28 March 2023
My first year of paramedic science was one of the most eye-opening years I have had while being in education. I came to university at the age of 18 having moved far away from home. I always had a lot of excitement towards the course and always looked forward to learning more and more.
In first year, the first trimester is spent teaching anatomy and physiology (A&P) of the human body which was a brilliant experience as we were fortunate enough to be able to use the cadaver labs available to us. It was an excellent way to visualise the human anatomy and how exceptional it is. Along-side the A&P module we also completed a professional practice module which delved into the role of a paramedic and what it means to be a registered paramedic.
After the Christmas break, we had two more core modules to complete which would have taught us enough for us to be ready to go out on the roads for our clinical placements. We completed a fundamentals of patient assessment module which taught us all about communication with patients and how to carry out initial assessments on patients. Our first skill sessions were taught in this module which was a brilliant way to learn with the other students on the course as you can all learn from each other. This module also included our first OSCE which is a clinical examination that is done face to face with an examiner where they simulate a scenario that would be true to life between you and a patient, and it is expected of you to apply all the theory that had been taught in the last few months. This module will put you in a very good position to be able to go out for your first placements and help you build your confidence when it comes to interacting with patients, as for most of us it would have been our first times!
The last theory element of first year is the Chest Pain and Shortness of Breath module. This teaches you about some of the most common presentations you will come across amongst the patients you treat. You will be taught how to assess the respiratory system, listen to patients’ lungs and much more. For the cardiac elements, you will be taught how to carry out ECG’s, how to interpret them and how patients are most like to present when they are going through a cardiac event.
Last but definitely not least, and what the whole year builds up to, is your first clinical placement. You will either be based in the east of England doing your placement with EEAST or based in London with LAS. Personally, this was one of the best experiences I went through. By no means am I saying it was an easy experience as it did have its challenges, but it really puts into perspective what the job is about and making differences to some people’s worst days for the better is a feel-good feeling like no other.
However, I always try to be transparent about the challenges that you will face. Your placement shifts schedule is based off your allocated mentor which means having to be there for the shift no matter what time it is (shift patterns vary from earlies, lates and night shifts). The standard shift is 12 hours on the road excluding the commute to and from your place of residence which sometimes could take up to an hour and a half each way.
Organisation is key during your placements as you end up spending a lot of time learning and out on the roads. It is vital to keep up with eating and sleeping well as it makes a massive difference to being able to focus and learn. Every individual will develop a routine that works best for them which will make future placements easier.
Everything aside, you will also be experiencing a lot of firsts which can be a little overwhelming sometimes. This makes it vital to prioritise your mental and physical well-being and to look after yourself. Talking to peers about experiences is especially helpful as no one will understand like they do. I thoroughly enjoyed my first year of university and have met people that have made a huge impact on my life and look forward to being able to do this as a career.