Here I am writing a blog for the Scottish University of the Year, as a student of the very first BSc Paramedic Practice cohort at RGU. How on earth did I make it here? Read on to learn more about my journey.
A little bit about myself..
My name is Laura and I am at 27 years old. I am back to university and on the path to become a paramedic. I am writing this as an adult who did not take any exams in school. I believe that there are always options no matter your age, circumstances, past or present. For me, I conveniently decided to wait until I gave birth to my son before starting my journey back to education. You could say that I don’t like to make things easy for myself, but my little one was the motivation to pursue what I thought was impossible.
If you are someone like me – someone who is looking to shape your career or completely switch fields. You need as much insight as you can get!Laura Green, BSc Paramedic Practice student at RGU
When did I decide to become a Paramedic?
I have been happily married for 4 years and I have a 3-year-old son, Jax. Before becoming a mother, I had a successful career as a retail manager for Kurt Geiger. In addition to that, I had various other retail/hospitality jobs.
How did I get from selling shoes to being passionate about becoming a paramedic? A series of unfortunate events.Laura Green, BSc Paramedic Practice student at RGU
Firstly, I have always had cold feet at work. Nothing ever quite fulfilled me. But for as long as I can remember, I have always found myself peering out of my car window or telling myself not to be nosey whenever I passed an ambulance crew parked up in the street. Looking back, I don’t think I realised that I was longing to learn more about a career that I thought was never within reach. When you leave school without any qualifications, you quickly start to write off certain careers. Especially those of the qualified professional nature.
In 2017, I lost my father figure, the heart and soul of my life – my grandad. He was a hard worker that worked until the day he died. His death was unexpected and incredibly traumatic. I found myself researching the aspects of his death and talking about it openly with my husband. Strange perhaps, but it was my way of dealing with it. A morbid curiosity I suppose. Not long after, my son was taken into hospital with suspected meningitis. I found myself, in complete awe, of the paramedics who helped him. Their compassion and knowledge blew me away. It was a lightbulb moment for me. I wanted to pour my heart and soul into something, and becoming a paramedic was it.
Making an application
During my maternity leave, I resigned from my managerial role. I enrolled in the HNC Care and Administrative Practice course at my local college. This course gave me the qualifications I needed to get into University. After 2 years of college education, alongside a few tears at my attempts to balance this with motherhood, I found myself applying to the BSc Paramedic Practice course at RGU. It was an agonising wait after I submitted my university application. I must have checked my emails more than 5 times a day.
But the application process with RGU was smooth, quick and I had regular updates and correspondence throughout. I was pleasantly surprised at how much information I received prior to my interview.Laura Green, BSc Paramedic Practice student at RGU
COVID-19 had surfaced and everything had fallen into chaos. But the support from the RGU Admissions team throughout the process was admirable. It is a general perception that interviews can intimidating and that interviewers are always looking to catch you out. This was not the case at all at RGU. I was told exactly what to expect at my interview and I felt like the staff wanted me to succeed. I had a telephonic interview due to the pandemic. I was excited and confident by the end of it. It felt like a general chat. I received my offer around 2 weeks later.
Starting the Paramedic Practice degree
Now here I am. A student paramedic. And my goodness… what an experience it has been so far. RGU is the Scottish University of the Year (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021) and I can honestly say, now I know why.
This is strange and difficult time to be a student, but the support from the university has been outstanding.Laura Green, BSc Paramedic Practice student at RGU
Semester 1 has mostly been delivered online so far. Prospective students might feel nervous when they hear the word ‘online’. But I can assure you that our learning has not been disadvantaged, nor have we gone short of interaction with others. In fact, we have been truly brought out of our shells.
The online systems used by the university can include us in the live lectures, just as we would be face to face. We can raise our hand; ask questions and even break out into separate online rooms to do group work. There is no hiding away behind the screen. The lecturers get the best out of you and I promise you, it’s often a great laugh.
Of course, with such a beautiful campus, we want nothing more than to be back there full time. But when you have a family, there are usually many factors working together to prevent you making it to Uni for 9am. Those online lectures from the comfort of your own home are a godsend!
On-campus classes as part of the blended learning approach
We have just started week eight of the Paramedic Practice course. Last week, we had our first face to face session on campus. I am sure I can say on behalf of my fellow students that these sessions felt like Christmas. We finally got to meet each other and it was absolutely worth the wait.
We knew exactly what to expect before arriving on campus. It was faultless in terms of following Covid-19 safety precautions. There were easy-to-follow instructions, clear (and can I say, aesthetically pleasing) signage and friendly faces all round. It is easy to feel under pressure during these times, but within the first hour indoors, any Covid-19 worries were gone.Laura Green, BSc Paramedic Practice student at RGU
During our face-to-face sessions, we learned the clinical and basic life support skills that we need to be road-ready. Our lecturer is a paramedic and was kind enough to bring in other experienced paramedics/clinicians to teach us. What a fantastic experience being taught by professionals. It is fair to say that we did not want to go home afterwards; the adrenaline and excitement after class was amazing.
Paramedic Practice course experience
You might think that simulated scenarios are awkward or difficult, but I can tell you that everything disappears very quickly as soon immerse yourself. You act as if that mannequin’s life depends on it! The enthusiasm of the staff is truly infectious.
The clinical skills centre at RGU is fantastic. The equipment is modern, fit for purpose and replicates real-life environments very well.Laura Green, BSc Paramedic Practice student at RGU
Our cohort is now preparing for our first exam. Our first placement begins in January. Time flies! We have learned a lot and are confident in the essential skills. Some of these include, taking manual blood pressure, chest auscultation, applying a 12 lead ECG, taking temperature, airway management, CPR, use of a defibrillator including recognising shockable heart rhythms, carrying out simulated emergency scenarios and getting to grips with all of the equipment you see in those large green bags! There is a real possibility that we may face some not very nice scenarios during our placement. However, my mind is at ease. I feel 100% supported by my group tutor.
Eight weeks in, I know whole heartedly that I have made the right decision.Laura Green, BSc Paramedic Practice student at RGU
Advice to future applicants
For anyone considering becoming a student paramedic at RGU, I would like to tell you that the course has a variety of students from all ages. We are all from different backgrounds and cultures, some have joined the course straight from school whilst some are parents like me, juggling their studies with family life.
For those who have been out of education for a few years, the university embraces, supports and encourages you in every way. RGU has a great study skills team to help you!Laura Green, BSc Paramedic Practice student at RGU
As for online learning, it may be here to stay for a while. But if you create a study space for yourself, light a candle and embrace it – you will be just fine!
Follow my journey..
I have been sharing my experience, giving insights and answering questions regularly over on Instagram. Please feel free to follow me or to ask any questions if you are considering Paramedic Practice. I’m very happy to help!
Written by Laura Green