Abstract Over the last one hundred and twenty years, the Australian paramedic sector has changed dramatically; influenced and informed by a range of social, health, economic, professional, and political forces. However, there has been little reflection of those changes in either the perception of the discipline as a profession or the manner in which its membership is trained, socialised, and educated.
This paper explores the links between professionalisation and education in the paramedic field. Paramedics are currently at best seen as a 'semi-profession' and a great deal of discussion about whether the discipline actually wants to achieve full professional status exists. Comparisons will be made with the professions of nursing and physiotherapy, outlining how and why they progressed from a semi-professional status to a fully recognised profession, culminating in a discussion about which characteristics the paramedics discipline as yet lacks. A review of common professional traits suggests three areas where the discipline falls short: 1) the delineation of its professional compass, especially in relation to extant recognised cognate (and competitive) professions, 2) National registration and regulation resulting in professional self-control and accreditation, and 3) Higher Education and the development of a unique body of professional knowledge.
Finally it will be argued that the recognition and addressing of the gaps by the relevant policymakers, regulators, employers and academics will lead to the formulation of strategies that are most likely to result in professional status for paramedics in Australia.
Brett Williams BAVEd, Grad Cert ICP, Grad Dip EmergHlth, MHlthSc, PhD (Candidate) MACAP, NAEMSE.
Brett Williams is a senior lecturer at Monash University (Department of Community Emergency Health & Paramedic Practice) with over 15 years experience in paramedic education. He has been heavily involved in the ideological transition of paramedic education from vocational origins to the higher education sector and has developed curriculum for both undergraduate and postgraduate students in face-to-face and e-learning modes.
Brett is currently undertaking his PhD. Brett's research and teaching interests are focused on the paradigm of student-centred learning, alternative learning opportunities, innovative teaching strategies and interprofessional education.
JEPHC PUBLICATIONS EducationQualitative analysis of undergraduate paramedic students' perceptions of using case-based learning in an online learning environment
Using creative and contemporary teaching strategies to promote emancipation, empowerment and achievement in undergraduate paramedic students - a personal reflection The Implementation of Case-Based Learning - Shaping the Pedagogy in Ambulance Education Opinion "Developmental Disability Medicine: Is it time for its inclusion into the paramedic curriculum?" an interview with Dr Jane Tracy
Removal of Invasive Devices from Deceased Persons: Forensic implications for Paramedics - A Victorian Perspective. an Interview with Professor Stephen Cordner Book Reviews "eACLS" American College of Emergency Physicians & National Safety Council. February 2004. Conference Reports OLT-2005 "Beyond Delivery" Conference 27 September 2005, QUT, Brisbane The Australian College of Ambulance Professionals 2004 National Conference at Alice Springs September 9-11
Williams, Brett; Brown, Ted; and Onsman, Andrys
"From stretcher-bearer to paramedic: the Australian paramedics’ move towards professionalisation,"
Journal of Emergency Primary Health Care:
4, Article 8.
Available at: http://ro.ecu.edu.au/jephc/vol7/iss4/8