Paramedic Placement in Alice Springs

Student Reflection

Course: 

Bachelor of Paramedicine

Placement Location:

Alice Springs

Year of Placement:

2022

Before entering the Bachelor of Paramedicine, working rural and remotely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities was something I’ve always experience. When I found out my second-year placement would be in Alice Springs, I was elated but also very nervous as I had never been to Alice Springs before, nor had I travelled solo for this amount of time. Furthermore, this was my first clinical paramedic placement and hence, I was unsure what I was about to experience. 

During my 4 weeks of relocation to Alice Springs, I spent 3 weeks on the road with St John’s Ambulance NT, a weekend volunteering with St John’s Ambulance NT at the Finke Dessert Race, and 3 days with Purple House, a holistic care dialysis unit for people from country needing to be in Alice Springs for treatment. Along with all of these clinical activities, I also made time to explore the extraordinary surroundings of Alice Springs including the East and West McDonnell Ranges. 

My time in Alice Springs was emotionally and physically challenging, eye opening and one of the best experiences of my life. The community lifestyle along, the high workload, and the experience with the unique population is invaluable and has really made me love my rural placement. The ACEN WIL scholarship alleviated the financial worries I had and allowed me to focus on my learning and completely immerse myself within the community. 

Across my 4 weeks of placement and extra activities, I grew exponentially. However, an invaluable skill I believe I really developed is communication, including an individualised systematic approach with each patient. Across my placement I developed communications skills when communicating with people from a different culture, people with various levels of health literacy, people with heightened emotions, including anxiety, and de-escalation scenarios. Furthermore, I developed the ability to adapt different communication styles depending on the patient, sometimes directing questions to parents or caregivers. These communication skills that I have developed are the fundamental skills of a paramedic as communication is integral to the profession. Being in a rural setting I was also very well supported by the close knit mentoring group within St John’s Ambulance Service and the Alice Springs Hospital. 

Another skill I believe I developed was clinical reasoning and critical thinking. By forward thinking about the patient long term and taking everything, I learn into consideration, I believe I was able to formulate the safest treatment plans for my patients. Furthermore, the exposure to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and different societal and health issues that their population face has grown my cultural safety within a clinical setting. This experience with St Johns Ambulance NT and Purple House has further ignited my passion to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and combat the complex primary health issues being faced. 

The ACEN WIL scholarship took away any financial pressures I had. This allowed me to fully immerse myself into my studies and the community which I believe is one of the reasons why I had such a successful placement. Over the course of my placement, I had various hiccups with accommodation and my car, and hence, knowing that I had financial back up helped me to relax about these issues and focus on developing as a professional clinician.