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Extending the paramedic role in rural Australia: a story of flexibility and innovation
Introduction:This article identifies trends in the evolving practice of rural paramedics and describes key characteristics, roles and expected outcomes for a Rural Expanded Scope of Practice (RESP) model.
Methods: A multiple case study methodology was employed to examine the evolution of rural paramedic practice. Paramedics, volunteer ambulance officers and other health professionals were interviewed in four rural regions of south-eastern Australia where innovative models of rural paramedic practice were claimed to exist. The research team collected and thematically analysed the data using the filter of a sociological framework throughout 2005 and 2006.
Results: The study found that paramedics are increasingly becoming first line primary healthcare providers in small rural communities and developing additional professional responsibilities throughout the cycle of care. Conclusions: Adoption of the RESP model would mean that paramedics undertake four broad activities as core components of their new role: (1) rural community engagement; (2) emergency response; (3) situated practice; and (4) primary health care. The model’s key feature is a capacity to integrate existing paramedic models with other health agencies and health professionals to ensure that paramedic care is part of a seamless system that provides patients with well-organized and high quality care. This expansion of paramedics’ scope of practice offers the potential to improve patient care and the general health of rural communities.
Publication titleRural and Remote Health
Department/SchoolSchool of Nursing
PublisherAustralian Rural Health Education Network
Place of publicationPO Box 242 Deakin West, ACT 2600 Australia
Rights statementCopyright 2012 PF O'Meara, V Tourle, C Stirling, J Walker, D Pedler