World Café-Mediated Contribution of Prehospital Practitioners in Ireland to the First Official National Guidance Regarding Continuous Professional Competence

Author: Shane Knox, PhD, MSc HDip, Advanced Para, MCPara, Assoc. CIPD
Associate Authors: Suzanne Dunne, PhD, Colum P. Dunne, PhD

Introduction—There was no regulatory requirement for prehospital practitioners in Ireland to provide evidence of competence, or
any link between competence and registration to practice. Having been charged with drafting a guidance document for practitioners relating to the introduction of a continuous professional development (CPD) framework, the authors initiated World Café engagements with practitioners to determine views regarding the utility of the draft guidance, emphasizing the need for unambiguous content of the advisory document, which was to be published for EMTs.

Methods—World Cafés were hosted regionally, with 63 participants from the three practitioner levels (31 EMTs, 22 paramedics, 10 advanced paramedics). A draft guidance document was developed after the completion of a national consultation process though an electronic survey with EMTs. Topics were selected by using section titles from the guidance document with a view to seeking further feedback and subsequent refinement of the proposals for CPD. These topics were then discussed using the World Café process: (a) what was absent from it; (b) perceived challenges regarding provision of evidence; (c) clarity regarding related activities; (d) the purpose of learning portfolios. Qualitative analyses were performed using NVivo (version 10).

Results—Participants’ feedback included: lack of clarity in the guidance document regarding the role of their host organizations in supporting CPD; definition of what constitutes patient contact; the regulator should provide mentorship training, templates for reflective practice, and case studies; details of the audit and review process; accreditation of elective education courses; and the potential consequences of not fulfilling CPD requirements.

Conclusion—The study identified repetitive themes and suggested that the regulator should communicate with registrants regarding CPD activities, the audit process and the validation process for CPD credits; and that templates for case studies, reflective practice and learning portfolios be made available. Given that all participants believed that CPD was an excellent initiative, the regulator had the opportunity to address these identified practitioner concerns and thus introduce an improved system of CPD. However, these changes were not incorporated into the guidance document before it was issued formally. The regulator may have missed an opportunity to provide the basis for a future robust system of CPD for paramedics and advanced paramedics.


Bodybuilding: An Anatomical Model Project in Paramedic Education

Author: Alan Batt, MSc, GradCertICP
Associate Author: William Johnston, BA (Hons.)

Introduction—Anatomy is not sufficiently taught through books or handouts alone. The best method to teach anatomy continues to be widely debated. Previous research conducted mainly with medical students supports a model building exercise to improve anatomy knowledge retention. This research study investigated students’ perceptions on using model construction as a means to learn anatomical structures.

Methods—Paramedic students were assigned to groups, and each group was given an anatomical model to construct. These models were required to be 1) anatomically correct, and 2) useful as a teaching aid. Their perceptions of 3D modeling software and self-directed learning materials were also investigated.

Results—The survey had a 48% (n=22) response rate completing it in full. The majority of respondents (73%, n=16) enjoyed the model building and found it interesting. Half (n=11) of respondents indicated it affected their normal studying habits. Its utility
in teaching and reinforcing anatomical knowledge appears questionable, with only 9 (41%) respondents indicating they found it useful for that. However, more than 90% (n=20) agreed it was useful in aiding them to visualize anatomy in 3D. A majority (73%, n=16) indicated it was easy to work within a group to build the model. The use of additional learning resources such as 3D anatomy software and podcasts varied among the respondents.

Conclusion—The results indicate that this is a potentially useful exercise in helping students to learn anatomy. The utility of this exercise in promoting teamwork and student collaboration appears to be encouraging. Suggestions to improve the assignment included a demonstration session of all models to aid understanding and the ability to pick groups rather than being assigned.

Time for a Paradigm Shift in Paramedic Education?

Author: Frank Keane, BA, DipEMT
Associate Author: Mark Dixon, BSc, MSc

Introduction—For paramedics there is an ever-increasing extension of skills associated with their work. However, conventional didactic, protocol-driven theories dominate paramedic training. Transitioning to modern educational methodologies such as problem-based learning (PBL) has begun being accepted in similar healthcare professions. This study looked at such a process with an undergraduate paramedic cohort in Ireland’s University of Limerick (UL) and prescribes alternatives for paramedic education.

Methods—Willis, et al. (2003) document a system using PBL methodology, which remains static in its delivery over the educational timeframe. UL paramedic studies have developed this further in an escalating format in which students assimilated three stages of PBL development. Electronic cases were offered describing patient signs and symptoms; students then worked via differential diagnosis, evidence-based medicine and proposed treatment regimens to identify the morbidity and management plan. With familiarity, the complexity escalates as below:

  1. Conventional case-based format with drip-fed information
    and development.
  2. Video-driven scene development and research.
  3. Student-driven cases without reference to external media.

Cases cover the range of the educational syllabus with required learning objectives achieved through critical thinking,
assimilation of resource knowledge and sound group synergy.

Results—Post-program evaluation in the form of interviews, a group discussion and satisfaction survey demonstrates the overwhelming preference for PBL over conventional didactic lecture-based formats. This is matched by improved grade point average scores.

Conclusion—It is the opinion of the authors that a dynamic PBL model for paramedic education facilitates paramedic students in taking true ownership of their education.