Q&As with Standby CPD Author, Melinda ‘Dolly’ McPherson
Melinda (Dolly) is a Trainee Advanced Clinical Practitioner at the University Hospital Southampton and a Specialist Paramedic – Urgent Care in the South Central Ambulance Service. She is a degree paramedic with an MSc in Advanced Practice working towards her prescribing qualification. She has experience in the NHS across a number of environments including the ambulance service, minor injuries, the emergency department and within GP practices. She has an interest in reading and writing academic literature with previous publications in the Journal of Paramedic Practice and Standby CPD. It is her aim to add to the evidence base that currently inspires paramedic practice, whilst learning from it herself.
What made you decide to become a paramedic?
I used to work as a stage manager in musical theatre but knew that I didn’t want to do that my whole life so a friend of mine in Australia became a paramedic and recommended it to me. She always said that the basic skills were the same (eg people and scene management) but you just had to learn a new knowledge base.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about working in healthcare or currently studying paramedic science/emergency care?
Emergency and pre-hospital care isn’t necessarily for everyone but if it is for you, it can be immensely fulfilling and wonderfully challenging. I read somewhere that the secret to success is to always try to be in the room with greater minds than your own. Take every opportunity to spend time around clinicians with more knowledge and experience than yours and you will learn by just listening.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps as an author?
Think of writing as an enjoyable past time – treat yourself to writing time in coffee shops (when it’s safe to do so again), go on writers retreats and read what other people write.
What inspired you to write?
I started writing when I started my master’s degree and realised that I was enjoyed it and could write well so I carried on.
Do you feel your first publication changed your process of writing?
Not really, the process finding the underpinning evidence first is always the best.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t plan – life never actually goes the way you think it will.
What do you consider as your greatest achievement and is there anything else you wish to achieve?
I don’t think I have one single greatest achievement – I once ran 87 miles in 3 days as a charity fundraiser and I hope in the next couple of years to complete an Ironman event.
You have a very busy lifestyle. How do you manage to juggle work and writing with time to yourself?
I like to be busy, sometimes I say yes to too much but usually I manage to fit it in. I don’t have children so I’m pretty sure that helps with the spare time! (Massive credit to anyone trying to home school at the moment!)
What do you do to relax, especially in these very strange and stressful times?
I borrow a friend’s dog and go for a walk or a run in a forest somewhere.
Where is your place of escape (to quote Jordan North… your “Happy Place”)?
We have a small cottage in rural Ireland that always makes me forget the world, otherwise it’s my home beach in Australia.
What is your favourite book? (It doesn’t have to be a Class book!)
‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini – it’s simply amazing.
Do you prefer eBook or print?
I actually love audio books – I can be pretty time poor so being able to listen to books while I run or drive anywhere is great.
Other than being a Class author, what is your secret talent/what other skills do you have?
I can do balloon animals, face painting, handstands and cartwheels.
What is your favourite word or phrase?
‘Kerfuffle’ – just a great sounding word!
Want to hear more from Dolly? Here she is chatting with our Standby CPD Editor, Kat Totterdell, about all things Standby CPD. They chat about how she first heard of Standby CPD, her writing process and the inspiration behind her first and latest issues, ‘Hyponatraemia – salt on the mind?’ and ‘Knife and gunshot wounds- no time to linger’.
If you’re interested in writing for Standby CPD, please email Kat on firstname.lastname@example.org