Clinical placements in residential care facilities part 1: positive experiences

Objective: This paper analyses aged care clinical placements undertaken by undergraduate paramedic students participating in the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre's ‘Teaching Aged Care Facilities Program’. Student views on positive learning experiences during placement are identified in order to support further development of high-quality evidence-based clinical placements.Setting: A cohort of final year undergraduate students (n=17) completed a 5-day clinical placement in two participating residential aged care facilities in Tasmania, Australia.Method: The research involved the collection of qualitative data during weekly student feedback meetings whilst on placement that were recorded and transcribed. Quantitative data from pre- and post-placement questionnaires were collected and analysed using IBM SPSS Statistics 20.0.Results: Positive learning experiences identified by students include: an increased understanding of dementia and dementia palliation; development of ‘soft skills’ such as empathy and communication skills; and improved understanding of the operations of residential aged care facilities.Conclusions: Paramedic practice is an emerging discipline that needs to consider the positive learning experiences identified in this analysis. This will facilitate further development of quality, evidence-based models of undergraduate paramedic student learning in residential aged care.

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