One of the first building blocks towards a fully-fledged medical school at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) is now firmly in place, with 22 first-year students enrolled in the new Bachelor of Emergency Medical Care (BEMC) programme.
A first of its kind in the Eastern Cape, the four-year paramedics degree programme offers students unique training opportunities in the field of emergency medical care.
“I still had people phoning me at the last hour before applications closed,” says the delighted programme manager Nico Louw.
With an Admission Point Score of 36 required, only 36 hopefuls were invited to undergo the comprehensive selection process, which included:
- Physical tests, undertaken by the university‘s Biokinetics and Sport Science Unit, which put the applicants’ fitness, strength and stamina to the test.
- Phobia tests to see applicants’ reactions when exposed to heights and enclosed spaces;
- An interview by a team within the School of Clinical Sciences in the Faculty of Health Sciences;
- An Aviation Medical Examination; and
- An overnight orientation camp where the applicants were placed in various real life scenarios.
“The process is designed to get applicants outside their comfort zone and determine just how far they are willing to push the limits,” says Nico, who is a qualified paramedic himself.
Ashleigh Braddon, one of the successful applicants, says the thought of quitting never once crossed his mind. “I know the others didn’t want to quit either”.
The B(EMC) class of 2014 is made up of 16 men and six women, aged 17 to 43.
“We have the most diverse group of people – from school-leavers who don’t know what to expect, to people who have years of experience in the industry.”
Among the latter is Clifford Hanks, with an intermediate life support qualification, who is giving up his full-time job to pursue his dream.
“Most of us have all gone the short course route, and now we have the opportunity to go further. This is going to widen our eyes and our opportunities.”
During the four-year-long programme, students will cover topics like as anatomy, physiology, physics, chemistry, pathology, pharmacology and diagnostics, with the major subject being Emergency Medical Care. They will complete all 12 rescue modules, preparing them for a range of rescue missions including fire, aquatic, aviation, motor vehicle and structural collapse rescue.
Nico says NMMU also offers these students the unique opportunity of working hand-in-hand with local voluntary rescue organisations such as the Mountain Club of South Africa, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and Eastern Cape Lifesaving in the form of work-integrated learning.
Graduates of the BEMC programme will ultimately be able to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa as emergency care practitioners – the highest paramedic register in South Africa.
The degree has been widely welcomed throughout the province especially given the dire shortage of health care professionals, including highly-qualified paramedics.
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Article source: http://mype.co.za/new/2014/02/bemc-degree-gets-underway/