UCLan Graduate Achieves Paramedic Dream Despite Mental Health Setbacks

An Oldham graduate hasn’t let her mental health struggles stand in her way after achieving her dream to work as a paramedic.

Mia Higham graduated from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) this week with a degree in paramedic science and has already secured a job with the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS).

The 23-year-old has experienced mental health difficulties since a young age, but a desire to help and care for people in need helped Mia to reach her goal despite some setbacks.

She said: “I have always wanted to pursue a career in healthcare. I like to be able to help people and this course has introduced me to a really rewarding career that focuses on helping those most in need.

“It feels surreal to have made it to the end and I’m proud of myself for getting there.

“I had to take time out from University when I suffered a mental health crisis in 2018. There were times when I felt I wouldn’t complete my degree but my friends and family and the staff on my course and placement, alongside the UCLan Well-being Team, were very supportive and helped me to get through the difficult times.”

I like to be able to help people and this course has introduced me to a really rewarding career that focuses on helping those most in need.— UCLan paramedic graduate Mia Higham

Mia is also a carer for her terminally ill dad Thomas, who has liver failure. She juggled this responsibility with her studies and working shifts during her times on placement.

The former Saddleworth School and Ashton Sixth Form College pupil said: “Me and my grandma care for my dad. We take it in turns to look after him and make sure someone is always on hand to help with his medication. It was hard to work shifts in these circumstances but my placement team at Oldham Ambulance Station, especially my mentors, were nothing but supportive.

“I feel that my experiences have helped me become caring towards others, which of course is needed in my job. I love how you are always thinking on your feet and how being a paramedic allows you to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Mia says she now can’t wait to start her career and hopes one day to return to University to study for a master’s degree in advanced clinical practice.

I love how you are always thinking on your feet and how being a paramedic allows you to make a difference in people’s lives.— UCLan paramedic graduate Mia Higham

She added: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at UCLan and benefitted from using the great skills labs and simulation equipment, as well as mixing with students from other health courses to learn from their experiences.

“Covid of course had an impact on our studies and everyone on my course has worked so hard to get back out there and regain their confidence.

“I would really like to practice as a prescribing paramedic in the future but for now I’m really excited to start my new job.”

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