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Fast-paced first response: Sarah’s passion in non-emergency patient transport

Training and skills case study

Sarah Whelan always knew she wanted a dynamic career, one where she wouldn’t be sitting behind a desk for eight hours.

“With my job, we’re always on the go and out and about, I love it!” she enthuses. “I’ve been to so many places that I’d never heard of before, met so many different people from different walks of life.”

Sarah works as a patient transport officer for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.  

Sarah Whelan case study

Her mum is a nurse, and having family in health care alongside her interest in how the body works planted the seed that led her to paramedics and patient transport.

After high school, she leapt straight into a Bachelor of Nursing before switching course to a Certificate III in Non-Emergency Patient Transport. This meant that after 6 months of study, she was able to work in the industry.

“I really wanted a pathway where I could work while I studied,” she explains. “With the typical degree route, you can’t always work in your field until the end of a three- or four-year course.”

From there, she completed her Diploma of Paramedical Science and then fast tracked into her Bachelor of Paramedicine.  

“A good thing about our course is we had a realistic spin on scenarios,” Sarah recalls. “That meant we were trained to expect the unexpected.”

She adds, “Anything I couldn’t practise in my course, I could practise at work, which really helped to solidify my skills. I got to do various emergency placements, and that’s where it hit me that this is where I’m meant to be.”

Sarah Whelan case study

In her spare time, Sarah gives back to the paramedic community by mentoring students who are following a similar pathway.

Her advice is to be open-minded, willing to learn and upskill, and ready to adapt to the ever-changing environment.

“It is very dynamic industry where there is always a need for our medical and patient transport services within the community,” she says.

Sarah can’t wait to start on the first responder circuit, providing dedicated emergency care.

“I personally couldn’t see myself doing anything else, I love the job that we do,” she says. “Every day is different in the best way. Knowing we’re making an impact on people’s lives, big or small – it doesn’t get better than that.”

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