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Extending the paramedic role in rural Australia: a story of flexibility and innovation


O'Meara, PF and Tourle, V and Stirling, C and Walker, J and Pedler, D, Extending the paramedic role in rural Australia: a story of flexibility and innovation, Rural and Remote Health, 12, (2) Article 1978. ISSN 1445-6354 (2012) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2012 PF O'Meara, V Tourle, C Stirling, J Walker, D Pedler

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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.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ambulance, paramedic, expanded scope, rural workforce
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Health and community services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Rural and remote area health
UTAS Author:Stirling, C (Professor Christine Stirling)
ID Code:79161
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:37
Deposited By:Health Sciences B
Deposited On:2012-08-20
Last Modified:2018-01-23
Downloads:15 View Download Statistics

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