After a shoulder injury forced him out of the Leicester Tigers’ academy programme, Samuel Huczmann made a sharp change of direction to become a paramedic. Sam claims that he was never particularly academic, achieving mainly C grades in his GCSE exams. He credits the Access to Higher Education course at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College’s Wigston campus as the ‘turning point’ as he looks back over three years with East Midlands Ambulance Service during which time, he has already delivered six babies.
Sam, 25 from Leicester, was keen to train as a paramedic but knew that he would have to get a degree first. After researching local colleges, Sam found the support and encouragement he was looking for at NWSLC’s Wigston campus and his studies went from strength to strength.
“I found the College very flexible and supportive and the tutors are highly knowledgeable and really know their stuff. I decided to take up the Access programme because it was suitable for the precise job role that I was aiming for. The A Level equivalents were more general and less appropriate for me. The Access pathway I chose was aimed firmly at health professionals and the modules were good matches for the skills I needed to build.
“As well as learning about human biology, I also gained skills in research and IT so that I was able to fulfil the academic requirements of the course. It was quite intensive, and I had to work hard but the programme is flexible and allowed me time to join the Army Reserves as part of 222 Medical Squadron, Leicester where I took part in training and successfully fulfilled the combat medical technician role.”
Sam enjoyed the learning process as part of his Access course because tutors brought the theory to life with practical activities and models. He succeeded in achieving the Distinction grades that he needed to progress on to university.
Sam said, “At first I planned to stay close to home to do my degree but having explored my options, I concluded that the best course of its kind was at the University of the West of England in Bristol. During the application process, it became clear that universities are receptive to Access students for the paramedic science degree because they have already achieved research skills that allow them to step up seamlessly from Level 3 to 4. I did well in my interview because I had a lot of life experience to offer which made me a better candidate.”
After graduating, Sam secured a job as a paramedic with East Midlands Ambulance Service within a few weeks of moving back to the region. Based in Northampton, Sam is now undertaking an MSc in Advanced Clinical Practice and is thinking about continuing his studies at PhD level in the future.
Sam said, “I have a very calm personality and always knew that I would be good at coping in traumatic situations. I love the medical aspect of my job when I need to apply the diagnostics to figure out whether patients are suffering with infections, or at risk of sepsis. I also work alongside several agencies including the Police and Fire & Rescue Service, as well as safeguarding teams and GPs on cases that require more long-term intervention.
“Paramedics are being targeted more and more to take on primary care and urgent care duties to bolster the shortage of GPs within the NHS. The next step for me will be to get qualified as a specialist, and then advanced, paramedic so that I will be in great position to take advantage of an increasingly broad career path.”
Sam has returned to the Wigston campus to provide students of uniformed public services with the benefit of his experience and to get involved with a major incident exercise.
He said, “I never thought that I would get this far in education. Even my family are surprised at how far I’ve gone. I would definitely recommend this programme at NWSLC and I’m really grateful to the College for setting me on the right path.”