Continuing professional development for paramedics: a systematic literature review


continuing professional development

How to Cite

Gent P. Continuing professional development for paramedics: a systematic literature review. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine [Internet]. 2016Nov.6 [cited 2023Jan.26];13(4). Available from:



Paramedic practice in Australia has evolved significantly over the past 20 years. With the expansion of the paramedic scope of practice and absence of registration, there is a need to determine what is known about continuing professional development (CPD) for paramedics.


Selected search terms were entered into three electronic databases to identify relevant publications.  Inclusion/exclusion criteria was applied and full texts were reviewed for potential papers. Eight publications were identified as relevant and included in the systematic literature review.


Initial search yield was 875 publications, removal of duplicate articles and application of the inclusion/exclusion criteria to title and abstract reduced this to 20 publications requiring review. This number was further reduced to eight publications, two of which were qualitative studies, a further five were quantitative design and the final study included both quantitative and qualitative data. Seven of the eight publications highlighted the importance of CPD for paramedics. The remaining article did not yield statistically significant data to conclude improved clinical practice or knowledge through the delivery of the educational intervention.


The availability of publications relating to CPD for paramedics is extremely limited. The reviewed publications reported highly variable clinical exposure and infrequent reaccreditation processes which are not currently adequately supplemented by CPD. Among the key findings in the literature was the need for increased CPD to supplement the limited clinical exposure, and for paramedics to take ownership of their own professional development. It is evident that further research into paramedicine and CPD is required.


Allied Health Professions Project: demonstrating competence through continuing professional development. United Kingdom2003. Available at:

Martin J. The challenge of introducing continuous professional development for paramedics. Journal of Emergency Primary Health Care 2006;4:7. Available at:

Woolcock M. Time for paramedic licences? Journal of Paramedic Practice 2012;4:377. Available at:‎

Tulinius C, Hølge-Hazelton B. Continuing professional development for general practitioners: supporting the development of professionalism. Med Educ 2010;44:412–20.

Hou X-Y, Rego J, Service M. Paramedic education opportunities and challenges in Australia. Emerg Med Australas 2013;25:114–9.

Linwood R, Day G, FitzGerald G, Oldenburg B. What does the literature reveal for pre-hospital emergency care in Australia? Int J Health Care Qual Assur 2006;20:405–15.

Australia NAMBO. Nursing and Midwifery Continuing Professional Development Registration Standard. 2010 [updated 4 January 2013]. Available at:

Wood K. Integrating clinical research into paramedic practice: current trends and influences. Journal of Paramedic Practice 2012;4:502–8. Available at:‎

Miller A, Archer J. Impact of workplace based assessment on doctors’ education and performance: a systematic review. Br Med J 2010;341:888–91.

Vrotsos K, Pirrallo R, Guse C, Aufderheide T. Does the number of system paramedics affects clinical benchmark threshold? Prehosp Emerg Care 2008;12:302–6.

Pollock MJ, Brown LH, Dunn KA. The perceived importance of paramedic skills and the emphasis they receive during EMS education programs. Prehosp Emerg Care 1997;1:263–8.

Deakin CD, King P, Thompson F. Prehospital advanced airway management by ambulance technicians and paramedics: is clinical practice sufficient to maintain skills? Emerg Med J 2009;26:888–91.

Cooper S. Contemporary UK paramedical training and education. How do we train? How should we educate? ibid. 2005;22:375–9.

Knox S, Cullen W, Collins N, Dunne C. First evaluation of CPD advanced paramedic teaching methods in Ireland. Journal of Paramedic Practice 2013;5:29–35. Available at:

Brink P, Bäck-Pettersson Siv, Sernert N. Group supervision as a means of developing professional competence within pre-hospital care. Int Emerg Nurs 2012;20:76–82.

Siriwardena AN, Iqbal M, Banerjee S, Spaight A, Stephenson J. An evaluation of an educational intervention to reduce inappropriate cannulation and improve cannulation technique by paramedics. Emerg Med J 2009;26:831–6.

French SC, Salama NP, Bacqai S, Raslavicus S, Ramaker J, Chan SB. Effects of an Educational Intervention on Prehospital Pain Management. Prehosp Emerg Care 2006;10:71–6.