Professionalisation was cited as one of the key drivers for the recent addition of paramedics to the National Accreditation and Regulation Scheme (NRAS) making paramedics the fifteenth health profession in the NRAS. Self-regulation inherently shifts the basis of establishing professional identity and the formal authority for determining professional standards. This has increased discussion of professionalism in paramedicine, however, professionalisation and professionalism are often poorly defined concepts with a myriad of interpretations.
A scoping review was conducted to determine the available literature about professionalism and professionalisation in paramedicine. The review utilised 10 academic databases augmented with Google and Google Scholar to capture grey literature; 2740 results were refined to 53 sources for review.
Several works on paramedic professionalisation explore elements such as autonomy and occupational characteristics. Others consider the process of professionalisation for United Kingdom (UK) and Australian paramedics. Education is discussed as a key factor in professionalism, while the increasing scope and diversity of roles in paramedicine is explored as indicative of professionalisation. Several UK papers relate professionalisation and culture to change processes within paramedicine and paramedic organisations.
Academic work on professionalisation and professionalism in paramedicine appears sporadic and may benefit from explorations of a wider range of theories. Paramedicine has been described as constantly and rapidly developing around its practitioners rather than being a stable profession where practitioners enter with clear expectations of their ongoing identity. Further work is needed to understand the process of professionalisation that paramedicine is undergoing within its cultural and professional context.
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