"I’m now working as a newly qualified paramedic and can finally enjoy getting those paramedics slides on my shoulders that I’ve worked so long and hard for, to provide person-centred care to my patients."
Why I chose Surrey
Before I applied for the BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science course at Surrey, I spent two years volunteering in my local community with St John Ambulance. Here, I gained experience communicating with and caring for patients across a variety of healthcare settings, including first aid duties, hospital transfers and care homes. My interest and passion for patient-centred care in the pre-hospital setting grew and I decided to pursue a career in paramedic practice.
When I came to Surrey for my interview, I went on a tour and felt an instant connection to the beautiful campus and student community. These were important to me as I wanted to study somewhere I felt comfortable making new friends and getting involved in other activities outside of my course.
I was at the start of an exciting and life-changing journey, and I just knew that Surrey was the right choice for me.
The course was 50% theory and 50% clinical practice. This framework meant I could focus on the course content during theory weeks, while also having time to participate in extracurricular activities like sports and have down time. During my placements, I consolidated my theoretical learning and got to fully experience what life was like ‘on the road’ as a paramedic.
The teaching staff were very welcoming and friendly from day one, and always supported me, both at the University and when I was out on placement. As a student with learning difficulties, I was able to access additional support to help me with my studies and exams, which gave me confidence to learn and succeed at my own pace.
The facilities at the Kate Granger Building were an absolute joy to learn in. There’s a Clinical Simulation Centre, including an Immersive Learning Environment that uses projection technologies and professional actors to mimic realistic clinical scenarios. These gave me an insight into some of the high-pressure situations I now face as a paramedic, and a safe, controlled environment to make mistakes in and learn from. There’s also clinical wards and a fully-equipped ambulance that enables the replication of a roadside to hospital scenario, encompassing all aspects of a patient’s journey of care.
My clinical placements
Throughout my three years, I had a variety of hospital and ambulance-based clinical placements, working on an acute stroke ward, in adult and paediatric accident and emergency departments, on minor injuries and coronary care units, in surgical theatres, and even on a maternity suite. Most notably, I was placed with the South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb), in an emergency ambulance as part of a three-person crew, attending all categories of emergency calls.
My placements helped me build a rapport with my patients and their families, and emphasised the importance of good, effective team work. As I progressed through my degree, so did my knowledge base and clinical skillset, reflecting the competencies of the course.
As a student paramedic, there are many highlights and challenges of placement, that at times can feel isolating and draining, especially when you hit ‘the wall’ at 4am on a 12-hour night shift. But it’s also filled with excitement and profound moments of humanity that make you proud to be in the pursuit of such a fulfilling and rewarding career, that places the patient at the centre of everything it does.
"I’ll cherish the memories of my time as a student paramedic, as it allowed to experience and better understand the many aspects of the human condition and introduced me to my ‘green family’ within the ambulance service."
My most memorable moments
In my final year, I was elected President of ParaSoc, the University’s paramedic society. I was privileged to lead a dedicated team of student paramedics in organising a national conference on paediatric care in November 2019, in partnership with the College of Paramedics. The event was attended by over 230 delegates and was a true stand-out moment in my degree.
I was also selected to attend a week with Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex on their crew induction course, outside of my usual training, and the experience was invaluable!
Throughout my time at Surrey, I also achieved two academic publications, a book chapter on student engagement and an article on paramedic decision-making, which will be coming out in the Journal of Paramedic Practice later this year.
When I graduated, I received the prestigious 'Head of School Prize' which was the perfect way to end my student paramedic journey at Surrey. I'll forever be grateful for all of the opportunities I had!
My life at Surrey
In my first year, I stayed in halls at Manor Park, which was a five-minute walk from the Kate Granger Building. Sharing my accommodation helped me make new friends and settle into my new life at university.
My student experience boiled down to the Students’ Union, the different societies, Surrey Sports Park, late nights in the Library (try to avoid these but if it’s unavoidable, caffeine and pizza will be your best friends!), nights out in Rubix and Spoons, and the many morning coffees at the campus Starbucks before lectures.
My career and development
When I came to Surrey in September 2017, I was 30 years of age and wasn’t fully sure what I might gain from the experience. In retrospect, it was the best three years of my life. I’ll cherish the memories of my time as a student paramedic, as it allowed to experience and better understand the many aspects of the human condition and introduced me to what I have fondly come to know as my ‘green family’ within the ambulance service and wider NHS.
I’m now working as a newly qualified paramedic for SECAmb and can finally enjoy getting those paramedics slides on my shoulders that I’ve worked so long and hard for, to provide person-centred care to my patients. I'd be remiss if I didn’t mention driving around on blue lights!
Try to gain experience and understanding of patient-centred care before you apply. A good way to do this could be volunteering in your local care home or working with individuals with dementia, to build your understanding of their needs and communication techniques.
Research the course and look at the module breakdowns and course flow to better understand what will be expected of you as a student paramedic.
Don’t give up! You’re good enough and remember that success is built on failure. When you do get there, jump in with both feet!