Starting the conversation: What are the issues for paramedic student clinical education?

How to Cite

O’Meara P, Hickson H, Huggins C. Starting the conversation: What are the issues for paramedic student clinical education?. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine [Internet]. 2014Jul.24 [cited 2021Dec.8];11(4). Available from:



This paper examines the issues that affect the quality of paramedic student clinical placements. Participants included paramedics, paramedic educators, paramedic students and ambulance service managers who had gathered for an Australian conference in Bendigo in central Victoria. The aim of this paper is to highlight issues identified by the participants and to start a conversation about the importance of clinical placement for paramedic students.


This was a qualitative study utilising ‘Community conversations’ as a research methodology. ‘Community conversations’ is an action research approach. This study had 53 participants, who spent around 5 hours in conversation throughout a 3-day conference. The conversation initiated was to discuss and raise issues that related to paramedic student clinical placements, and identify creative and innovative solutions.


In this paper, we focus on three themes that emerged from the conversations: planning and preparation of the placement; continuity of placement experience; and diversity of placements. We argue that better communication is required between the university, the ambulance service, the paramedic educator/clinical instructor and the student.


Clinical education is an essential element of student learning and skill development, yet in Australia there are no mandatory requirements in relation to duration, content or measurement of quality in student clinical placements. We strongly recommend that continuity is an essential element of a quality clinical placement and argue that students should be allocated to work in one location for 1–2 week blocks.


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