A robust professional identity is a known predictor of personal and professional satisfaction and is viewed as foundational to successful practice in health occupations. Despite this, there is a gap in the research on paramedic identity (PI). Using the Macleod Clark Professional Identity Scale (MCPIS-9), the primary objective of this study was to measure the self-reported professional identity of paramedic students during their university studies. A secondary objective was to determine potential predictor variables for professional identity.
A convenience sample of 102 paramedic students at a single university campus participated in this descriptive cross sectional study. An electronic, purpose designed survey recorded demographic information, background characteristics as well as the self-reported strength of student PI using the MCPIS-9.
66.7% of participants were women and 46% were between the ages of 19–24 years; 75% reported no prior education in health care and 82% indicated paramedicine was their first choice of study. Most students (82%) had no prior paramedic-related work or volunteer experience. The mean MCPIS-9 score was 38.8/45 with a standard deviation of 4.9. There were no statistical differences associated with PI scores and demographics or background factors, however, some interesting trends were observed in the data. The only variable found as a significant predictor of MCPIS-9 scores was the student’s year of study.
Paramedic students in our study reported a strong sense of professional identity which had a tendency to increase from year-to-year. There appears to be a predictive relationship between year of study and strength of professional identity. We found that the self-reported strength of paramedic students’ identity does not specifically correlate with gender or previous education. However, those with prior paramedic type experience who selected paramedicine as their first choice of study may experience a stronger professional identity. Further studies and subsequent replication of our findings will determine whether or not we can make solid inferences from our sample to paramedic students in general.
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