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Local socioeconomic status and paramedic students' academic performance

02 June 2020
Volume 10 · Issue 2

Abstract

Research indicates that students of lower socioeconomic status are educationally disadvantaged. This study sought to examine differences in paramedic students' academic performance from counties with varied socioeconomic status in the United States of America. Student performance data and socioeconomic status data were combined for counties within the states of California, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia. Linear multiple regression modelling was performed to determine the relationship between income, high school graduation rate, poverty and food insecurity, with first-attempt scores on the Fisdap Paramedic Readiness Exam versions 3 and 4. Linear regression models indicated that there was a significant relationship between county-level income, poverty, graduation rate, food insecurity, and paramedic student academic performance. It remains unclear what type of relationship exists between individual socioeconomic status and individual academic performance of paramedic students. These findings support the future collection of individual student socioeconomic data to identify issues and mitigate impact on academic performance.

With over 50 million Americans living at or below the poverty line (Oxfam, 2019), poverty is a social issue that is endemic across the United States of America (USA). Those living in poverty face challenges in accessing healthcare, education and food—things many take for granted. In addition, over 50 million Americans are food-insecure, meaning they lack consistent access to enough food to lead an active, healthy life (Gundersen, 2013). This results in children and students going to bed hungry at night. Often times, a school breakfast will be their only meal for the day. Living in poverty means these students are less likely to finish high school or college, which may further influence their lifestyle as adults, including job prospects, decisions around diet, recreational activities, and substance use (Lacour and Tissington, 2011; Ladd, 2012). In addition, poverty and low socioeconomic status (SES) are associated with visible low social status, and this can be a source of intrinsic chronic stress, increasing vulnerability to distress and potentially destructive coping mechanisms (Mulia et al, 2008).

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