Susan Furness

Course Coordinator, Senior Lecturer and Senior Profession Mentor at the La Trobe Rural Health School, Department of Paramedicine


Crash course for paramedics

With fifteen years’ experience working with the ambulance service, Susan Furness is more than equipped to prepare her students for the challenges involved in a paramedical career. From their first day on course, she treats her students as if they are already qualified clinicians, and Susan says they thrive on this treatment.

Susan begins the process of preparing her students from their first year, organising regular one-on-one meetings to discuss everything from the history of the ambulance service to professionalism in the industry. She has also established a program that pairs first year students with a paramedic mentor, who provides an insider’s view of the working environment inside the ambulance service.

This strong connection with local ambulance services also means the La Trobe Rural Health School is often able to employ paramedics to teach certain classes, and include them in the School’s emergency simulations. Susan says she aims to take her students outside the classroom to experience these real-world simulations as often as possible, as this helps them become psychologically ready to start work.

As well as being able to work closely with local ambulance services, La Trobe’s paramedical students are also able to practice their skills with functioning equipment in line with what they will use once they are employed. And, because Susan still works as a paramedic on a casual basis, she is able to bring up-to-date examples back to the classroom and keep students in touch with industry changes as they happen.

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