ALUMNI PROFILE: ALEXANDRA CHAPMAN, PARAMEDIC
It was fantastic to see alumna and paramedic Alexandra Chapman when she returned to school as a volunteer to work with our Year 8 students on CPR training, something that Alexandra remembers doing herself at school. Alexandra was inspired to become a paramedic after having a difficult experience at school during Years 10 and 11 when she barely attended due to illness. This hugely impacted her GCSEs and self-confidence and, as a result, she was only able to take six GCSEs through being unwell. Alexandra aspired to have a career that helped others when they needed it most. This was her way of giving back to the NHS for the support and care she received.
Alexandra’s Q and A gives a fabulous insight into her role as a paramedic and for any students who are considering following this career path it is a must-read feature.
What did you study at sixth form?
I left Richmond Sixth Form College with an A- level in English language and an AS level in Health and Social Care. I went on to study a one-year Level 3 access course in Allied Healthcare at York College to pursue my career goals.
Where did you go to university?
I went to Sheffield Hallam University to study Paramedic Science in 2018 after being successful in several stages of applications and interviews. I qualified as a paramedic in 2021 with a first class honours degree. During my time at Sheffield, I undertook many hospital and ambulance placements during the pandemic which was a difficult time.
Since graduating where have you worked?
After my graduation I took a paramedic position at Harrogate ambulance station where today I continue to provide emergency care to North Yorkshire and the surrounding areas.
What do you enjoy or find most rewarding about being a paramedic?
I absolutely love my job and helping people when they need it most, being able to provide a sense of calm to patients in chaotic situations I find is very rewarding.
Having undertaken three years of intense training and learning, I now feel I have the life-saving skills and knowledge to be a competent paramedic.
What are the challenges of being a paramedic?
Long hours! Twelve-hour+ shifts can be tiring but you get used to them. Being a paramedic brings lots of different challenges including working in sometimes very high-stress environments which could be inside or outside, dealing with many patient groups and their families.
You have to make sure you have good mental health and wellbeing to deal with the difficult jobs because of the situations you may see when working in the role. Paramedics are very autonomous practitioners and need to be able to make quick and accurate decisions.
Can you describe a typical day as a paramedic?
Shifts usually last twelve hours plus overtime if jobs run over or we are delayed handing over at hospitals. Paramedics work all hours; days, nights, weekends, bank holidays, Christmas and your birthday.
At the start of any shift, ambulances are thoroughly checked for all equipment, drugs and restocked where needed. The vehicle is then also checked over to ensure there are no faults. We are then signed on for shift and await our first call out, notified by our radios.
No day is the same and we attend a range of call-outs sometimes including; providing advanced life support in cardiac arrests, dealing with road traffic accidents and trauma, mental health emergencies, elderly falls, maternal emergencies and paediatric emergencies as required.
What advice would you give a student who is considering being a paramedic?
Believe in yourself and be brave. If being a paramedic is something you aspire to be it can be very rewarding but it takes a lot of resilience and hard work to get there!
Make the mistakes in your training and learn from your mentors, practice educators and lecturers as they will guide you to become confident and competent in your skills. They have a wealth of experience that is invaluable to you passing the course and becoming a healthcare professional.
Persevere and stay focused on your goals.