Graduating at the age of 63, Bob Muller is proof that it is never too late to completely reinvent yourself. A former car salesman, he enrolled in the Bachelor of Paramedicine course at the University of Tasmania so he could make a difference in people’s lives.
Bob, who now lives at Deloraine in Tasmania’s north, was born and raised in Brisbane, where he ran the family car dealership until the business collapsed in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Looking for a fresh start in 2018, Bob and partner, Anne, moved to Deloraine, and Bob started a private consultancy business, which left him with enough free time to volunteer with the local fire brigade.
“As a fire brigade were sometimes called to assist the local paramedics, and there were a couple of times when having a few extra hands around made a real difference to the outcome for the patient.
“That was when I thought maybe I could add some value by volunteering for the ambulance service as well.”
He started as a volunteer ambulance driver in March 2020 and, the following week, COVID hit. In the shutdown that followed, Bob’s consultancy work dried up and he decided to justify his time on JobKeeper by volunteering as much as possible.
“I started volunteering with ambulance almost full-time, plus one shift a week with the SES doing quarantine check-ins.”
As a Volunteer Ambulance Officer, Bob assisted paramedics at call-outs but was not able to administer treatment. However, one particularly touching experience convinced him it was time to change that.
“We were called to a person who was being palliated at home, and was expected to die that night. Their family wanted to make sure they were comfortable and cared for during their death.
“The paramedic was so considerate of the patient and their family; he gently held the patient's wrist, taking their pulse, and quietly let the family know the moment they had passed. To be there, with those people in that moment was such a privilege and seeing my colleague’s genuine compassion made me realise that paramedicine was way more than a job."
Bob admits his age initially made him hesitant to commit to such a career shift but a conversation with another paramedic changed his perspective.
“I said, I wish I’d known about this career as a younger bloke. And he said ‘why don’t you do it now?’ I said, because I’m 61. He said ‘and your point is?’
“So, I applied for the Bachelor of Paramedicine that night, and started in February 2021.”
Having previously completed a Bachelor of Psychology at Bond University as a mature age student, Bob found it relatively easy settling back into a life of full-time study.
Now, at 63 he is the oldest student in his course by almost 30 years. But he said his age and prior experience turned out to be an advantage in a couple of areas.
“My previous degree prepared me well for the research and mental health content of this degree,” he said. “And having been an ambulance volunteer, I’d already been exposed to a lot of the practical side as well and seen how it all works on-road.”
After graduating, Bob’s next step is a 12-month internship, after which he expects to become a fully qualified paramedic in the same month as he reaches retirement age.
“Yeah, I never intended to retire anyway,” he laughed.
“Usually, paramedics my age are retiring from the service, but I’m just entering it. By my age, they’ve kinda seen it all, but I haven’t.
“And I think doing this is my way of reapplying for the human race after spending most of my life as a car dealer. It really resets your priorities.
“Buying a bigger boat is kinda nice, but I want to do something to make a real difference in the world.”
If you want to be like Bob and make a difference, our distinctive, problem-based Paramedicine course includes professionally relevant experiences with the chance to learn in a range of classroom and placement settings.