Internationally, the development of emergency medical services (EMS) educational standards from a post-employment to pre-employment model has gained considerable momentum. In Saudi Arabia specifically, the evolution to university-based EMS degrees has proceeded swiftly. However, the fast pace of development has contributed to considerable disparities in educational approaches between university programs. Therefore, the development of an empirically-based core competency framework is of considerable importance. The aim of this paper is to utilise confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) through structural equation modelling to confirm the theoretically developed Saudi ParamEdic Competency Scale (SPECS) model.
A national cross-sectional study design with purposive sampling technique was utilised with Saudi Red Crescent Authority healthcare providers. The SPECS instrument included 41 core competency items measured on a self-reported Likert scale. The maximum likelihood method was used with all the one factor congeneric and complete CFA models.
In total, 477 EMS healthcare professionals contributed to the study: 444 (93.1%) men and 33 (6.9%) women. Of the participants, 282 (59.1%) were 29–39 years of age and 264 (55.3%) had 5 to 9 years’ experience. A CFA of the SPECS model confirmed five congeneric factors within the adequate fit measurement indices: professionalism, preparedness, communication, clinical, and personal. There was one higher order factor titled ‘paramedic competency’.
The CFA results support the SPECS as a reliable, valid, unidimensional and psychometrically sound model for operationalisation into Saudi university curricula. The confirmed model is made up of 27 items with five factors and an overarching latent higher order construct. The SPECS model represents an empirically developed blueprint for adoption into Saudi Arabian university programs.
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