[Note: This is a guest post by Charlotte. Stay tuned for more articles on Student Paramedic life in the future!]
I’m currently in the second year of the honours degree in Paramedic Science at Hertfordshire University. This course is 4 years long as opposed to the foundation degree which is only 3 years in length. The main difference is that the honours course includes a full year of employment in year 3, before returning to university in year 4 to complete a research project. Students on the foundation degree spend years 2 and 3 in part time employment, attending university in blocks to complete their modules. There are advantages and disadvantages to both courses depending on your learning style and the perspective you have of the higher education route into the paramedic profession. Even though the students on both courses are taught together in their first year at Hertfordshire, the entry requirements differ, and it is worth being completely clear on these before completing any applications.
I thought it would be quite useful to share my experiences of the first year, as starting university on any course can be quite daunting, and knowing what to expect can help settle the nerves a bit. I was lucky the year I started because most of us had joined a facebook group and arranged to meet up for a drink the weekend before we were due to start in lectures. This way we already had some familiar faces to attempt to navigate our way around campus with. Our first week was spent in the classroom without having proper lectures, but being introduced to all the staff and the modules they taught on. They soon sent us off on a “treasure hunt” in groups to find all the important places we needed to know around campus, such as the gym, the skills labs and the coursework submission office (sad times) to name a few. We even got a trip down to the LAS training building to meet all the staff and get measured up for our uniform, all very exciting on day 3 of the year! My favourite part of induction week was getting the opportunity to meet the 2nd year students, who had prepared a slideshow of photos from their first year. This showed us that we were in for a hard year, but could still expect a lot of fun out of it; whether this would take place as part of our skills training or mainly down the student union would be up to us…
Despite developing the traditional freshers’ flu in my induction week, I was looking forward to getting started in proper lectures. It felt like a lifetime since I had done any work due to my extended summer following the A level exams, but getting back into the routine of things wasn’t too bad. The first module we started focused on the behavioural and sociological aspects of paramedic practice, and involved working in groups to create a poster on communication. This was really useful as it forced us to work with people we hadn’t yet spoken to in the previous week, and in fact 2 members of my group ended up being my housemates for this year. This module also included an essay on the psychology and sociology of pain, which was important in clarifying that people are very different in the pain they experience and their coping mechanisms.
Another module we had to complete in the first year focused on the anatomy and physiology of the human body. This was split into 2 parts and had 2 exams and a lab report to complete. I thought this was the hardest module in year 1 because it required a lot of hard work outside of the lectures and we needed to know the information in a lot of depth for the exams.
Come back to the site next week for part 2 of my article about the first year of the degree.