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‘Phenomenal results’ achieved by first paramedic degree apprenticeship group

Date: 11 July 2023

Celebration of the first cohort to complete the University of Cumbria Paramedic Degree Apprenticeship

The first cohort of East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) staff to qualify as paramedics through a new apprenticeship degree programme with the University of Cumbria have been celebrated at a special ceremony after achieving ‘phenomenal results’.

The group of 20, who graduate at the University of Cumbria later this month, were presented with a certificate to mark their achievements on completing the Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship Paramedic Programme at a ceremony at The Athenaeum in Bury St Edmunds.

Over 80 per cent on the programme achieved an upper-class honours degree with five of the group achieving a first and 11 achieving a 2:1. 

EEAST was one of seven ambulance services to sign up to the new BSc (Hons) apprenticeship paramedic degree course in 2021. The course was devised by the University of Cumbria for existing patient-facing staff, such as emergency care assistants, ambulance technicians and associate ambulance practitioners.

The course takes two years to complete, compared to three for a traditional degree in paramedic science, and allows staff to continue to work in frontline roles at EEAST while studying.

This opens an important career progression pathway for staff who want to become a paramedic but feel that university is not the right option for their circumstances. 

Katie Burst, Head of Education & Learner Experience at EEAST, said the success will mean more future paramedics qualifying through this partnership with the University of Cumbria.

Katie said:

“We are all delighted and proud of the success achieved by the first group on this new apprentice paramedic degree programme with the University of Cumbria.

“The feedback on the course has been excellent and the partnership with the University of Cumbria has worked so well.

“The Trust sees this programme as an important pathway for developing our staff to becoming paramedics and we are fully committed to expanding availability.”

Hanna Stevens, principal lecturer in paramedic apprenticeships at the University of Cumbria, said:

“The first group of students all worked exceptionally hard and they have produced phenomenal results, with 80 per cent achieving an upper class degree honours.

“That is testament to the partnership working from all involved who have helped make this course such a success.

“We look forward to working with EEAST on this exciting educational pathway for many years to come.”

Lee Sweetlove, 36, a student on the course, said:

“I found the course really challenging but also very rewarding. I describe it as hiking up a steep mountain but at the top the views are worth the effort.

“We are now registered healthcare professionals, and it has opened up so many career pathways, so it is a really exciting time to be a paramedic.

“I always wanted to progress my career and become a paramedic, expanding my skillset to be able to help more patients. I worked for the Trust as a technician initially and, if I had decided to take the traditional route, I would have had to spend three years at university and pay for that course.

“By gaining this qualification through the Trust and the apprenticeship pathway, you are still able to earn a salary. I was able to get married and we were able to buy our first house together while I was on the course.

“For me, this was definitely the better route. I have built lots of confidence and experience as I have been mainly working on the ambulance with a mentor and putting my university learning into practice.’’

The Trust is currently running three courses on this apprentice paramedic degree each year and the pathway is expected to provide the Trust with 500 newly qualified paramedics over the next seven years.  

  • Summary:

    The first cohort of East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) staff to qualify as paramedics through a new apprenticeship degree programme with the University of Cumbria have been celebrated at a special ceremony after achieving ‘phenomenal results’.

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