This article discusses the role of Theories-of-Practice for health care professionals and specifically focuses on the need for such theories in the paramedic profession. Key benefits to the development of paramedic theory include occupational differentiation and self-awareness, and identification of appropriate research topics.
Almost all paramedic research, training and practice are focused on specific patient care assessments and interventions. A quick perusal of any Emergency Medical Service or prehospital care journal will reveal an impressive list of research articles that are focused on demonstrating the value (or absence thereof) of patient care procedures. This is important work, and indeed such research is required in order to appropriately define the medical aspects of paramedics’ scopes-of-practice. However, there is an equally important need to research and develop theory about the whole practice of paramedicine as a profession. This perspective is different from narrowly focusing on discrete, technical patient care interventions, because it seeks to define the occupation more comprehensively, inclusive of all types of professional knowledge. When considering professional matters such as these, one cannot avoid comparisons to other professions and the interest in such theories among other health professions has been variable.