Paramedic Science BSc (Hons)
After initially planning to study Medicine, Mahdiyah discovered Paramedic Science at BCU. After embracing everything that the course had to offer, including the opportunity to work in New Zealand, Mahdiyah threw herself into being a Paramedic. But Mahdiyah has had to face racism from both colleagues and patients and has made it her mission to highlight diversity and inclusion in her industry.
“My Sixth Form hadn’t encouraged us to apply for vocational courses, such as Paramedic Science, so I’d initially applied to study Medicine at a different university. It wasn’t until I was scrolling through the options on UCAS that I discovered it was a possibility.
After reading the description of the Paramedic Science course at BCU, it seemed to match all the reasons I’d wanted to apply to study Medicine in the first place.
I remember making a last-minute decision to add BCU onto my list of UCAS options, and I never looked back. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I remember being really excited the moment I found out I’d got into BCU.
Becoming a Paramedic was something I felt really motivated to start working towards; I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. However, I still felt nervous to start the degree, worrying about the responsibilities and whether I could cope with the workload. During my preparation to go to BCU, I became aware of every ambulance that would go past, doing my best to peer into the windows, realising that soon I could sit in those seats.
Unlike school, university calls for lots of self-directed learning, which can seem like a scary concept when you’re not used to it. I also worried about whether I would fit in and make friends on my course. However, as my sister had studied at BCU, I’d seen for myself the support and praise she received throughout her course, as well as seeing how employable my sister had become after her studies, which really encouraged me too.
Paramedic Science is an intense course, and along with night shifts and high-pressure situations, it was hard to have a ‘normal’ University life. But it was all worth it for the rush of adrenaline you get when you’ve saved someone’s life.
The placement aspect of the course really helped to prepare me for the world of work too. The first few weeks definitely felt daunting, as I didn’t have any healthcare-related experience in Sixth Form, but you quickly get used to it and implement what you’ve been learning in your modules. Right from the beginning, you spend around 500 hours in ambulances. It makes the dream of being a Paramedic one day feel so much more realistic and achievable.
Alongside my ongoing ambulance placement, I managed to secure a work placement on a delivery ward in conjunction with the maternity module I was studying. Having already experienced a birth on the road, where you must adapt quickly to the environment, it was astonishing to see the difference compared to births at the hospital, where they have all the right equipment and experienced staff on hand. I was able to help with deliveries and learned invaluable tips from the midwives which made me feel so confident approaching my next delivery. I even attended a C-section, and the ‘Lion King’ moment was nothing short of a miracle!
In my final year at BCU, we had the option to undertake an elective placement. I’ve always loved travelling, and I had my heart set on New Zealand after hearing so much about their fantastic ambulance service, so I really wanted to experience that – and the land of Lord of the Rings – first hand.
As it was a self-organised placement, I had to constantly call and email the right people over there, which took about a year to organise. But BCU’s Go Abroad team helped massively in easing the stress. They helped me gather the documents and insurance I'd need to travel and work abroad, as well as partly funding me too. Knowing it would be a costly trip, I also applied for the HARS Scholarship which involved many interviews, essays and meetings. After all that, I received one of the very few scholarships awarded which meant, between this and Go Abroad’s help, I was able to fully fund the elective.
On my trip, I got to explore and undertake Ambulance placements as a Student Paramedic in Auckland, Tauranga and Nelson within New Zealand over six weeks and it was an experience I'll never forget. I was the first Student Paramedic from abroad to undertake an elective placement in New Zealand, and that wouldn't have been able to happen without the support of BCU.
I got to experience the real life of a Paramedic ‘down under’, and even have a chance to work on the helicopters with the Critical Care Paramedics, whilst also having an amazing time exploring the beautiful landscapes from mountains to volcanoes and beaches (not to mention Hobbiton!) that New Zealand has to offer.
Since graduating from BCU, I've been lucky enough to have worked in many areas of paramedicine. Whilst I started frontline in an ambulance in the East Midlands as a Paramedic shortly after leaving University, I’ve also had opportunities to work in Primary and Urgent Care, as an event medic covering everything from football matches to festivals, and I’ve even been back at BCU as a Visiting Lecturer.
Alongside work, I get to do some exciting things too, such as becoming a regular contributor to the Journal of Paramedic Practice, where I write published articles and even get to work closely with the College of Paramedics on a few of their projects.
I've had the honour of being invited to speak in many conferences, schools, and centres, about my role, my experiences and my research. However, one of my proudest accomplishments was doing a TEDxtalk back in January 2022. I spoke on the principles of ‘Cultural Construction’ and how they not only affected me and my career, but also how they form effects, both negative and positive, within our lives.
I've also been able to lead and chair the production of a film with the College of Paramedics, highlighting the importance of diversity and inclusion within the profession. It was amazing to be part of that from the very start, to seeing it posted and viewed by so many people.
Something I noticed early on though, was that a lot of paramedics don’t look like me. I never come across a Paramedic of my ethnicity, never see them wearing a symbol of their faith like I wear my headscarf.
Being a minority in paramedicine has been starkly obvious to me. I faced racism from both colleagues and patients, and constantly felt like I didn't have a voice. However, my faith became my strength, and it helped me to motivate myself and find like-minded people.
Through speaking out against some of the negativity I faced, I met so many individuals who not only made me realise my value but let me use my experiences to help shape the future of paramedicine into a career that is for everyone.
To me, I AM BCU means that you'll be seen. Your individuality, your accomplishments, your goals and aspirations will be valued, and you'll be motivated to achieve them.”
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