The ‘COVID cohort’

02 August 2021
Volume 13 · Issue 8


With the pandemic having a significant impact on student paramedics, Mahdiyah Bandali reflects on what this means for newly qualified paramedics and how they can be supported

The arrival of the ‘COVID cohort’ of newly qualified paramedics due to graduate this year marks a new generation in paramedicine. The COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted students and their experiences of university life: social gatherings, face-to-face lectures and ease of meeting like-minded individuals all came to a halt and practice placements for student paramedics from 2020 onwards were cancelled or delayed. Placements are of particular importance to student paramedics as they compose a third to half of their degree: they learn the true nature of the job, understand how a medical issue can present and weigh up whether they can see themselves working as a paramedic in the future.

Alongside my frontline role, I have been a visiting lecturer and have spoken to many students regarding the ways they are coping through this time. While I was fortunate enough to only have my final placement cancelled due to COVID, when I was already confident in my abilities and ready to take on my new role as a paramedic, the current and preceding cohorts had a large proportion of their practice placement time removed. For current first- and second-year students, many said they lacked motivation to progress with the course. While placement is now back up and running for them, they feel as if they are very behind and, despite having more than the normal amount of practice or theory sessions, do not feel prepared to assess patients without relying on their crewmates to guide them. Similarly, for soon-to-be graduates in their third year, some voiced concerns about qualifying with a limited experience and lack of exposure, having lost placement at a pivotal time. Students across all 3 years expressed a general impression of exhaustion; missing out on the social aspect of university life, having inadequate time to get to know other members of their course and limited access to resources from university departments has caused students to feel overworked, stressed and lacking needed support.

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