Bringing the frontline to the classroom

James Pearce. Photo: Brenton Edwards

In the ever-evolving field of paramedicine, James Pearce (BHlthSc (Paramedic) ’07), Flinders University Senior Lecturer in Paramedicine, registered paramedic and PhD candidate, tells us how he balances working on the frontline with teaching at the front of the classroom.

James’ passion for paramedicine began in his high school years, inspired by a Year 10 science assignment that introduced him to the field. After graduating with a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Paramedic) degree at Flinders in 2007 and joining SA Ambulance Service as an intern, James pursued further studies, including a Master of Advanced Practice.

This guided his career path, going on to work interstate and in the public and private sectors, gaining diverse experience across the board. James was attracted back to Flinders, where he now works as a full-time senior lecturer and is pursuing a PhD, focussing on the use of reporting guidelines in paramedicine and pre-hospital care research.

Paramedicine itself has undergone a paradigm shift in terms of patient care. James explains, “When I first started back in 2006, people mostly called 000 for major emergencies like car crashes or cardiac arrest. Nowadays, the field has shifted towards responding to lower-acuity cases, including social and situational crises, drug and alcohol dependency, and mental health-related conditions.”

Reflecting on the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, James highlights the positive introduction of virtual care. Although a difficult time for all, the pandemic gave rise to innovative problem-solving within the industry, leading to lasting positive changes.

When James is not providing clinical care, he dedicates his time to lecturing at Flinders. Balancing his teaching responsibilities with his clinical work, James finds joy in merging his experiences to create a contemporary learning environment for his students. By incorporating real-life scenarios based on his 15 years of clinical practice, he enriches their education with authentic and relatable examples.

“Using real-life examples means the students can really latch on and understand the teachings. There’s the recognition of ‘This is something my lecturer did last week, and now they’re teaching me how to do it’,” says James.

The satisfaction of passing on his knowledge to enable his students to contribute to society in a meaningful way is by far the most fulfilling aspect of his work.

“What my students have learned here at Flinders University has a huge flow-on effect all over the world – that’s pretty cool!” says James.

Being a frontline paramedic, lecturer, husband, and father of four young boys certainly keeps James busy. An average week can be a juggling act of meetings, marking, supervising, teaching and everything in-between – not forgetting the childcare pickups and footy practice too.

“There are not many hours left in the day for anything else, to be fair,” he says with a smile. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way. As a paramedic, lecturer and father, I have the three best jobs in the world. It’s a real privilege.”

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2023 MPH Alumni Magazine College of Medicine and Public Health Health Medicine

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