This week’s superstar is senior Leah Johnson! She is an Exercise and Sport Science major who is not only a full-time student, but also a nationally certified paramedic. She sits in class by day and saves lives by night!
HC: You are a full-time student and a nationally registered paramedic. How do you balance both at the same time?
LJ: It was really difficult being a full-time student and doing EMT school at the same time. I just had to put my priorities in order and cut some of my social life in order to be able to excel in both. But it was one of the best commitments that I’ve ever made.
HC: So how did you even decide to get started with becoming a paramedic?
LJ: I heard about an EMT basic course through the EXSS listserv and decided to take it one summer. I then applied to South Orange Rescue Squad, a volunteer EMT organization, and really enjoyed it. I became good friends with my lead instructor and he encouraged me to continue down the EMT path. So I went to Paramedic School and got my certification as a paramedic, the highest level that you can be.
HC: What is the most fulfilling part of the job?
LJ: I know this sounds corny, but it’s the people. It feels really good when patients are thankful for what you do and tell you that you’re meant to be in that position.
HC: What’s the coolest thing that you’ve done on the job?
LJ: Since I’m a new paramedic, I haven’t been able to do everything yet. But I have been able to do IO placement, where you drill into someone’s tibia, normally when they’re in cardiac arrest, to administer medications and fluids.
HC: What is your best memory in Chapel Hill?
LJ: I’ve had so many great moments, I couldn’t fathom having to pick just one. But it was pretty cool getting to celebrate UNC beating Duke in basketball during my senior year and rushing Franklin Street!
HC: What’s your dream job?
LJ: It would be really cool to be a trainer or doctor for an NFL team and get to travel around with them. Not sure if it’ll ever happen, but that’s what I’ve dreamed about since high school.
HC: So you just bought a dog that you’ll get to take home in a few weeks. Tell me about that.
LJ: I’m getting a male English Springer Spaniel in May and I’m really excited. I got to meet him when he was 10 days old and he is absolutely adorable. I haven’t decided what to name him yet, so any ideas are welcome!
HC: What are you doing post-grad?
LJ: I want to get more experience in healthcare before I go to Physician’s Assistant School, so I’ll be working next year as a paramedic in Durham Country and then plan on applying to LSU’s P.A. School.
Well best of luck, Leah! And if any of our readers ever need medical attention, you know who to call!