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Fire-fighter, Police Officer, Train Driver. I think every young boy wants to do these at some point or another ‘when he grows up’. I know I did. Until Grade 4, that is.
When I was in Grade 4 at Warrnambool East Primary School, my class got to go outside one day and have a look through an ambulance. The Ambulance Service had organised for two Paramedics to come to our school and show us through one of their ambulances. They came up through the car park with the lights and sirens going, and then opened up the back and got various pieces of equipment out. I was hooked. I then got to be the ‘patient’, with air-splints on both of my arms and a ride around on the stretcher. They told us about the role of a Paramedic and what they can do for people who need emergency care, and I knew from this point on that this was what I wanted to do when I grew up.
Throughout the rest of primary school and secondary school, my career goal never changed. When I was in secondary school I wrote letters to the local Ambulance Station, had ‘tours’ through the ambulances, and spoke to Paramedics about their jobs. I also researched the position on the internet and contacted Universities to obtain further information about studying to become a Paramedic and entering the profession. The vast majority of people I spoke to recommended completing a degree such as nursing prior to becoming a Paramedic, so, in Year 10, I decided that I would study nursing. I completed 2 work experience placements in a hospital setting (as a ‘Nurses Aid’), successfully completed my VCE studies and was accepted to study Nursing at Deakin University in Warrnambool.
Volunteering with St John Ambulance
Despite the full-time study and work commitments, I never lost sight of one day becoming a Paramedic. To get more of an insight into this career, I joined St John Ambulance as a volunteer First Aid Officer in my first year of nursing. Attending training every week, completing scenarios and going to various public events, shows, sprint car races, and so on really got me interested even more in pre-hospital care. I got to see many injuries or incidents “as they happened” and I considered that experience invaluable in my progression toward becoming a Paramedic. I was a volunteer for just under 3 years.
Graduate Nurse Program
After completing my Nursing degree, I was offered a position in Barwon Health’s Graduate Nurse Program, which I immediately accepted. The one year program consisted of full-time work in an acute hospital, with 3 rotations. I began my nursing career on a ward which specialised in Acute Care of the Elderly (the ACE Unit), followed by a stint in Plastics, Vascular & ENT surgery, then finally ending my Graduate Nurse Program in the Emergency Department – the one place I really wanted to work! During this time, I was also looking into how to study the Paramedic course, attending information sessions and having numerous course guides and brochures posted to me. After considering the many options available, I applied for the Bachelor of Health Science (Paramedic) at Victoria University to commence in 2007. One month before completing my Graduate Nurse Program I found out that I had been accepted into Victoria University, so when my full-time contract at Barwon Health finished I transferred to the casual list in the Emergency Department. You may be wondering why I applied for the Paramedic course so soon after completing my Nursing Degree – I was told by many sources that entry to the Paramedic Course/Ambulance Service was extremely competitive and it often took a couple applications to get in, so as you could imagine, I was ecstatic to be offered a place after my first application!
I am now in my 3rd and final year of the Paramedic course, and have worked almost every weekend since starting the course in the Geelong Hospital’s Emergency Department as a Registered Nurse. I have gained invaluable knowledge throughout my somewhat short Nursing career, and I have Deakin to thank for that for teaching me the basics and helping me finish my first degree and register as a nurse. I have done well with my Paramedic studies so far, and, after sending in my job application forms at the end of 2008 when applications opened, I have been officially offered employment as a Graduate Paramedic with Ambulance Victoria starting in May this year. The remainder of my studies will be competed online, and I am extremely grateful and proud to have finally (well, almost!) achieved my childhood dream of becoming a Paramedic.
So what advice do I have?
If you have a dream, stick to it. It may seem like a lot of hard work at the beginning, but trust me; it is so worth it at the end.
Do things that really show you’re interested and make you stand out. People always say that extra-curricular activities like volunteering look good on your résumé. That they do, but the experience, satisfaction and knowledge you can gain from them is invaluable.
Finally, if you need help or are ever unsure, ask. Whether it be at Uni or in the workplace, you’re never alone. There is always someone in the same position as you and there is always someone to ask for help – whether it be a supervisor, colleague, or careers counsellor.
If your heart is set on a dream job, go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.