Student paramedic anticipation, confidence and fears: Do undergraduate courses prepare student paramedics for the mental health challenges of the profession?

Russell Jones, Lisa Holmes, Richard Brightwell, Lynne Cohen



This study explores the preparedness of undergraduate student paramedics for the mental health challenges of the paramedic profession from the perspective of course coordinators and their students.


Two surveys were developed and administered to course coordinators and students of the 16 undergraduate degree paramedicine courses across Australia and New Zealand. Sixteen course coordinators and 302 students responded.


Results illustrate there was widespread recognition for the need to include preparation for the mental health challenges of the profession within undergraduate courses. Furthermore, most course coordinators and students had a preference for this topic to be taught using multiple teaching modes with particular preference for teaching the topic via discussion and activity based education. Teaching the topic as a standalone unit was supported by more than a third of course coordinators (43%) and a third of students (32%).


Six themes were identified as positive by anticipants: caring for people, high acuity work, diversity of work and patients, making a difference to patients and their families, using clinical skills and knowledge and engaging with the community. Students were most confident about communicating with patients and using clinical skills and knowledge. Students were least confident about clinical decision making and the most commonly cited fear was making a clinical mistake. A significant proportion of students (16%) feared for their personal mental wellbeing and 14% reported they were least confident about personal mental health within the profession.


paramedic; pre-hospital; mental health; stress; depression; anxiety;

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The Official Journal of Paramedics Australasia © 2017                           ISSN: 2202-7270