Indigenous people have poorer health outcomes and are under-represented in the general healthcare workforce. This study aims to: i) quantify Māori participation in paramedic education and the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workforce in New Zealand, ii) compare these with reported Māori participation rates across healthcare education and the general healthcare workforce, and iii) identify factors that may promote or inhibit Māori engagement in the sector.
Providers of tertiary paramedic education and EMS systems were surveyed and relevant literature was reviewed.
Māori averaged 7.5% of total enrolments in tertiary paramedic education over a 5 year period and, in 2013, represented 5% of the total EMS workforce.
The literature review included 14 publications. Māori participation across the general healthcare workforce is low. Factors promoting Māori tertiary enrolment include the desires to attain a career, enhance Māori health and have a steady income. Barriers inhibiting academic studies include inadequate support, low academic and socio-economic backgrounds and the absence of a culturally safe learning environment. Aspects promoting workforce engagement include clear career pathways, support for workforce development, having role-models, mentors and leaders in the profession, and working in a culturally supportive environment.
Māori are significantly under-represented in the EMS sector and further research is required to determine which factors promote and inhibit participation. Recruitment and retention processes should be reviewed by employers and educators and teaching strategies within paramedic programmes reconsidered. Initiatives aimed at engaging Māori in the health workforce should ensure they promote paramedicine as a potential career choice.
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