A 64-year-old graduate who has qualified to become a paramedic says he will keep going as long as he “can stand it”.
Peter Watters, from Penrith, studied on a two-year degree apprenticeship at Carlisle-based Cumbria University.
He was among about 200 students finishing a paramedic science course, many of whom had already begun work.
Mr Watters’ achievement comes as the NHS hopes to increase the number of paramedics in the next decade.
The study programme has been designed as an alternative to a three-year undergraduate course.
It is also being offered to some who already work for ambulance trusts, with course fees funded by their employer.
Among those graduating in Carlisle were those progressing from other trust roles, including care assistants.
“Paramedics come in all shapes, sizes and ages, but the one thing that links us all together is enthusiasm for the job,” said Mr Watters, a former technician.
“We’ll carry on going as long as we can stand it and deal with patients, so I suspect I’ll be carried out, rather than walk out.”
Graduate Kate Burns, who worked as an emergency care assistant, said she was looking for another way to “support” her family.
She said: “It’s been a dream since I was younger.
“I decided to put my family first [but] I’ve had my family… so I decided to go forward and do my degree so I can support [them] while learning and getting the dream job I’ve always wanted.”
North West Ambulance Service consultant paramedic Vinny Romano said the course provided “on the job learning”.
“It allows [students] to come out in an ambulance, practice their skill with a paramedic next to them, hone their skills that way, learn all the theory, put it all together,” he explained.
“They’ve been at university for two years and they’ve achieved the same standard as any other paramedic in the country.”
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