I am interested in a career change from the IT field towards being a Paramedic. I have some relevant experience as a Volunteer First Aider with St John VFAS manning first aid posts at local community events, AFL matches, etc.
I have tried gaining entry with St John via the Student Ambulance Officer pathway but wasn't successful, it was very competitive and apparently over 1,000 people applied for that intake. I will certainly try again for the next intake and hopefully have more experience by then.
In the meantime how feasible are these alternative pathways to becoming a Paramedic within WA?
Apply to be a Volunteer Ambulance Officer with St John: best option if I wanted to remain with St John all the way. Nearest subcentres for me would be Mandurah and Pinjarra. It would be unpaid but great experience in rural callouts.
Apply for private providers: I have heard of Advanced Medical Support (AMS) and Advance Life Ambulance Service (ALAS) but cannot get in contact with any of them. AMS's line is always engaged and ALAS's line appears to be disconnected? Are these folks still in business?
Registered Nurse/Paramedical Science study: I could go back and do 3 years study, which would go a long way towards the relevant qualifications in pre-hospital care but no guarantee of employment.
Any feedback and experiences would greatly be appreciated. After treating the public at events I feel this is a pathway I really wish to pursue!
For the most part you may get away with some RPL from two of the options.
Private providers... SJA really dont get on well with the 3rd party service providers, SJA would be more than happy if they did not exist... so might not be the best thing to have in your resume.
Being a volunteer gets you in there, and will give you some training that they will take on through RPL, it also gets you up to speed with their systems and lay out ect, the components that you could claim under RPL are very minimal.
The last option, would be your best bet, it will keep you off the road for 3 years, however you will tick most of the boxes when it comes to RPL.
Mandurah does not have volunteers any more
Pinjarra will be next to loose Volunteers and Serpentine is on the radar aswell.
As stated by AO11912, there aren't really many other pathways to becoming a paramedic in WA.
St.John (SJA) is pretty much the only organisation that trains paramedics and currently also provides the ambulance service on behalf of the WA government.
The applications for FESA, WAPOL and SJA are all extremely popular career choices and many applicants are not successful on their first attempt.
It would look good on your CV if your were a Volunteer Ambulance Officer and SJA actually prefer to enroll students who have a bit of life experience.
You have gone through the SJA application once already, know what to expect and in the meantime I would become a volunteer and prepare yourself for another selection process as SJA are still actively recruiting.
There are private organisations that offer paramedic training, but with paramedic registration not far away I would not spend large sums of cash on a qualification that may not be recognised by SJA or the registration body.
All applicants to SJA go through the same selection process and just because you have been a volunteer ambulance officer it will not get you any preferential treatment.
Volunteer ambulance officers don't necessarily make good career paramedics anyway, but if you are determined and apply more than once you stand a better chance of being selected. My previous post did not imply that by becoming a volunteer it will guarantee you a permanent position with SJA
Unfortunately the selection process does sometimes result in good candidates being excluded, although if you are unhappy with this process maybe you need to take it up with SJA directly.
While I was Volunteering in Mandurah, I also applied for the Comms job, I never got the job, however in my group I was competing with several other people, two of which one was Ex FESA comms, and the other was Ex WAPOL comms.
I'd agree with Mr G in some aspects. Sometimes an organisation would prefer that you not be a volunteer. That way when they get you into the career service they can mould you how they want, know you haven't developed any bad habits, won't always go but when I was a volunteer we did x, y, z etc. A fresh body might be easier to mould in their opinion.
A university degree in the paramedic field is your best bet. Just about every ambulance service now has it as a requirement and won't take a diploma qualified paramedic unless you have significant experience in a state ambulance service.
Another option you may not have considered is get a diploma or advanced diploma from any provider then get a degree conversion from a university. The Council of Ambulance Authorities (CAA) have this thing where they have a list of approved courses that they think is ok for a emergency ambulance service. This is basically any university course and the internal training SJA WA and NT do. Anything else they say isn't recognised as being good enough to work in the state ambulance service. Most of the diploma/advanced diploma courses can be done externally with some class room blocks and the degree conversion is mostly all external. If you take this option you then apply as a graduate paramedic to a service. Diplomas and advanced diplomas are pretty much dead in the water now. Just about everywhere now you need a degree to get into the ambulance service as a new recruit.
University option wise there is a combined nursing/paramedic degree I believe at CSU in NSW.
Lastly there is the option of applying interstate to another state ambulance service. I tend to think of the emergency ambulance services around Australia like a little club. Pretty much the same for police and fire services too. Once you're in, you're in. It's getting in that is the hard part. This all means that once you're in it's fairly easy to move interstate if you're already qualified. E.g. I've seen a large amount of Paramedics from the NT go to Vic and TAS recently with a few to WA. Alot easier to get in if you're already qualified and have experience with another ambulance service. Then you can also do things like name drop during interviews, talk about experiences you've already had.
I wouldn't rule out applying for an interstate service first. Even though you may want to stay in WA it might be an easier option. I was from interstate when I applied and was successful in the NT but now I don't want to leave to go back to my home state. I wouldn't actually work there in the ambulance service. Do your time somewhere else, cut your teeth there and transfer back if you are really desperate. It's always good to get a new perspective on things. Listing you're willing to go to rural areas and stay there is always a bonus.
Don't discount this option. Now i'm in the ambulance service club and have been for a number of years now moving interstate if I wanted to isn't a problem. Especially since I would go and stay in a rural area if I made the move.
It seems like you want to stay in WA but to follow the Paramedic dream you might have to uproot yourself and face moving somewhere else.
Don't forget the study side of the Student Ambulance Officer program is run by ECU. As of this year there's an equivalent course that gives you all the same stuff, but you do the whole thing on-campus. No recruitment process... but obviously no guarantee of a job at the other end. But it does give you a head start if it's what you want to do - and a lot of people are in that course and looking to switch to the St John course whenever they're accepted (a lot of people don't get in first time).
So that's a potential option if you're willing to take the risk of doing the course without necessarily getting accepted.