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Education and clinical professional development in Penang, Malaysia

02 September 2018
Volume 8 · Issue 2



This study considers the impact of the Intermediate Ambulance Care (IAC) Course on the development of pre-hospital care practice in Penang, Malaysia and considers how the course contributes to professional development. The research question asks what impact the education programme has had on a rapidly changing emergency medical service.


Using a qualitative methodology—focused ethnography—data were collected from interviews, participation and observation of pre-hospital emergency care providers and medical professionals in Penang, Malaysia.


Four themes were identified which describe how the participants' values and beliefs contribute to the increasing professionalisation of their role in health care.


As well as increasing paramedic knowledge, there was an observable change in participants' values and beliefs about pre-hospital care and health outcomes. This has contributed to the professional development currently being experienced in pre-hospital care in Penang, Malaysia.

The Intermediate Ambulance Care (IAC) course is a 30-week ambulance training programme offered in Penang, Malaysia. It was designed to improve the clinical education of ambulance practitioners and forms part of many different training opportunities of varying quality in the region. The question that this research aims to address is: what is the impact of the IAC on the emerging professionalisation of pre-hospital care in Penang, Malaysia?

Using a focused ethnographic approach, this research considered the programme's contribution to professional development, enabling comment on how such programmes could improve future service provision.

Pre-hospital care is an interprofessional and intersectorial service that transects many areas of health care. Emergency health care has not been well-regarded, nor considered a distinct specialty in its own right in many countries; yet in some systems, it is an integral part of primary, secondary and, in some cases, tertiary health models (Tippett et al, 2008). While this may be the case in some healthcare systems considered developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) (2018), the same cannot be said for others, let alone those that are still considered to be developing.

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