Credit: Charles Sturt University Communications

What First-Year Paramedicine taught me

I know all too well about how daunting the first year of uni can be with the whole “suddenly becoming an actual adult with proper responsibilities” thing and concerns about a brand new social circle, a fresh start from high school. However, one thing was pretty consistent last year and that was my paramedicine degree.

It’s consistent in the way that there’s a decent chance you’ll be at uni for a minimum of 4 days out of the week (and that’s with skipping lectures) but it’s also consistent in the fact you’ll always be learning new skills in the realm of very scary first aid, all the while feeling weirdly underprepared for handling a stethoscope of all things. You’ll also experience feeling way more responsible medically speaking than a 1st year should be, something not helped by your dorm mates coming to you for all their medical concerns that you’ll only be able to respond with “I don’t know, I’m not a doctor”.  

For an actual rundown of what happened this past year or what could happen this year, read your subject outline – or don’t (I never did). Anyway, roughly speaking, the average week will start off with a bunch of lectures, usually beginning with classes like human bioscience (aka high school bio on crack), a class that will only run for that semester and then lectures about your work placement, as well as your actual clinical practice skills-based class (my personal favourite subject). You’ll probably have a lab prac somewhere in the middle of the week, where you get to play doctor and dissect a few things, as well as doing other general biology-based pracs. Finally, at the end of the week, will be your pracs and tutorials for your clinical skills – which are undoubtedly the best part of the course.

These classes are my favourite because they’re the classes that you actually get to start utilising learnt skills (which in 1st year, are a bit limited, unfortunately) but they’re still heaps of fun. The tutorials are run by the lecturers and are basically the building blocks of learning actual skills and equipment and you’ll use this knowledge in your pracs, which are run by Peer Tutors, who are selected students in the year above you. 

The stuff that’s actually done in pracs varies. Initially, it’ll be manual handling and basic vitals, where you’ll spend hours messing around with stretchers and specialised equipment, as well as learning when a person is healthy or not based on their observations. You’ll also learn how to do focused assessments on the body (neurological, cardiorespiratory and abdominal) and how to treat them to an extent, plus learning how to act and potentially reverse a cardiac arrest. The best bit is Trauma Practice (which is a class name you can concern your friends with). In that, you’ll get to actually see fake blood and terrible injuries which you’ll be weirdly excited for (don’t tell your patient that). You’ll also get to use your first proper drug – methoxyflurane, also known as the green whistle and a bunch of other equipment used in specialised trauma scenarios.

Admittedly, this is a very condensed summary of paramedicine and I’ve cut a fair bit out. But I hope this summary helps any 1st years who are reading this get a quick rundown of what could happen in their 1st year!