‘It's been one of the best experiences of my life.’ This was a comment recently made to me by one of our final year paramedic students following an experiential placement in the Schleswig-Holstein region of Northern Germany.
Empathy is an important factor in communication between healthcare provider and patient. Previous studies have shown that empathy benefits patient care in multiple ways. Empathy allows a space of decreased vulnerability and, as a result, builds trust in healthcare relationships. It fosters open communication that leads to improved patient care; improves patient satisfaction; and buffers healthcare provider burnout. This study aimed to determine the empathy levels demonstrated by paramedic students to patients with various medical conditions, and to compare these findings with those of previous studies.
This study employed a cross-sectional design of a convenience sample of first and second year paramedic students in a community college programme in Ontario, Canada. The Medical Condition Regard Scale (MCRS) was used to measure empathy levels in these students across five medical conditions: physical disability, intellectual disability, suicide attempt, mental health emergency, and substance abuse.
A total of 43 students participated in the study; 27 males and 15 females (1 unknown). Males demonstrated a mean empathy score of 232.44 while females demonstrated a mean of 266.4. Across the five medical conditions, substance abuse had the lowest mean empathy score (42.88), followed by mental health emergency (49.58), suicide attempt (49.47), intellectual disability (50.42) and physical disability (53.0).
Results from this study suggest that paramedic students demonstrated the lowest levels of empathy towards patients suffering from substance abuse issues, and the highest levels of empathy towards patients with a physical disability. Male paramedic students are less empathetic than their female peers, and second year paramedic students are less empathetic than their first year counterparts. These results provide an insight into paramedic student attitudes in Canada, and provide a foundation for further studies.
Burnout has consistently been identified as an issue in health professionals, with paramedics in particular frequently noted to have high burnout rates.
The current study aimed to describe the prevalence of total work burnout in Australian paramedics and of three subcategories: personal, work-related and patient-related burnout.
This cross-sectional online survey presented the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI) to a national convenience sample (<i>n</i>=893) over a 5-week period from April–May 2015. The primary outcome was prevalence of total burnout (%). Secondary outcomes were prevalence of subgroups of burnout and predictive factors.
More than half (55.9%) of respondents were determined to have total burnout at the time of completing the survey; 43.4% had patient-related burnout; 62.7% had work-related burnout; and 69.1% had personal-related burnout. Females, metropolitan work location, and having worked for 15–19 years as a paramedic were all predictive of total burnout.
The study showed high prevalence of total burnout among this sample of Australian paramedics.
Elective placements are a relatively new aspect of paramedic practice, with few opportunities for student paramedics to experience this internationally. This article shares reflections from a student's perspective gained from experience of a 3-week elective placement in Johannesburg, South Africa, working on a frontline ambulance and fast response vehicle. It explores international differences in paramedic practice, reviews two case studies and discusses the importance of scene management and how diagnostic overshadowing can influence care. Furthermore, the different scope of practice and approach to health care in South Africa as compared with the UK where the author is based is investigated, depicting how cultural differences can affect not only the treatment available, but also the impact on patient morbidity and mortality. A transcultural awareness of prehospital practice is beneficial for gaining new perspectives on the management of unique patients and varied situations in the prehospital setting, allowing for the ongoing development of future paramedic practice.
The 4th annual JUST Paramedic International Conference at Jordan University of Science and Technology took place last month in November 2018.