Interpersonal communication skills are essential to the healthcare practitioner aiding in high quality, effective and safe clinical practice. Effective communication exerts a positive influence on the patient’s physical and emotional status resulting in better patient outcomes and satisfaction. By identifying strengths and weaknesses, self-assessment of interpersonal communication skills can be used as an intervention tool to inform future curriculum renewal. The objective of this study was to identify paramedic students’ perceptions of their interpersonal communication competence.
Second year paramedic students from Monash University (Victoria) were invited to participate in a survey that asked them to record perceptions of their interpersonal communication skills using the Interpersonal Communication Competence Scale (ICCS). The ICCS is a 30-item unipolar questionnaire using a Likert scale ranging from 1 (almost never) to 5 (almost always). Mean and standard deviations (SD) were used to report results.
ResultsFifty-six second year paramedic students participated in the study. Participants were predominantly aged less than 25 years (85.7%) and male n=36 (64.3%).
Students reported ‘often’ or ‘almost always’ for the items: ‘I put myself in others’ shoes’, n=46 (82%), mean=3.98 (SD 0.59); and, ‘I let others know that I understand what they say’, n=45 (80%), mean=3.96 (SD 0.66). Students reported ‘sometimes’, ‘often’ or ‘almost always’, for the items: ‘I have trouble convincing others to do what I want them to do’, n=55 (98%), mean=3.5 (SD 0.63); and, ‘My mind wanders during conversations’, n=41 (73%), mean=3.05 (SD 0.88).
Preliminary results suggest that student paramedics self-report their interpersonal communication skills highly apart from areas related to assertiveness and listening skills. These results could be indicative of student age, personality or experience level and warrant further research with larger sample sizes.
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