Two-hundred paramedic apprentices have graduated from University of Cumbria to an exceptionally high standard, with the majority achieving upper-class and first-class degrees.
The results are a testament to the hard work of the 200 graduates, who all work for seven ambulance trusts located across England and the Isle of Wight that partner with University of Cumbria to up-skill front line ambulance staff to fully qualified paramedics in two years.
University of Cumbria devised the paramedic science degree apprenticeship and now works with most English ambulance trusts, delivering more than 600 trained paramedics for the NHS workforce annually.
The university produces fully qualified paramedics more quickly than the traditional undergraduate route and allows them to continue working within the NHS.
As graduate Lucille Starkey from South Central Ambulance Trust explained, this flexibility enabled her to strike the right balance between working and studying.
She said: “I could have done one of the other university degrees, but I chose to wait for the apprenticeship because of the ability to mix my full-time work, receiving a wage, and studying alongside to transition from associate ambulance practitioner to a fully-fledged paramedic.
“It was the right balance for me, that allowed me to get the full degree, the BSc, which I’m really proud to have, and helped me to consolidate my existing skills from my role while moving forward.”
As well as their fantastic results, four apprentices were awarded prizes for high achievements over the course of their studies.
They included Lucille, who was made Scholar of the Year for achieving consistently high grades, and Lee Knowles from London Ambulance Service, recipient of the Most Inspiring Student award for the help he provided to his peers.
Lee, 50, is also an example of how the paramedic science degree apprenticeship can open up a career in this area to more people who do not have a grounding in higher education, or who have families to support, as they earn while they learn.
He was a former driving instructor but joined the ambulance service after volunteering for a charity in Lincolnshire that responded to 999 calls in the community. He started as an emergency medicine technician before proceeding with the paramedic apprenticeship.
Lee said: “I got my paramedic registration this month as I turned 50. At my age, to be given the opportunity to go back to university, debt-free, was amazing. It has opened many doors for me.
“I left school at 16, with good enough GCSEs. But 30 years ago, I would have never thought I would have joined an ambulance service and even possibly become a qualified paramedic.”
Lee continued: “A quarter of the way through the course, I was diagnosed as dyslexic, the tutors picked it up and I got extra help and time to complete assignments. The course was a hard slog, but it’s been very worthwhile, and I’m very proud.”
Check out the paramedic science degree apprenticeship over on the university’s website to find out more about it.
You can also find out more about the apprenticeship route to becoming a fully qualified paramedic on the London Ambulance Service website.