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Clinical placements: Putting theory into practice for paramedic students

Linda Ross, Ryan Bennett, Chantal Perera.


Objective: Clinical placements are integral to the education and development of paramedic students and are often cited as providing opportunities for students to apply knowledge and practice clinical skills. Clinical placements also serve to inform students about the realities of the paramedic profession. The objective of this study was to examine the prominent clinical themes identified by undergraduate paramedic students following experiences on clinical placement. Methods: This study employed a cross-sectional methodology using online discussion forum to elicit common clinical themes encountered by students during clinical placements. A convenience sample of 116 2nd year Bachelor of Emergency Health (Paramedic) students from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia was eligible to participate in the study. Results: A thematic analysis of the online posts revealed three main themes: Cannulation, resuscitation and experience. The three themes were selected based on the frequency of discussion and the level of importance placed on them by the students. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that a variety of clinical themes emerge from involvement in clinical placements. Students identified that skills such as intravenous cannulation, resuscitation including compressions, ventilation and airway management differed in application compared to what is practiced at university. The experience gained from clinical placements was consistently reported as beneficial, as placements allow exposure to the real aspects of emergency health, aid in consolidation of theory, and provide opportunities to investigate patients’ conditions. Educators may use these results for future curriculum and placement planning in order to optimize the student’s experience on clinical placement.

Key words: Clinical placement, paramedic student, theory and practice

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