Telling stories out of school: Experiencing the paramedic's oral traditions and role dissonance

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Role dissonance is an uncomfortable experience for graduate paramedics, and some blame their university education for the problem. For paramedics the conflict is between identifying as a rescuer and acting largely as a care giver. With vocational pathways into so many uniformed professions closing down in preference for graduate entrants, young new professionals have to negotiate a rapidly changing work culture. Their older colleagues may be challenged and threatened by the new order. For paramedics the problem is compounded by the newness of its place in the tertiary landscape. Since 9/11 young people have been increasingly attracted to rescue roles. Yet in Australia there is increasing need and scope for health workers in remote and aging populations, a preference not immediately attractive to young people hoping for a more heroic future. While the near professions such as nursing have established their discourses around culture, role and pedagogy, paramedics is still trying to chisel its identity. The myths of paramedic glories past tend to add to the confusion of graduates. Due to a lack of empirical studies of non-clinical aspects of paramedicine, a bricolage methodology was used to refresh data from two discrete qualitative research projects conducted in 2011. Both projects had originally been interested in optimal paramedic preceptorship before and after graduation, but neither had explored the implicit theme which revealed the role of rescue experiences in paramedic culture and identity. The bricolage included a new search of literature from near professions and applied new theoretical frameworks to the analysis of the extant data, to demonstrate how storytelling as an element of paramedic collegiality perpetuates rescue stories that are then used to define paramedic work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-739
Number of pages6
JournalNurse Education in Practice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


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