Graduate Ms Sarah Sawyer (pictured) will now head back to the UK in June to begin her career with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service as part of the National Health Service (NHS) extended recruitment initiative.
As a graduate in the Bachelor of Paramedicine (Honours) in the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences in Bathurst, Sarah is one of several of her peers who applied for and have been offered positions with ambulance services in the UK.
Sarah grew up in the Hawkesbury Valley of NSW, but has spent much of her adult life moving. She has lived in Tasmania, Germany, London and the Central West of NSW over the past 10 years, and she said it has always been her goal to return to the UK for work.
“Paramedics in the UK have a wider scope of practice, more diverse career options and are required to develop true independence as clinicians,” she said.
“This is what drove me to apply to several NHS Trusts across the country and means that I will start my career with an increased clinical capacity than I would in Australia.
Sarah attributes her decision to pursue paramedicine to her previous time in London.
“I worked on the labour ward of a South London hospital, and frequently encountered Australian paramedics,” she said.
“We would chat often, and they encouraged me to apply to study, and gave very compelling reasons why I should give it a go.
“I applied to Charles Sturt University directly and received an offer the day after I submitted my application. And just like that, the rest is history! I very quickly packed up my life and moved from the hustle and bustle of London to the calmer beauty of Bathurst.”
Sarah said she chose to study paramedicine at Charles Sturt because she knew it was one of the first Australian universities to implement a degree for paramedicine and it had a strong reputation.
“I also loved the idea that the University is based in a rural region which really benefits its communities, and I was very much ready to be a part of small-town life (especially coming from somewhere as busy as London).
Senior Lecturer in paramedicine Ms Clare Sutton said while Charles Sturt paramedic graduates have been recruited to the UK since 2014, the National Health Service Trust (NHS) ambulance services have extended their recruitment reach.
“While the London Ambulance Service (LAS) and the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) have taken the majority of Charles Sturt paramedic graduates in the past, there has been a new initiative launched in the UK to help boost international recruitment,” she said.
“There are three ambulance services taking part, including Yorkshire, South Central Ambulance Service, and North West Ambulance Service, with the latter new to the NHS international graduate recruitment.”
Sarah already had a Bachelor of Biotechnology and Medical Research (Hons) from another university, and she said the best part of the Charles Sturt paramedicine course for her were the amazing academics, paramedics and clinical mentors who teach the degree.
“This degree is not my first, and so I cannot speak more highly of the staff who have instilled their wealth of knowledge and experience onto me,” she said.
“I have formed some incredible working friendships and rapport with the people who have taught me over the years, and I feel they have provided a level of support, advice and genuine humanity that I have never received in a university setting before.”
Sarah said while the COVID-19 pandemic has obviously been very difficult for most students, the best part of her experience as a student has been the versatility and flexibility of teaching over its duration.
“During peak isolation times, our teachers went above and beyond to ensure we were still getting the most out of our studies,” she said.
“They took equipment home and staged all sorts of weird and wonderful things for us to work through over Zoom. It kept me engaged and proved to be some of the most hilarious tutorials and practicals of my student career.”
Sarah acknowledged her mother who always loved emergency medicine and planted the seed for being a paramedic when Sarah was a child.
“She is a driving force behind my passion for the job, and I hope I’m doing her proud,” she said. “And I thank the rest of my family which has always backed me 100 per cent and put up with my many moves and the changes I have made in my career progression.”
Sarah said the opportunity to work as a paramedic in the UK gives her a broad range of career choices and future options, including to be able to be a ‘solo responder’.
“Paramedics are pretty autonomous as it is, but to work alone would be an incredible challenge full of invaluable experiences,” she said.
She also aspires to one day be a clinical educator, as she is very passionate about teaching and supporting students to achieve their best.
“I also wouldn’t mind undertaking future study as I am an avid reader and I love learning, so I definitely have not ruled out completing a PhD, master’s or affiliated health degree like nursing or midwifery. The world is my oyster, and I will never stop striving to learn more!”