did manage to successfully cannulate my first patient on my first attempt, I have to admit there has been the odd time I’ve missed!
I had a huge variety of jobs ranging from young children with fevers, to adults with drug overdoses; from an elderly patient requiring a welfare check, to a teenager requiring critical care from London’s Air Ambulance.
I was also on shift when we had the rarity of snow in England – this caused chaos across the country, as always! I absolutely love the snow and found it a delight to be ‘blue-lighting’ around the capital in the snow.
Alongside placement, life as a student paramedic is also accompanied by assignments. Over Christmas I was writing a 4,500-word assignment for Anatomy & Physiology; I chose to write a case study on the details of a type 1 diabetic hypoglycaemic episode and the complications of alcohol has on maintaining homeostasis – which I witnessed on placement.
Writing this, I am currently on the train heading back to university. Our next module is Pharmacology for Healthcare Practice, a very important module as it gives us an understanding of the legal framework surrounding drug administration, as well as the actions, indications, and side effects of drugs we as clinicians can administer. It is vital that Paramedics have an in-depth understanding of these if we hope to secure prescribing rights in the future.
I am also hoping to re-stand in the upcoming Students' Union elections at ARU, so if you are a current student at ARU I urge you to take part in the elections!
Best of luck if you are in the process of applying to university, those coming to ARU I hope I get the opportunity to speak to you on one of our interview days in the near future.