Keep Calm - I’m a Paramedic
Jamie Shorter is a paramedic and has been working for the Ambulance Service for over 7 years. If you’ve ever considered what motivates a paramedic, or have even considered it as a career for yourself, you’ll find his article fascinating.
8th December 2014
My name is Jamie. I’m 27 years old and have been working for the Ambulance Service since 2007. I currently work as a Paramedic and a Practice Paramedic Educator (PPED).
I left school at 18 years old after completing A Levels in Health and Social Care, Science and English Literature. After much consideration I decided not to go to university and I started work with the Police force as a Detention Officer.
This exposed me to a structured working environment with a strict hierarchy. I quickly had to adapt to working a shift pattern that meant missing out on weekends, bank holidays and christmas’. It also exposed me to people; all kinds of people that I would never have met or talked to in most other professions. I found that I enjoyed working with the public, but after two and half years I felt the role was not challenging enough and lacked career progression.
My mother was working for an Ambulance Trust told me that the service was doing a recruitment drive for Ambulance Technicians. Knowing that I’ve always had an interest in health and social care and human biology she suggested I look into it and apply.
I worked as a Technician for 3 years with my crew mate and mentor Rob. I was lucky: Rob’s an excellent Paramedic. He’s very knowledgeable, extremely well experienced, has a great sense of humour and has a lovely way with people. I learnt so much from him and in inherited many of his traits.
I eventually applied for the Paramedic Foundation Degree course. The section process for this was like the X Factor.
Stage 1 = Application Process
Stage 2 = Maths Exam, English Exam, and Clinical Exam followed by a Practical Scenario.
Stage 3 = 1000 word essay and just when you think you’re there
Stage 4 = The Interview
After weeks of studying and anxiety I received an email that read: “Congratulations” and enabled my entrance into St Georges Medical School, University of London for the next 2 years.
It was a stressful time in terms of time management. I found it really tough combining full time shifts with travelling to University and study / essay writing.
The final practical scenarios were particularly nerve racking. In fact I don’t recall being as nervous before or since. But it paid off in the end: I passed and registered with the Health Care Professions Council as a Paramedic.
I now work with my crew-mate, Kate, who’s just fantastic and has become a true friend, as well as a brilliant colleague. Which is just as well because we quite often spend over 50 hours a week together.
I have also completed a Practice Paramedic Educator Course at the University of Greenwich which means I can now mentor new staff and student paramedics, passing on my experience. I’ve discovered, in fact, that this is something I really enjoy and I’m currently thinking of developing my career in the direction of Learning and Development.
In the meantime, I continue to love being a paramedic and working with Kate. It can be a very difficult and demanding job at times. I get to see the best and worst of human nature and everything in-between.
We go to people when they are often at their most vulnerable and distressed. I have had experiences no other job would offer me and stories I can dine out on for many years to come.
At times, I have been deeply touched by people. At other times I’ve laughed hysterically with and at patients, sometimes thinking “this has got to be a wind up”. I’ve met some truly fascinating people who have lived extraordinary lives.
But more importantly than all of that is that I have made my best friends in this job. Not just colleagues but life-long friends who, when times are tough, are the reason I go into work for another shift.
While the Ambulance Services across the country are facing very difficult and challenging times I strongly believe that working in the ambulance service is one of the very best jobs available.
Is being a paramedic stressful? Yes.
Is it physically and mentally exhausting? At times yes.
Do I sometimes wish I could do something else? Yes
Would I ever do anything else? No