International Women’s Day – Sonja Marwick

Name: Sonja Marwick

Job Title: Clinical Training Officer – SAS

Role within BASICS Scotland: Instructor 

Area of Scotland you work in: Orkney





What made you want to work in the world of medicine?

I always worked with animals, in particular horses, so keeping them healthy is really important. Diagnosing and treating more common problems is a big of Animal management, as is working closely with vets for the best outcomes.  

I ended up working for an Agricultural feed merchant and became their SQP so that I could advise on and sell animal medicines. 

 When I left that job I spotted the Advert for Ambulance Technician based in Kirkwall so went for it realising I did have some transferable skills. 

I have been so lucky in that I had some really good mentors within the Ambulance Service who encouraged me to progress to Paramedic, which wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but so worth it. Not long after I qualified as a Paramedic, I did a Basics PHEC course and that is when I was asked to join the teaching faculty – I was amazed that I had been considered and was very proud to join the Basics family. It gave me a huge confidence boost and I met some amazing people. 

Once I had gained some experience on the road working as a Paramedic I saw a job advertised for the training department within the SAS and as a bonus, it was based in Kirkwall. I went for it and because of my experiences with Basics Scotland, I was successful. 

I now have the best of both worlds – teaching and working operationally on occasion. 

What advice would you have to other girls/women who want to work in medicine?

It is one of the most rewarding careers going.  

There are no barriers due to your gender, everyone works on an equal footing and there is nothing stopping anyone from progressing up the career ladder if that is what you want to do.  

A woman brings so much to careers within medicine – lots of valid life experience, the ability to multi-task, empathy, practical thinking and the list goes on. 

What is your best memory from the training?

Realising that you never stop learning and that is a positive thing as it keeps things interesting. Also, that we are all human and mistakes do happen – it’s learning from them that is the important thing.

What’s the best bit about your role

Meeting people from all walks of life with such varied experiences – you learn from everyone. 

What’s your favourite thing about your typical day?

Nowadays I mostly work in an office, but when I get to work on the ambulances, I really enjoy the variety of working environment – you never know where you will end up when you start a shift. I love being outside and I also enjoy getting the chance to go to places you would never normally get the chance to see. 

What do you love about your job?  

The variety of things I get to do, the places I get to see and of course meeting lots of people. 

Helping and making a difference for people who are having difficult times is also very rewarding. 

What are the 3 biggest non-clinical skills that you use in your day job?

Body language – positive body language, eye contact and a smile are the biggest tools of the job. Of course, wearing masks all the time does curtail that quite a bit but when your mouth smiles your eyes do too

Conversation – chatting with a patient breaks the ice and helps them feel comfortable and relaxed while you treat and look after them

Practical thinking – as a Paramedic you need clinical skills, but you also need to work out how to get your patient from where you found them to the safety of the Ambulance – that can be quite complicated sometimes which is where the practical thinking and problem solving come in

A most challenging bit about your job?

Working in a small community you will always know the people you work with as patients – it can be really emotional when you have to break the bad news to someone you are close to.

Confidentiality in a small community is so important, but it is really difficult to hear incorrect gossip and not be able to correct it.

Are you a BASICS Responder, if yes what is the best bit about responding?

I have considered responding for Basics – I feel it would be a great thing to give back to the community