Prioritising the development of paramedic students' interpersonal skills

Objective:This paper analyses residential-aged care clinical placements undertaken by undergraduate paramedic students participating in the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre's ‘Teaching Aged Care Facilities Program’. Benefits of the placement in facilitating the development of critical interpersonal skills are identified and discussed.Setting:A cohort of final year undergraduate students (n=31) completed a five-day clinical placement in four participating residential-aged care facilities in Tasmania, Australia.Method:The research involved the collection of qualitative data during student feedback meetings at the end of students' placements. The data were analysed using a thematic analysis approach. Additionally, quantitative data from pre- and post-placement surveys were collected and analysed using IBM SPSS Statistics 20.0.0.Results:The research found that students benefited from the placement in terms of developing their interpersonal skills. Students demonstrated an increased understanding of dementia and improved communication strategies for working with people with dementia.Conclusions:Paramedic clinical placements in residential-aged care facilities address two key issues identified by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, these being a lack of interpersonal skills among graduate paramedics and a shortage of alternative learning sites.

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