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Derek Ford

Dundee, UK

BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science and Out of Hospital Care


After graduating from BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science and Out of Hospital Care, Derek has secured his dream job working with the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Since I started my working life I have always wanted to become a paramedic; my life goal was to do this when I was 40. Fast forward a few years and I’m in my 30s with a successful career as a senior manager in the NHS in Yorkshire, still on target to become a paramedic at 40. I then moved to the North East for my husband’s work and started a Master’s degree in Leadership. As part of the course I had a life coach who challenged me on my personal and professional goals. I told her about my life plan and her only response was “why 40?”. Within 2 weeks of this conversation, I had attended an open day at the University of Sunderland and applied to study Paramedic Science and Out of Hospital Care. I was accepted and started 6 weeks later at the young age of 34!

I knew the University of Sunderland had a good reputation for Paramedic Science and I was delighted that I was accepted to study here. I would thoroughly recommend studying at the University; from day one I was supported by all the lecturers in the team. I was a bit nervous being a mature student, going back to studying and thinking I’d be the oldest in the classroom (thankfully, I was the second oldest!). My advice is not to worry if you are a mature student, my mum always taught me that you can do anything you put your mind to – and I truly believe this.

I loved the variety of the course, what paramedic student doesn’t love the trauma scenarios and the quick thinking that comes with it? I also enjoyed the more academic side to the course, it kept my mind active. We were encouraged to go and read about a lot of different topics and to challenge the research out there. 

The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown hit right at the end of my first year and the faculty adapted very quickly to online lectures and continued to teach us theory, meaning that when we could get back on campus, we could concentrate on the clinical skills we had been taught. Thankfully there was no fallout from the pandemic for me and I finished my course on time.

I completed my degree in March 2022 and then we moved from Newcastle to Edinburgh. I started my paramedic role within the Scottish Ambulance Service in April 2022. I went on to complete my induction, shadowing shifts and driving course, and then started working as a paramedic in June 2022. The placements I had in my third year really gave me insight into different working environments for paramedics. My Primary Care placement really interested me and I intend to pursue this career path once I have gained more experience working on an emergency ambulance.

Every day I use the knowledge and skills that I learned at university to assess and treat patients in my care. Even the things I learned during my first few weeks of my degree still helps me to explain anatomy to patients. I remember one of the lecturers telling me that if I was ever in doubt during a patient assessment, just go back to ABC and check everything again. I use this frequently when looking after people.

I have loved my three years at university – it certainly hasn’t been easy, but it has definitely been worth it to give me my dream job.”

Published 30 June 2022

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