Competition for paramedic roles is fiercely competitive. For every opportunity, you can expect that there will be hundreds of other applicants fighting for the same position as you. With this in mind, it’s essential that you can give yourself the maximum advantage when applying. A great way to do this, is to complete a paramedic science degree. Completing a paramedic science degree won’t just give you an advantage over the competition, but it will also allow you to experience what it’s like working as a paramedic, and give you essential practice for the future. In this blog, we’ll give you some tips on how to secure your spot on a paramedic science degree, largely focusing upon the interview.
The Paramedic Science Degree
Students who wish to enrol on a paramedic science degree course will be required to pass a selection process that includes a numeracy and literacy test, a fitness test and an interview. In relation to the fitness test, candidates are usually required to undertake the multi-stage fitness test, or bleep test, as it is otherwise known.
It is the interview that the majority of candidates are concerned with, as they need to successfully convince the panel that they should choose them to embark on the paramedic science degree course. The interview panel will normally consist of a university course tutor and a paramedic. The member of the panel who is from the university will be primarily interested in assessing whether or not you have the ability to successfully pass the course, while the paramedic will be more concerned with whether or not you possess the right skills to become a paramedic.
In the build up to the paramedic science degree interview you should concentrate your preparation on the following main areas:
- Preparing answers to potential interview questions.
- How you would react to certain emergency incidents.
- The role of a paramedic and the ambulance service.
- Why you want to become a paramedic.
- Why you think you can successfully pass the course.
- Issues that are affecting the NHS and the ambulance service at that particular time.
In order to help you prepare more effectively, we will now take a look at each area in detail and, more importantly, the reasons why the panel want to know this information.
How you would react to certain emergency incidents
As you can imagine, part of the role of the paramedic is having the ability to remain calm during extremely testing incidents. The interview panel, especially the paramedic, will be interested to see how you react to certain emergency incidents. The majority of students who apply to become a paramedic will have hopefully never witnessed a fatality, so therefore they will need to provide an explanation of how they believe they would act in such a situation.
When preparing for this type of question think about how you would react in any of the following scenarios:
How do you think you would react if you were the first person to arrive at the scene of a serious road traffic collision?
Things to consider:
- It is important that paramedics remain calm at all times whilst attending emergency incidents. If they are calm then they are in control and they will therefore be able to perform their duties competently and professionally.
- Whilst attending road traffic collisions paramedics and other members of the emergency services need to carry out a ‘dynamic risk assessment’ (DRA). In basic terms, the DRA is the management of risk through a continuous process of identifying hazards, assessing risks, taking action to eliminate or reduce risk, monitoring and reviewing, all in the rapidly changing circumstances of the operational incident. It is their responsibility to ensure that they and other people at the scene are safe.
- Patient care is vitally important. Assessing the needs of each of the casualties and providing the appropriate level of care would be the task of the paramedic.
As a paramedic you receive a 999 call to an incident at a nightclub. A man has been attacked and his attacker has left the scene. What would you do?
Things to consider:
- One of the first priorities, in addition to patient care, would be to request the attendance of the police. They would need to attend in order to gather details of the alleged attack and also to provide you with support and protection whilst you treat the injured.
- Again, you would need to carry out a dynamic risk assessment of the scene to ensure that you are safe.
- At all times you must remain calm. During incidents where alcohol is involved, those under the influence may act in an aggressive, violent or confrontational manner and you would need to ensure that your exit is maintained at all times.
- During incidents of this nature you may also be required to calm people down and create space so that you can attend to the casualty. During such incidents onlookers tend to gather, which can impede your ability as a paramedic to treat the patient.
The role of a Paramedic and the Ambulance Service
During your training, you will have read and absorbed a large amount of information that is relevant to the role of a paramedic and the ambulance service. This information will be sufficient to prepare you for job-related questions that may come up during the paramedic science degree interview.
Things to consider:
- Take a look at the website of the ambulance service or NHS trust that you are interested in joining if you successfully pass the paramedic science degree course. What does it say about the role and what does it say about the ambulance service?
- Consider learning the vision and the values of the service. The panel will be impressed if you are able to recite these.
- Try to arrange a visit to your local ambulance station and ask the paramedics about their role and what it involves.
Why you want to become a paramedic
Only you will know the reason why you want to become a paramedic. When considering your response to questions based around this theme, try to think about the qualities of a paramedic that you are able to match. Keep away from reasons such as salary, pension and the opportunity to drive around in an ambulance with the blue lights flashing!
The positive aspects of the role include:
- The chance to make a difference.
- Working with a highly professional team of people.
- The opportunity to work within a diverse workforce and a diverse community.
- Learning new skills and obtaining qualifications.
- Working in a job where no two days are the same – the variety of the job.
Why you think you can successfully pass the course
Those candidates who can demonstrate they have previous history of successfully completing difficult tasks and training courses are far more likely to stick with the degree course and pass it. During the interview the panel may ask you to explain why you think you can successfully pass the paramedic science degree course. During your response it is important that you can provide details of where you have previously worked hard in order to gain a qualification or complete a training course. You will most probably have studied hard previously to pass either your GCSEs or A-Levels and this evidence should form the basis of your response.
The panel will also want to see a demonstration of enthusiasm and passion from you, as this will provide further evidence of your commitment to successfully completing the course.
Questions of this nature are usually designed to separate those candidates who are genuinely interested and passionate about becoming a paramedic from those who are simply going through the motions and have not put any real thought into their chosen course or career path.
Things to consider:
- Provide details of where you have previously studied over a long period of time and obtained some form of qualification.
- Demonstrate a level of passion and enthusiasm for the course and for the role of a paramedic.
- Provide evidence of where you have gone out of your way to find out about the course and also the role of a paramedic.
Issues that are affecting the NHS and the ambulance service at that particular time
At any particular time there will be certain issues affecting the NHS. For example, at the time of writing this guide one of the most important issues affecting the NHS is that of ‘swine flu’ and how the government and the NHS aim to tackle the problem and prevent its spread.
The reason why the panel ask this type of question is to assess whether or not you have a genuine interest in the NHS and the Ambulance Service.
Make sure you keep up to date with current affairs that are affecting the NHS, the role of a paramedic and the Ambulance Service.
Things to consider:
- In the build up to your interview visit websites and chat forums on the internet to learn what the current topical issues are that are affecting the NHS.
- Consider subscribing to a paramedic journal or magazine, as these will usually contain up-to-date issues and current affairs.