The scope of paramedic practice is being redefined and expanded. Professional development and clinical expertise are not only necessary for paramedics to perform their clinical functions and operational responsibilities, they are at the very core of their professionalisation. Professionalisation is a complex process, and the degree to which it can accomplished will impact society’s perception of the profession – and its trust in it – for years to come. This study investigated ways to enhance professional practice, from the point of view of the main healthcare providers in a rural area of Ontario, Canada.
A qualitative analysis informed by action research methodology was used. The research design was staged and consisted of focus groups and a World Café. The data were coded and organised into themes, using thematic analysis, and were triangulated with the literature.
Three key themes emerged from the World Café and focus group conversations including current enablers of professionalisation; system components that promote professionalism; and community of practice to support professional development and clinical expertise.
Paramedic practice is evolving. This should be reflected in clinical practice and education, and more paramedic-led research. Paramedic training may need to move from the college to the university environment to reflect equal standing with colleagues in the broader healthcare system. This study shows strong motivation among paramedics and management to enhance professional practice and professionalism. To achieve this, a culture of trust, developing engagement and communication strategies and establishing a community of practice are crucial.
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