News Release

Spirituality in the Ambulance Service

4th July 2008

A former paramedic in the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS), who went back to the University of Ulster to study human resource management, has explored how Spirituality can help improve the efficiency of any organisation.

Anita Kelso, who graduated today with a 1st class honours degree in Human Resource Management and a Diploma in Industrial Studies with commendation, stressed that Spirituality in this context does not involve religion.
“This is about a oneness and wholeness between an individual and an organisation where all are interconnected in achieving common goals. It is about creating organisations where there is careful planning to attract, develop and retain an effective workforce with a ‘volunteer’ mindset and a desire to serve ‘Self’ and others without brandishing the emblems of the ego,” she said. 

According to Anita, most organisations, in both public and private sectors, whether they are old fashioned bureaucracies or on the cutting-edge of modern management practices, rely essentially on feeding the ego driven needs of their staff.
This has led to the obsessive chasing of objectives and targets, that more often than not undermine the intrinsic value of the nature of the service or task that the employee is involved in. 

Her research uncovered levels of Spirituality throughout the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and identified a group of core managers, Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) staff and Control staff that could potentially with each other’s support, spread throughout the organisation the development of a deeper sense of shared understandings, and interconnectedness with the ‘whole.’ 

“The people working in NIAS demonstrated the potential to be focused on their jobs in the context of the greater needs of society, rather than their ego derived desires,” she said.

The statistical analysis evidenced in NIAS offered a significant probability that optimum performance may be achievable through interconnected deeper understandings of the organisation and its targets by staff at all levels, incorporating free flow communications which if nurtured could improve organisational operations at many levels; for example in achieving short response times to emergency calls.
This is the first active research study of this kind in the field of Spirituality in the workplace in Northern Ireland. 

Mrs Kelso, a mother-of-two, Ben and Emma, spent about seven years working as a paramedic in the Ambulance Service, having previously studied psychology at the University of Ulster. She also continued studying in her spare time, obtaining a number of childcare qualifications.

She left the Ambulance Service to help her husband establish his podiatry practice. 

“With two young children to care for it was impossible to set up the business and continue to work shifts. I really loved working in the Ambulance Service,” she said. 

Having graduated, she is now exploring the possibility of engaging in PhD research at the University.                                                                                

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