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Discovering the importance of small talk as a student paramedic

Oliver Cubitt

Faculty: Health, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Allied Health and Social Care
Course: BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science
Category: Allied and public health

17 February 2015

First-year Paramedic Science student Oli blogs out about one of his biggest take-aways from going out on placement for the first time.

In the last week on the road, I have noticed one thing: while it can’t be taught in a classroom, it has led to patients being much more relaxed and at ease with us, which in turn has made treating them much easier from the point of view of an ambulance crew.

No, this is not a sedative or any form of medication – it is, in fact something much simpler… small talk!

Making a difference

One call that springs to mind was to an elderly lady in a care home who had fallen and we believed to have a water infection.

On our arrival, the patient was very much adamant that she didn't want to go to hospital, and it took both my mentor and a member of staff from the home to explain to her why it would be in her interests to go. She reluctantly agreed.

Once we'd got her onto the ambulance and were on the way to the hospital, we began to talk about her life: how she'd been in the land army, her family farm, and about her grandchildren.

We could have spoken for hours, and once we reached the hospital we were specifically thanked by the patient for helping her relax by talking with her – apparently having ‘two handsome young men to talk to’ made a nice change to her carers and children. Who am I to argue with that?

It wasn’t only the patient who benefited from our conversation either. I had a delicious beef casserole for dinner on Sunday following tips she had given me on the journey!

Common interests

It is not just the elderly who I have had interesting conversations with. Throughout placement so far, I have spoken to younger patients about subjects such as cars (including Top Gear’s ambulance episode), pets, travel, and, in one case, skydiving.

This career choice has already exposed me to a huge variety of patients, both in terms of clinical presentation and personality. I have already seen that while, of course, medical treatment is of great importance to the improvement of a patient’s condition, it can often be the smallest of things such as a simple conversation that make a difference.

Oli studies Paramedic Science at ARU in Cambridge. Find out more about this and other degree courses at one of our Open Days.


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