Operationalising the multidimensional role of the paramedic preceptor

Hamish Carver, Ann Lazarsfeld-Jensen

Abstract


Introduction
This study reports on a subset of findings from a recent doctoral study by the first author, which explored the lived experience of being a paramedic preceptor to novice paramedics in their first year of on-road practice.

Methods
A qualitative methodology underpinned by Gadamerian hermeneutics was chosen for this study. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with a purposive sample of 11 paramedic preceptors from an Australian government-funded ambulance service. Interviews were audio-recorded and data analysis proceeded from the interview transcripts.

Results
Analysis revealed the paramedic preceptor to be a complex, multidimensional role that is operationalised within four key domains: coach, role model, socialiser and protector. Expectedly, a core function of being a paramedic preceptor is that of coach, supporting and scaffolding novices as they learn to apply theoretical knowledge in practice. Preceptors also appear to play an integral role in the professional socialisation of new employees, and are an important role model of professional behaviours and an empathetic healthcare provider. The paramedic preceptors in this study also viewed their role as a critical advocate for patient safety in the clinical practice environment. Advocacy and protection by the preceptor extended to the novice too, safeguarding their physical and emotional wellbeing during the learning process.

Conclusion
To our knowledge, this is the first study to specifically explore paramedic preceptorship from the perspective of preceptors in an Australian context. Therefore it provides an important contribution to understanding how paramedic preceptors operationalise this educative role in the clinical practice environment.


Keywords


paramedic; preceptor; preceptorship; education

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