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Frameworks that guide curriculum development in Australian higher education

02 March 2021
Volume 13 · Issue 3



In Australia, accrediting body competencies reflect paramedic professional practice rather than informing curriculum development for higher education institutions.


This article will investigate frameworks that can be used to design curriculum development.


An initial focused discourse analysis of the grey literature was undertaken followed by a systematic review.


Three of the 18 institutions in Australia and New Zealand that offer paramedic education identified some form of framework. Two theories were identified as applicable in supporting the development of curricula that are focused on the expanded scope of practice of paramedicine.


The current and future scope in paramedicine will define the development of curricula, especially in relation to a more primary-focused healthcare model.


Further research is required to establish a consensus on what constitutes the essential core knowledge and skills required by graduate paramedics so that they are able to deliver patient care proficiently.

Within the UK paramedic scene, the College of Paramedics (2019) has been a strong supporter and reformer in terms of the evolution of education when there are changes to the delivery model of paramedicine. Initially, paramedic education in the UK involved in-house, apprenticeship-style training. As part of reforms to the NHS, paramedic education shifted towards academisation through university-based undergraduate programmes (Givati et al, 2017).

In Australia and New Zealand, paramedicine has undergone a transitional shift from an internship model of vocational education to a model of pre-employment tertiary education qualifications. This model has experienced some disapproval from industry since its inception, with a number of studies identifying the lack of vital skills such as mathematics (Eastwood et al, 2012), care for the elderly (Ross et al, 2016), and clinical exposure (Michau et al, 2009) which prevents students from being ‘road ready’. It has also been identified in the literature that the inflexibility of current tertiary curricula is precluding students from adapting to the changing practices of paramedicine (O'Meara et al, 2017). Paramedic education in developing road-ready health professionals is ominously comprised of competency and skill-related tasks solely focused on ambulance service protocols and are the cornerstone of curricula (Donaghy, 2010). With the ever-changing roles and scope of paramedics, it is important that the foundations of paramedic practice are supported with a signature pedagogy or a distinguishing form of learning and teaching, which defines one profession against another (Shulman, 2005).

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