BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science
NHS Learning Support Fund
- Training grants of at least £5,000 a year are available for eligible healthcare students which you will not have to pay back.
- You may also be eligible for an additional £2,000 towards childcare costs to help balance your studies with family life and £3,000 for students who find themselves in unforeseen financial hardship.
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. The 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 the 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 be 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 three times a week on top of the two 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 undoubtedly 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 - 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 consider 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. It's far more complicated than 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 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 the 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 06:00 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, a 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.
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.
I wake up at 04:30, 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. 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.
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 the crew. Some will ask you to do all the monitoring, some will ask you to attend each patient (attending a patient is 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 five to seven 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 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 five to six hours, although there are others with much longer times.
At the end of the day, you return to the 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.
Meet lifesaving paramedic James Wilkinson, who shares his clinical knowledge with other students.Read more stories BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science
|Year of graduation||2016|
|Course of study|
|BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science|
An emergency responder
Since graduating with his BSc (Hons) James has worked for London Ambulance Service. As a newly qualified paramedic, James was one of the first responders to a terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge in London. James says, “I saw first-hand the impact of effective teamwork. Working together with other emergency services and NHS professionals we were able to save lives. The event also highlighted to me the importance of respecting people’s mental health, and I would encourage others to talk about issues that arise in their professional career.” James’ bravery and professionalism have been widely recognised by his NHS colleagues, the London Ambulance Service, and Downing Street.
Sharing knowledge with students
James really enjoys sharing his clinical knowledge with others. He says, “my excellent academic experience at Herts has enabled me to support current Herts students who undertake their placements with the London Ambulance Service. I am also a Clinical Lecturer at the University of Cumbria. I aim to build upon and strengthen the foundations of undergraduate education to benefit the next generation of paramedic students.”
Improving patient care through further study
James is passionate about lifelong learning. He says, “my plan is to advance my career into Critical Care as an Advanced Paramedic. I have come back to Herts to study for my MSc, and I will also look at progressing on to PhD level and beyond, working on improving patient care. I have found the further study so interesting and beneficial to my work and own personal understanding of different fields.”
Life at Herts
James initially opted to study at Herts because the placement opportunities were really enticing, and he joined a campus applicant day to find out more. He says, “I absolutely loved the look, feel and friendliness of the university! This positive experience fed through my undergraduate years and into my postgraduate study. I have found the module content on my course extremely interesting and very relevant to practice.”
James’ favourite memory from first joining Herts is from Freshers’ week. He says, “it was a great opportunity to socialise with other students from both my own cohort and other courses. I remember a huge karaoke night, a surprise concert from Tinie Tempah, and a collection of great artists in the Forum.”
Meet London Ambulance Service paramedic Sean Cloak, who shares his clinical knowledge as a Visiting Lecturer.Read more stories Paramedic science courses
|Year of graduation||2013|
|Course of study||Paramedic Science|
A supportive learning environment
Sean has recently returned to clinical practice, working full time as an operational paramedic with the London Ambulance Service and works on a Fast Response Vehicle (FRV) based out of Becontree Ambulance Station. He is also a Visiting Lecturer for the Paramedic Science team at Herts. Sean says, ‘the University of Hertfordshire is incredibly fortunate to have highly professional and talented lecturing staff who ultimately then became colleagues of mine when I joined the team as a Senior Lecturer. These individuals have shaped my career and still do today by supporting and guiding me in my development.’
Sean applied to various universities offering Paramedic Science around the country, but Herts ultimately became his first choice for two reasons, ‘It was one of the first university's to successfully deliver a paramedic degree and it was partnered with the London Ambulance Service. It was also the reputation of the University and the long-standing history of the course itself.’
A hands-on course
Although the Paramedic Science course has changed over the years, Sean’s favourite aspect of his course whilst he was at Herts, was the split nature of it between employment for the London Ambulance Service and university study. Sean qualified as an EMT (emergency medical technician) in his first year after undergoing operational training with the ambulance service. For his remaining two years of study, he worked for the London Ambulance Service whilst studying for his degree. Sean says ‘this provided me with a perfect balance of theory and practical based learning. I also got a wage from working which helped me as a student.’
Friends for life
The most memorable part of Sean’s student experience was the friends he made. He says, ‘the friends that I made from my course when I was a student over 10 years ago now are still my closest, we are all still in contact, we are all married and have our own children now and we are all still working within the ambulance and pre-hospital sector.’
‘My next achievement would be to finally do an MSc, but for now my focus is on watching and being present for my 2 young children as they grow up.’