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Conor Swannick - Paramedic Science

Conor grew up in Portsmouth (and many other places) as his parents were in the Royal Navy.  He thought that a career as a nurse in the military was the route for him, until he met our Paramedic Science team!

"I originally came to an open day at Birmingham City University when I was looking into studying Nursing through the military, and whilst looking around the university I spotted the Paramedic Science Department. Since it was an area that had always interested me, I went and spoke to the team and began to look into it further.

I was keen to pursue a career in healthcare and was really impressed by how passionate and helpful the staff were. I ended up choosing Birmingham City University as the staff were interested in me as an individual and seemed keen to help me get on to the programme.

The BCU paramedic community

I’ve really enjoyed the way our cohort interacts and gets along. Everyone is keen to help and support each other which makes the time in university really enjoyable, every lecture and lesson is fun. The staff are friendly, approachable and always there to help too. Given the nature of the course it's always important to know that the staff are able to support you whenever it is needed, as it can be challenging, but their support is really appreciated.

The best part of the course though is getting to go on placement and spend time working with the ambulance service and my crew, meeting patients and getting to help those in need. It is great to be able to spend time on the road getting to see what the role truly entails.

Over my time on the degree, it's been really exciting to see all the changes the course has undergone over the last few years. The university works closely with the students and uses the feedback from the students to improve the course and cater for what the current students want.  It has been great to see the additions to the department including simulation equipment, and the interactive classroom dedicated to the student paramedics, as well as extra simulation days and events.  This has all helped to strengthen the paramedic student community.

Placements

During our time on the course we undertake all of our work placements with the Ambulance Service which allows us to have a realistic experience of what the profession involves once qualified.

However, the staff have also worked hard to get us new placement opportunities in local hospitals and care facilities, which has been a brilliant additional experience. Being able to work alongside Advanced Clinical Practitioners (ACPs) in the emergency department was particularly useful for me as it allowed me to use the advanced examination skills we learned during our final year of training. We were the first BSc Paramedic students that the hospital had allowed to come and work with the ACPs so it was particularly beneficial for all involved.

Getting involved

Like many other students training for a job in health care, the balance of completing your placement shifts as well as keeping on top of your university studies is very demanding. You do have to constantly work hard but you get out what you put in.

When I'm not studying, I work for the university on occasion and help at Open Days, getting to meet potential students and running demonstrations. I won Student of the Month for my work with the Paramedic Science Department across various Open Days over the last year. I was really proud and touched to have been awarded this.

I also work for a variety of companies that provide medical cover at different events ranging from concerts in stadiums to small venues, racing events and festivals. I also do some bank work for the NHS which is great as it allows me to see different areas of healthcare. All of these roles allow me to put into practice the skills and knowledge that I have developed at university.

Another part of my university life has been getting involved with the Paramedic Society (which is run by students for the students). It's been a real life line for many of us and a great way for the different years to interact. The society run everything from training events to socials for people to meet up, and the termly Catch-Up Cafe is a great initiative. The cafe is a great opportunity for students to meet for free coffee and cake and generally just take some time away from placements and lectures, allowing time for us to either relax or talk through anything that has been worrying us. It has been really popular and has proven beneficial for a lot of people, me included!

Facilities

I really like the different facilities available on campus. Having the ability to go to S.P.A.C.E (Skills Practice and Care Enhancement) in my own time and practice my skill drills (with my peers and without the lecturers watching us) is brilliant as it allows me the flexibility to hone my abilities.

It is great to be on a campus that specialises in healthcare. It provides a wide variety of resources and it is nice to be able to interact with other healthcare students. It's always fun to meet other students in S.P.A.C.E and discover what they've been studying. It also gives you the chance to help each other, as someone could be struggling with something that you feel confident about, and can then help them.

What the future holds

As this will be my second degree after finding something that I truly wish to do, I would like to spend a few years enjoying the role and everything it has to offer. Eventually I will look to develop my career further as a paramedic, maybe training to become an Emergency Care Practitioner or even going into teaching, but for now I will be more than happy to stick to front line work once qualified, helping those that need it.

My advice to further students

Work hard: Make sure you give all areas of study the attention they deserve as eventually everything you get taught will link together.

Have fun: Make sure you enjoy your time in university, the friends and memories you make there will last forever.

Take advantage of it all: The course puts on scenario days that are a great opportunity to practise your skills as well as see how other students work. These are not only really beneficial but great fun, whether they are held at the university or simulation centres with actors, artificial houses, shops, road traffic collisions and public transport vehicles."