Paramedic undergraduate mental health clinical placement: Does it help prepare for practice?

Phoebe Thornberry, Natalia Bilton, Rob Bear

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Abstract

Abstract
Introduction
This is an explorative and evaluative quantitative study that assesses the educational value of paramedic students participating in a mental health placement initiative. This study was conducted to determine if a mental health placement should be integrated into the Paramedicine degree at Charles Sturt University. This was with the aim of equipping future paramedics with a higher standard of mental health literacy and education that can be translated into practice. Current literature supports the need for further mental health education in the paramedicine field, although a significant gap exists in the research regarding whether specific mental health work-integrated learning placement experiences would be effective in achieving this. As the prevalence of mental health presentations in the community rises, this study aims to address this gap and provide evidence of a way to address the growing need for skill acquisition in this field for paramedics.
Methods
Eight paramedic students completed a pilot placement in an inpatient mental health unit as a part of their Paramedic Non-Emergency Community Internship hours. Following this experience, students were invited via email to participate in an online questionnaire relating to their experience. The survey was a validated and pre-published clinical placement assessment questionnaire that collects Likert-type scale responses. Data collected focused on the student’s educational experiences and was reviewed and analysed to determine the effectiveness and educational value of the placement.
Results
Seven out of the eight students that attended the placement responded to the survey giving a response rate of 87.5%. Primary data analysis was initially conducted. Measures of central tendency were calculated by finding both the mode and the median for each question. Frequencies were then found to measure the variability and distribution of the data. Secondary statistical analysis was then conducted to determine if there was a correlation between responses to questions. The results demonstrated an overwhelmingly positive student response toward the placement, supporting the hypothesis that the initiative was a positive experience for students.
Discussion/Conclusion
When reflecting on this study, and comparing and contrasting the results with the literature, multiple positive conclusions were drawn. The placement was found to enhance the professional growth of students and develop industry readiness. Furthermore, not only was student confidence in the field of mental health found to improve, but their clinical skills were also enhanced. The evaluation of the placement was overwhelmingly positive with definite educational value identified for participating students. The results of this study, therefore, demonstrate and support the benefits of integrating a specific mental health placement into the paramedicine degree. This study has also demonstrated further positive implications which could be translated into the field of paramedicine and paramedic education.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages64
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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