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BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science
- New government grants available from September 2020 for new and continuing degree-level students. You may be eligible for additional support of at least £5,000 a year which you won't need to pay back.
- You may also be eligible for an additional £1,000 towards childcare costs to help balance your studies with family life.
Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, examinations may be replaced by an alternative form of assessment during the academic year 2020/2021. Please refer to the Programme Specification on these pages for further details.
Why choose this course?
- Your learning experience is constructed from 12 years of professional leadership in paramedic education and development, specifically designed to support your studies and enhance your work experience.
- The BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science degree is the first nationally to integrate your full paramedic training to the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration standards within a full-time degree programme.
- Your vocational placement will be either the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust (LAS) or the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST).
- You will be eligible to apply to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a qualified Paramedic on successful completion of this BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science degree, which significantly increases your employability opportunities.
- 100% of our Paramedic Science graduates went on to employment or further study within 6 months according to the latest national Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey.
What's the course about?
Paramedics are autonomous practitioners, who are often the first point of contact for a patient requiring emergency or urgent healthcare. They work in a variety of settings and deliver patient care in situations that can be complex and highly pressured. This course will equip you with the knowledge and skills required to manage patients with illness or injury, including assessment and diagnostic skills through to treatment or referral to other healthcare professionals. The course has strong emphasis on high-quality care, taking into account rapid changes within the profession. A sound understanding of evidence-based practice and research is a fundamental part of your education. Your studies will be interspersed with practice placements, facilitated by local ambulance services.
What will I study?
You'll experience a wide variety of learning styles on this course. During your studies you'll develop your capacity for self-directed study and your interpersonal skills. We particularly emphasise the importance of structured research; well-prepared written and verbal presentations; and computer literacy.
Alongside elements of standard lectures, seminars, tutorials and laboratories, you also learn through case studies, individual and group projects and other student centred activities. In your final year you will normally have the opportunity to practice your independent study skills by completing a Major project or dissertation.
Cameron - Week at a glance
Week at a glance
Once upon a time, before this current pandemic, there was such thing as a “normal week” at university. As hard is it may be, it is important to cast out minds back to such times. I hope my account of one such week is good to reminisce over and hopefully give you some insight into what kind of a lifestyle you can look forward to.
My weeks would normally start busy, with Monday and Tuesday being mainly full of lectures. Usually, my spare time in the day would be used to run home and grab some food, before running back across the town to get to the next lecture. In the evenings, I would go to the climbing club on Monday and St Johns on Tuesday. These are a good way to relax after long days of lectures.
Wednesdays are quite good, in the way that half the day is taken up with sports. First half of the day was usually a lecture, then I would go to the climbing club then usually to the pub afterwards with a few friends.
Thursdays always a day for practical sessions, which are the best lectures we have. Its where you get to try out procedures and examination techniques you learned earlier in the week, which I think every student Health Care Professionals (HCPs) will agree is the main reason they are on the course to begin with. The rest of the day I would usually spend in the library writing essays and reading around the topics covered earlier in the week, as well as dealing with any smaller admin tasks, such as meetings with lecturers.
Fridays there weren’t usually any lectures, so the day was mainly taken up with working on course content from home, so a mix of going over covered content, finding new content or writing essays.
Saturday and Sunday were free time and that’s something I don’t think people generally consider with university. There are copious amounts of free time with no one telling you what to do. Coming straight from college to that is a frightening concept, having no real accountability except to yourself for vast amounts of the week. It’s not just weekends, but all the time you’re not in lectures, there’s no one forcing you to do anything specific.
Self-motivation is key here, so I would always try to push myself into doing something at least somewhat productive. One thing I tried to do as much as I could was pick up hours of work or volunteering. I also tried to refine my cooking in terms of taste and price (You would be amazed how cheap you can make good food for with a bit of practice). I’d also exercise as much as possible at the climbing wall, trying to go an extra 3 times a week on top of the 2 normal sessions. There’s also the obvious part of doing as much self-lead study as possible, aiming for the best grades I could.
And even when I wasn’t being productive, that’s ok. No one can be going 100% all the time because that’s how you burn out and then you stop being productive, which is just working against yourself. Relaxation is just as key to success as hard work. I’d relax by doing stuff with friends, calling friends and family and spending time on my computer and watching Netflix.
Whilst my week is undoubtably different to others, I hope it’s a useful insight into a student paramedic life (While not on placement, that’s a WHOLE different world). I’m sure everyone has their own way of doing stuff but that’s my take on a week.
University is unlike any other time in your life. There are so many cultures all around you, both internationally and localised to courses; lifestyles ranging from those with courses in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), healthcare and the arts. It's an experience I wholeheartedly recommend because you learn to take care of yourself, grow in maturity and independence while gaining an unparalleled view of the world.
Cameron - Typical day on Placement
A typical day on placement: Paramedic Science
The placement by far is the best part of any health course. It’s a look into the career you work so hard to achieve. This is a look into a 12-hour shift I undertook, starting at 06:00 am.
I wake up at 4:30 am, make some breakfast and put my food for the day in my bag then set off. I aim to set off at about 05:00 am. About 30 to 45 minutes later, I arrive at the station. The first thing I do is make a pot of coffee, sort out my bags and equipment then go to the ambulance. I then check the ambulance to make sure everything is working mechanically and make sure that we have all the equipment we need. Usually my crew have arrived by now, taken out the medication and helped load equipment onto the ambulance. We aim to be ready to start by 06:10 am.
We normally get the first job once we become available. The jobs that we usually receive range from chest pains to minor injuries, to falls and social emergencies. When people say that the ambulance goes to everything and anything, it’s an understatement. You meet hundreds of different people with different ways of life, different views on the world and interesting life stories. Some people are having a minor emergency, where things work slower and more calmly and some are having a major emergency, where quick decisions make all the difference to someone’s outcome. Some patients you can leave at home with advice or you may refer some to their GP. Each job is different and can have wildly different outcomes.
With each patient, you get a lot of power to do assessments and make decisions. Generally, you make most of the decisions and treatment plans and procedures within your scope. There is, however, a slight caveat. Much like a rollercoaster gives you the feeling of danger while you are relatively safe, your mentor is watching everything you do, and will overrule any decision you make if it goes against their plan of action. It’s a strange sense of freedom and safety. A good mentor will give you enough room to make mistakes, but not enough to cause harm by doing so.
The amount of responsibilities you have in each ambulance varies by crew. Some will ask you to do all the monitoring, some will ask you to attend each patient (attending a patient is basically taking the responsibility for the outcome and doing the paperwork). It varies by who you work with at any given time.
An average day will have 5-7 patients, each with varying levels of sickness. The days are long but go by quickly as you are always busy. Breaks are a rarity on ambulances, you mainly eat your food on the way to patients. Although the average “job time” is an hour and a half, it can be much longer depending on the situation. I think my personal longest is 5-6 hours, although there are others with much longer times.
At the end of the day you return to station, empty out the truck and go home. It’s quite a quick process depending on how much you have. Once back home I make food for the next day, defrost some dinner I made earlier in the week, eat, shower, sleep and repeat.
Cameron - Things you should know
Things you need to know before studying Paramedic Science at Herts
Anyone applying to this course, as with most healthcare professional courses, is very much aware of the career they are looking to start, which is a blessing of sorts. These are just a few things I think people should know whilst considering a career as a health care professional.
Since its recognition as a profession in the 1990s, to the “Paramedic Evidence Based Education Project” in 2013, it has become more obvious that paramedics are moving rapidly into being an evidence-based healthcare profession. This means that our practice is constantly changing as evidence finds more effective practices or removes less-effective practices. Gone are the days of “scoop and shoot”, and here are the days of treating patients, leaving the ambulance services and being a key part of emergency medicine. When I started this degree, I didn’t understand the true nature of the role as I do now. Its far more complicated that I first thought, and it is more obvious than ever that a degree is what is needed to understand the profession as it changes.
Another thing that needs considering is the range of careers available. In times gone by, paramedics just worked on ambulances. Now, you can find them in all corners of healthcare, ranging from GP surgeries, to A+E, to oil rigs and cruise ships. #notallparamedicsweargreen was started to highlight this, and I highly encourage all interested in this course to look it up.
The course itself is a strange beast unto itself. The two main theoretical components are the science elements and the patient assessment and management. Whilst the other aspects of the course can feel a little bit less relevant, you realise their usefulness in practice very quickly. Whilst elements of law may feel distant, when you are faced with complex medico-legal situations, you will thank your lucky stars you paid attention in that lecture.
Another aspect of the course to consider is your time learning. Unlike in some courses, everything you learn you will have to put into practice soon, so it’s well worth your time learning both the general paramedic theory, as well as trust specific protocols for placement. Knowing these makes you far more useful to the crew your put with on placement.
A final misconception I personally had before I personally had was that the medical knowledge wouldn’t be as advanced as it is. What we cover is quite advanced medical concepts, more so than I had expected, so be prepared for the science to get intense, very quickly.
Another beast is placement. Placement is the best part of the year by all measures. Its where you practice all the elements you have learned in theory and have the single best look into your future career. That doesn’t mean it’s not a challenging time though. Firstly, the logistics of getting to stations 20 miles away at 6 in the morning is hard on its own, especially if you don’t have your own transportation. Secondly, you are fully exposed to whatever the crew goes to. Car crashes, stabbings, mental health patients, you see it all. Thankfully, serious jobs aren’t an everyday occurrence for most, but they do happen. There’s nothing stopping you going to deceased patients in your first week. Thankfully, there is so much support, both from the trust and the university, as well as your mentors. Finally, placement is exhausting after a while. 12-hour shifts at odd times, night shifts, constant inflow of patients. There’s no getting around the fact you are under a lot of stress over the course of the month.
There is a lot of stuff about the course and placement that I wish I could tell you about, but then this wouldn’t be a blog, rather a book. At the end of the day, paramedic science and the career it leads you to is at times tough but highly rewarding.