[Note: This is a guest post by Charlotte. If you missed it, make sure you read Part 1]
Probably most peoples’ favourite modules and those that readers will be most interested in are the practical ones included in our first year timetable. The first of these is the skills module which includes the obvious aspects of being a student paramedic such as basic life support, defibrillation, oxygen therapy and choking protocols. It also goes on to cover intramuscular injections and setting up a nebuliser. These skills are tested at the end of the year through practical examinations, but the module also required us to write a reflective essay about something we saw on our observational placement (which I will come onto in a bit) and keep a mini portfolio. Our other practical module last year was patient assessment; if we weren’t already comfortable with our classmates this module would soon overcome that as we were required to do secondary surveys and all sorts of other observations on each other. As with the skills module, a practical exam was scheduled for the end of the year and we needed to write an essay about the systematic assessment of a patient. I found doing some observational shifts with Lysa very helpful for writing this.
Even though most of our time was spent at university, we had a 3 week block with the LAS before Christmas. We were split up into groups and spent a week with the tutors on a scenario week, which gave us a great opportunity to practice the skills we had already learnt in our lectures and to start to piece different aspects of treatment together. Another week was used to start our driving course, which is a total of 3 weeks. On the honours degree we don’t do the rest of our driving course until this summer, but the foundation students needed to complete theirs before starting employment last summer. The final and most anticipated week of the Christmas LAS block was a week of observational placement. It gave us the opportunity to see the reality of what a paramedic actually does, and the type of calls the ambulance service commonly responds to. One of the first calls my crew went to was a cardiac arrest, and I was faced with the reality of death in the job straight away, a good and bad point depending how you look at it. Most of the other calls we went to were minor accidents and illnesses, which is an accurate representation of the majority of ambulance work. In addition to our Christmas skills block, we also had time with the LAS at Easter and in the summer, which predominantly focused on skills development and scenario work. During this time we also did a training day at the London Underground, had some major incident training and had a conflict management day.
On the whole, year one of my course was really interesting and enjoyable, but was over way too fast. It is crucial to ensure you are confident with everything you cover in the first year because it forms the foundation of what you cover in year 2, and every time you go to a patient you will need to rely on the basics first. Even though it may not feel like it when you start your training, before you know it you will be out treating patients rather than watching other people do it, a very scary thought!