'Every student has something unique to bring to the table' - James Woollacott
We meet this year's Amazing Teacher, James Woollacott - Paramedic Science - as selected by students and John Moores Student Union.
Which courses do you teach James?
The undergraduate bachelor’s degree in paramedic science. I’m module lead for ‘research methodologies for paramedics’, ‘applied pharmacology for paramedics’ and ‘healthcare leadership’. I am passionate about all three: research; for embedding the recognition of its importance for driving paramedic evidence-based practice forward, pharmacology; because how good is a paramedic without a holistic understanding of the medicines we administer, and leadership for it’s importance in becoming more self-aware, self-reflective and self-resolute clinicians with a strong moral, ethical and legal compass to drive positive change within the NHS.
How long have you been at LJMU and what is your background training?
I joined in 2019 on secondment from the North West Ambulance Service where I have worked as a paramedic since 2011 following the completion of my Diploma in Paramedic Practice at LJMU! I specialised in urgent and emergency care and took on a number of specialist roles within urgent care focussing my attention on seeing and treating in the community. I have always been impassioned by education and, alongside working full time, I have continued to study at LJMU through my BSc and MSc and kept in touch with the paramedic team. When the opportunity arose to join them in 2019, I snapped at the chance and I haven’t looked back.
What do you think you did in teaching terms to win this nomination?
As clichéd as it sounds, I honestly think I was just doing my job. The student experience is at the heart of every lesson I plan and by placing myself in their shoes (which I was in not quite so long ago) it allows me to consider what will be the most engaging way to get my point across. Whether that be seminar style work, group activity, practical within theory, flipping the classroom, tabletop exercises or presentations, I make every attempt to adapt the session to the audience.
Research can be a hard sell, but when you relate it to pre-hospital clinical practice suddenly it opens up a whole new world of evidence-based possibilities that the students can take into clinical practice and demonstrate their newfound knowledge to their practice educators. Pharmacology is complex; but recognising that paramedics are generally visual learners means my hand drawn sessions that they can follow along with, lessens that challenge. Lastly, leadership can be dry, but when you mix it up to look at poignant topics such as whistle blowing, women in leadership and cultural competence it opens the floor to discussion and breaking of barriers.
'Mutual respect lends itself to mutual understanding' - James Woollacott
How do you approach your work/what is your philosophy?
I’m an inherently conscientious person so I try to approach work with a mutual respect for everyone around me. I find that by doing so it lends itself to mutual understanding and allows for unique interactions and contributions from others.
What advice (if you were forced) would you hand out to other teachers?
Gosh, I’m not sure I’m in a position to be offering advice. Rather I am grateful to the advice that I have been given and the role models that I have around me within the faculty of health and paramedic team. I feel privileged and humbled every single day to be a part of the LJMU family.
Why do you love teaching?
Above all, I love the interactions twith the students. It’s recognising that everyone has a story and with that, they all have had different and unique experiences that they can bring to the table.
It gives me an immense sense of pride to see students who started when I did in 2019 now coming toward the end of their journey at LJMU and to see how they, and I alongside them, have grown. I feel confident that the future of my profession is in safe hands.
For more about the JMSU's Amazing Teahcing Awards, go here.