Since 2018, paramedics in Australia have been self-regulated under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) for health professionals. While paramedics and other health practitioners are self-regulated in many jurisdictions internationally, there has been little study of the impact on practitioners of the introduction of new regulatory frameworks.
Paramedics undertook a survey in the month leading up the commencement of self-regulation collecting both qualitative and quantitative data. The survey was completed by 419 participants. This paper explores the analysis of quantitative data. Key results were cross-tabulated with demographic factors.
Participants indicated they had good broad knowledge of the regulatory scheme but were less confident on more detailed aspects. Most believed that patient safety and practitioner accountability will improve with registration however results were less clear on changes in scope, remuneration or employment opportunities. Questions on identity indicated that the primary factors in paramedic identity construction were employment status, qualifications and scope with impending registration the least important factor. Overall, 59% of participants supported self-regulation, however 25% indicated they held negative views. When cross-tabulated with demographics, years of service and initial qualification (vocational vs university) showed relationships with support for regulation.
The introduction of self-regulation represents significant change to both the governance of paramedics and entry to the profession. Uncertainty By some is indicative of the unique nature and impact of the change. However, there is wide agreement that the scheme will increase safety and accountability which are the key aims of professional regulation.
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