Student paramedics' views on placements in general practice as part of a degree
Monday, December 2, 2019
Frontline paramedics are increasingly attending to non-emergency problems and calls that could be managed by a primary care provider. Alongside this, there is a growing pressure to manage patients at home or use an alternative care pathway and reduce hospital conveyance. Student paramedic training, including both placement and taught elements at university, should therefore reflect this. However, placement opportunities for student paramedics in primary care settings is variable across the UK.
To explore student paramedics' views on incorporating a placement within general practice as part of their degree and its effects on their learning and development as an autonomous paramedic.
A small pedagogic study as part of a postgraduate certificate in academic practice for higher education, involving a case study, qualitative approach using face-to-face, semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis, was carried out.
Student paramedics feel that incorporating a placement in general practice as part of their degree will significantly help in their learning and development as autonomous paramedics. Specifically, they feel it: will help them understand the role of the GP and what the GP expects of them; will help them to focus their assessments and improve confidence in decisions not to convey patients; may lead to better knowledge of alternative care pathways; and, finally, may provide an insight into the role of the paramedic in general practice as a future career opportunity. There are a few reservations about whether students would be able to use the skills and knowledge gained in this setting, as they feel they do not have access to the tools or the authority in a frontline ambulance service. Students would prefer to have a placement in a GP surgery in the final year of their university degree.
Placement within a GP surgery for student paramedics should be included as part of a paramedic science degree as a priority. This is necessary, particularly given the changing role of the contemporary paramedic who attends to non-emergency problems.
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