On the Road Again? Training Paramedics in Higher Education in the UK

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:48
Location: Hörsaal 17 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Assaf GIVATI, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Chris MARKHAM, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Ken STREET, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Since 2003, like several other allied health professions, paramedic education in the UK has undergone a process of formalization. Whilst training previously took place ‘in-house’, over weeks-long courses within ambulance trusts, today, the main route of training and registration for new paramedics is through undergraduate programmes delivered by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Indeed, for the academic year 2015 there are 47 such university programs. However, over a decade since the opening of the first BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science, this process involves a number of significant challenges. Many registered paramedics and professional leaders view the delivery of undergraduate paramedic courses as unnecessarily-long and too ‘theory heavy’ and the process of professionalizing paramedic practice, including the formalization of education and training, is seen as a case of ‘professionalisation from above’ that is driven by managers and policy-makers rather than by registered paramedics ‘on the ground’. Consequently, students find themselves at the centre of competing views held by the various ‘stake-holders’, including the host university, the professional body and practicing registered paramedics.

The main questions guiding this research study are 1) how do university lecturers, clinical mentors and students on university paramedic programmes in the UK negotiate occupational practice within the framework of HE skills and knowledge?  2)  What are the implications of formalising paramedic education on the development of paramedics’ professional practice?

The research draws on data from a) focus group discussions with students from one Paramedic Science programme at a university in the South of England, b) 15 in-depth interviews with educational and professional leads at the regional ambulance service and at the professional body for paramedics and the ambulance profession in the UK; with members of the academic team at the host university; and with registered paramedics working alongside students on the course whilst in placement.