Australian paramedic understanding of the purpose of continuing professional development (CPD) and mandatory CPD requirements - A qualitative study using a doctrinal framework for comparative analysis

Annabel Bennett, Natalia Bilton, Rob Bear, Ruth Townsend

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Abstract

Introduction: In 2018, paramedicine became registered under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (Reed et al., 2019). This national register of healthcare professionals is regulated by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act (2009). As part of professional registration, Australian paramedics are now obliged to adhere to professional registration standards including continued professional development (CPD) (Williams & Edlington, 2019). This study examined the Australian paramedic understanding of the purpose of CPD and how this related to the professionalisation of paramedicine in Australia.
Methods: This was an exploratory, qualitative study which used purposive sampling to recruit seven paramedics registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to participate in semi-structured interviews conducted over Zoom. Standard thematic analysis was used to analyse the qualitative data collected during the interviews. The second phase of this study involved a doctrinal analysis of the legal documents pertaining to CPD found on the AHPRA and paramedicine board of Australia (PBA) websites.
Results: Three overarching themes and one central theme emerged after thematic analysis of the interview transcripts. The overarching themes were 1) ‘demonstration of commitment to professionalism’, 2) ‘misunderstandings’ and 3) ‘is the current system the answer?’ These themes culminated in one central theme of ‘conflicting interests.’ The doctrinal analysis produced an outline of the legal doctrine concerning the obligations regarding paramedic CPD in Australia and showed that the overarching purpose for paramedics to complete the mandatory CPD requirements is to safeguard patients and for practitioners to put patients’ interests above their own self-interest.
Discussion/Conclusions: The results highlighted some novel perspectives on how Australian paramedics currently understand the purpose of CPD. The paramedics were generally welcoming of the idea of registration and mandatory CPD and felt that this would be a positive step forward in the progression of paramedicine in Australia. However, when it came to
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completing CPD there was a missing link in understanding that the CPD requirements formed part of their professional responsibilities to put their patients’ interests above their own. Further research on how Australian paramedics understand CPD and other professional obligations would be beneficial as paramedicine continues its journey to professionalisation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages71
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2022

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