BSc Paramedic Science - Frequently Asked Questions 2018/19 - Part 1

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that I received in the academic year 2018/19. I am so lucky to have such an interested and enthusiastic Instagram follower base, so this is where these questions come from as it is the best way to get hold of me! If you have any questions, please always feel free to send me a message!

What year are you in and where do you study?
Originally I was going to keep this on the down-low, however as every university is different it is probably quite helpful to let you guys know. I study at Anglia Ruskin University and I am now in Year 3, although these questions were asked when I was in Year 2!

How do your ambulance placements work? Do you get paid?
With the university route, you do not get paid unless you do a sandwich (placement) year, and I am not sure if any universities do that anymore (I know University of Hertfordshire used to but does not anymore). As you may not have your blue-light driving qualification and you are not employed by the trust, you are not covered to drive the ambulances which makes you a third man (or second man if you are in an RRV). My university sends us out in 5 week blocks, where we do not attend university in these 5 weeks. During those 5 weeks, you will have a Practice Assessment Document (or your university equivalent) which you will need to get signed regularly to prove different competencies. We get some choice as to where we get placed, but this is minimal. Some universities offer placement funding, so if your household income is below a certain threshold you may get your travel fees paid to you, however the Government does not support travel for student paramedics at all, and this is something one of my lecturers is trying to change, keep your eyes peeled for a future post on this!

How do you manage university and the rest of your life? You make it look easy!
I look back to my first year and I have no idea how I did it. I was working full time hours whilst also being at university or on placement. I managed to get all my work handed in on time and did pretty well. I do struggle with university marking as some of my assignments come back with outstanding marks, and others come back with not the best marks, and I am not really sure where I am going wrong really. I do look at university as just the next step to my goal, and although I would love to come out with a first, sometimes it seems like an unrealistic goal to me as although I try my hardest it is not always good enough. I set my sights a bit lower to make me feel less stressed and anxious, although I still put in 100% effort into everything, and try to aim for the highest mark possible.
So how do I do it? I start my essays early and usually spend the final week editing them, cutting words and making sure they still make sense. I prepare before my lectures, so when I go in, the knowledge is not brand new and it has a chance of sinking in. That worked really well for my patient assessment module in my second year. I work when I can, I choose what is worth it (so short hours and low money is not worth it in my books as it takes me too long to travel and wastes too much time) and if I have to be poor for a month because it will benefit my university work, that is what I do. Unfortunately university has definitely been at the detriment of my hobbies, but I look forward to the time I do get for them, and I look forward to being able to spend more time on them when I graduate. It has also been at the detriment of my mental health, but I do just try my best.
University is a juggling act, and you will not always get it right. You need to prioritise your life, university being very important along with paying your bills, and the rest should come after, however you do still need to make time for yourself, so I would suggest setting aside blocks of time in your week where you go out, go to the gym or just do something where you are not thinking of uni. University work does not need to be your whole life, and nor should it, just muddle your way until you find something that works for you and makes you happy.

How bad is the work intensity?
This definitely varies among different modules and different points in the year, which is why I liken it to a roller-coaster. It is definitely harder than college as the theory is harder and there is more to know, however it is easier as it is more relevant to what you want to do and you will probably enjoy most of it! At the start of the module the work will be minimal, if you get ahead with pre-reading, this will really help. During the module it will get a bit harder, with pre-reading to do and also going through past notes to try and remember some of it. At the end, the work in university will lighten, but this is because you are likely to have some kind of essay, presentation, exam or practical assessment. How hard this is depends on how hard you have worked during the rest of the term. If you have been keeping up to date on notes and studying a bit, this will be much easier than cramming in the final week before an exam or pulling a couple of all-nighters to get that essay written.
Please do not think you can write an essay in a night, and do not think 'challenge accepted' as it may come out great, but it also may not and singular essays and exams are normally 100% of your module mark which means it can make a huge difference to your classification at the end.

How much time do you spend at university for lectures? How much independent study should you do?
This will definitely vary throughout your time at university and which university you are attending. If you are bothered by how much time you spend at uni, definitely ask some of the current students at an open day. I know some universities have you in everyday for a couple of hours, and some (like mine) have you in a few days for large chunks. This is definitely something to investigate if it will matter to you, and something to consider when making your choice.
I chose a university that had us in for large chunks only a couple of times a week as I live away from university and did not want to travel in every day, and I work so this gives me free days to work and study at home as I am not fussed about studying in the library. In first year, my university had us in approximately 3.5 days a week, so 3 six hour days, and 1 three hour day. In my second year we were in approximately 3 days a week and in my third year the timetable looks as though we will be in roughly 1 six hour day a week. As each year goes on, you need to do more independent study. I think the best way to think of uni is to consider it as a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 full time job, where you take an hour lunch break. Include your time at uni in this, the rest of the time you should be studying, give or take a few hours. If you look at it this way, you will have enough time to get stuff done. This will also make you more efficient and productive as you have an end to the day where you can then do your hobbies or relax. If you do paid work during the day on one of these days, consider studying at the weekend instead. Just do the best you can, and do not beat yourself up if you have a bad day!

Thank you for reading! I am going to end this here and follow up with a part two at some point! If you do have any more questions for me, head over to my instagram which is @theuniversityblogger and send me a message. Looking forward to hearing from you soon!


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