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How report writing supports paramedic students' learning

02 March 2020
Volume 10 · Issue 1


Writing skills are critical as emergency medical services (EMS) use them to support patient care, yet limited research supports EMS writing practice and pedagogy. The field of writing studies and its sub-field of technical communication offers theories and methods to understand these skills. Grounded in writing theory, this article reports on a longitudinal study about paramedic documentation training and uses the framework of ‘threshold concepts’: ideas, knowledge, and skills writers gain that transform learning. This study collected paramedic students' writing over 2 years, and participants also completed interviews and focus groups. Grounded theory and textual analysis guided data analysis. Findings suggest that paramedic students pass through significant learning thresholds when they write during field training, including developing expertise, audience awareness, and reflection. In turn, writing provides an opportunity for paramedic students to learn critical skills. This article provides assignment ideas that training programmes can use to harness writing's transformative power.

The importance of report writing in paramedic practice in the United States (US) is well-known (Munger, 2000; Ho et al, 2017; Konya, 2017). Providers write reports daily to document medical decision-making and support the continuum of patient care, making writing a vital paramedic skill (AlShammari et al, 2018). Despite its importance in the emergency medical services (EMS) workplace, limited research into EMS writing practices, processes, and pedagogy exist. Current pieces about report writing focus on the end product, the patient care report (PCR), which details expectations associated with well-written reports: they are correct, concise, clear, complete, concrete, courteous, effective, and professional (Cebollero, 2013; Eaton, 2014). Teaching practices that support providers' report writing processes and disciplinary learning are less well understood. This piece uses the framework of threshold concepts to help EMS educators understand how writing can help develop providers' practice. It ends with suggestions for integrating writing opportunities into paramedic training.

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