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Tom Morrell - Paramedic Science

Tom Morrell

Hi! I'm Tom and I'm just finishing my first year on BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science. Preparing to start uni is really exciting, but can be overwhelming too. I've shared my advice and tips to make your transition to uni life as smooth as possible.

Do you live at home and commute or away from home? What are the pros/cons of this?

So, actually I’ve been lucky (or unlucky!) enough to experience both. I live in Birmingham when I’m at uni and live at home when I’m on placement. Living near uni is great, especially for nightlife, friends and there’s so many different things to do in Birmingham itself. However, as my placement is with East Midlands Ambulance Service in Nottinghamshire it makes sense to live at home; this means my parents are there for dinner, there’s always a car parking space and I’m saving a fortune, but when your mates live all over the region it’s not the best from a social perspective!

What’s your favourite thing about Birmingham as a city? Where do you enjoy going/what do you enjoy doing?

Where do I even start?! I love Christmas markets and Birmingham’s is just massive, stretching all the way down New Street to the University’s City Centre Campus on the eastern edge of the city centre. I didn’t find out all Birmingham had to offer until I left to go home for placement for the first time when I realised I’d missed out on Digbeth Dining Club, Lane7 and Ghetto Golf! Luckily I’ve had plenty of time to catch up on the many amazing things to experience and they’re not actually too expensive, which is a bonus. I love going for cocktails on the canal by the Mailbox and the shopping is fabulous with literally every shop you could imagine either on the high street on in the Bullring, Grand Central or Mailbox.

Is there anything that new students should be aware of?

You get two sets of uniform from University but if you’re on a 36+ hour placement week, studying, reading (and perhaps working a part time job), it doesn’t leave much time to get the washing done so you’ll probably need to get some extra items of uniform (these are about £10 each from the University). Balancing your finances is tough as a student. You have to remember the other things you need to buy like a stethoscope or a JRCALC pocket book, which you could use some of your £150 credit to buy through the online shop once you enrol. You’ll also underestimate how much you’ll spend on petrol driving to placement, or maintaining your car!

Living as a student you’ll spend so much time doing things you’ll forget about assignments and University, especially when you start a placement block; it’s important to remember uni doesn’t stop though just because you’re not there every day! Finishing shifts at 7am can be exhausting, but you have to make sure you try to take care of yourself and do your academic work too. 

What’s most surprised you about BCU?

I planned ahead a lot and spent loads of time learning about the University and the course, but suddenly I found out BCU has more than one campus so you can just pop down and use the facilities whenever you like. If City South’s smaller library’s doesn’t float your boat you can just walk into Curzon any time of day and there’s more space! So that was a nice surprise!

I also didn’t realise how much the Student Union actually does, running a pub (the Eagle and Ball) and café bar (The Social Kitchen here at City South) as well as providing help and guidance on literally everything! Student Services will become your gateway to everything at uni – you can ask them anything! 

What do you wish you’d known before you started?

Definitely doing more reading helps; whether it’s bioscience or knowledge about conditions, read, read, read! It’s reassuring and it builds your knowledge base so well worth it.

On placement, don’t rely on a soggy sandwich as they get boring really quickly! Ambulance stations typically have a microwave so you can take leftovers or prepare something especially and it will make a much better placement dinner. Something healthy, tasty and filling makes your shift feel so much easier.

Are you involved in any societies?

None as yet, but I’m planning to join the Paramedic Society next year. They provide CPD and extra learning events so you have something different from uni lectures to learn from!

What’s your one piece of advice for new students starting this year?

Having a driving licence will make travelling to placements so much easier!

Apart from that, although you will be taught everything you need for exams and assignments, reading something to refresh yourself in terms of bioscience (around A Level sort of standard) will make first year easier.

Do you feel as though you’ve been supported so far throughout your studies? 

No matter what you’re struggling with, whether that’s finance, maths, referencing, finding sources, structuring work, time management or anything, go to the School office and I guarantee they will be able to direct you to a department in the University you’ve never heard of that will be able to support you.