Student Cathy proves it’s never too late to achieve your dreams

Date 13.10.2020

As part of Allied Health Professions Day 2020 this Wednesday, we’re profiling each of the AHP subject areas at the University of Northampton (UON). Today, it’s the turn of Paramedic Science.

We caught up with student Cathy Goldsmith who is on the cusp of becoming a paramedic, fulfilling a decades-held dream.


Cathy – 58 years young and proudly one of the older members of her student cohort – originally applied to study Paramedic Science 20 years ago, but for personal reasons moved into nursing.

Most recently, she worked at UON’s Competence Test Centre (CTC) before finally enrolling on the Foundation degree in Paramedic Science in 2018.

Cathy – pictured centre with her peers – explains: “If you had asked me five years ago, I would never have said I’d get to the point where I would start the degree, let alone complete all of the exams for it. I’m wonderfully surprised to say I passed all of them…I even picked up some A’s along the way!

“The pandemic has made all of us ‘wobble’ a bit, but there’s been so much more to do and learn during coronavirus. All Paramedic Science students had the opportunity to join East Midlands Ambulance Service as technicians during the lockdown, due to our placements being cancelled.

“My thoughts are always with the people affected by it, but as someone training to be an emergency care professional, I’ve had many opportunities to better prepare for being a paramedic. For instance, I was a lead clinician and made clinical and care decisions, but always with the back-up of a supervisor if needed.

“COVID has changed our way of working, but it’s not something I am scared of. I feel so much more confident in being able to do my job and help people. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, although I do look a bit like a Tellytubby in the full PPE suit!”

Even with the pandemic and having a family, Cathy has kept herself continually busy, juggling her studies with part-time work at the CTC and continuing as a volunteer first responder.

In recognition of her good deeds, she was named ‘Northampton’s 2019 Inspirational Woman of the Year’ as part of Northampton Borough Council’s annual International Women’s Day Celebration last year.

Even though she’s nearing the end of her time as a student, Cathy will always think fondly on her time with the UON team and how the switch to ‘lockdown learning’ was handled so well.

She concludes: “I am excited, sad and a little nervous about coming to the end of the course but also so proud to have shown everyone I could do it! You just have to put your mind to achieving things.

“The lecturers have been amazing, always keeping in touch and keeping us motivated. COVID has been just as challenging for them as us, but we are all in the business of adapting and coping.

“We had little online study groups prior to our exams, setting each other quizzes and discussing different scenarios. Our lecturers also arranged special sign-off skills sessions with a consultant from the hospital, which were very helpful.

“I miss the close contact of our cohort; working with younger people certainly kept me young. For now, hugging hello is virtual or through elbow taps. That’s hard when you are in a profession that is a caring one and used to being more up close and personal. But it’s still a privilege to walk into someone’s home to help them when they most need it; I still get a buzz about this and knowing I have made it and fulfilled my dream.”

Find out more about the Paramedic Science (BSc) degree at the University of Northampton.

Find out more about Allied Health Professions Day on the NHS England website.