Bachelor of Emergency Health (Paramedic) (BEH) students at Monash University undertake clinical placements to assist with the transition from student to novice paramedic. Anecdotally, students report a lack of opportunity to practise their clinical skills whilst on placements. The barriers to participation and the theory-practice gap have not been previously documented in Australian paramedic literature. The purpose of this study was to investigate the theory-practice gap for paramedic students by linking education and skill level to case exposure and skills praxis during clinical placements.
A cross-sectional retrospective study using a convenience sample of second and third year BEH undergraduate students. Ethics approval was granted.
Eighty four second and third year BEH students participated. 59.5% were female (n = 50), 40.5% were male (n = 34). Overall, students most commonly reported exposure to cardiac and respiratory cases and were satisfied with the number of cases encountered during placement. However, over half (n = 46) reported being exposed to < 50% of cases that allowed skills praxis. The most common barrier to participation (34.5%) was the opportunity to participate in patient care and 68% of student's were unsure if paramedics understood their role during clinical placements.
This study demonstrates that the majority of students were satisfied with their clinical placement experience; even though they were exposed to < 50% of cases that allowed skills practice. Identifying these educational barriers will assist in improving the quality and theory-practice gap of paramedic clinical education.