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Work integrated learning in Vanuatu: student perspectives

02 March 2019
Volume 9 · Issue 1



Non-traditional work integrated learning (WIL) experiences have become increasingly popular within undergraduate paramedicine programmes, partly because WIL is considered a valid pedagogy that contributes to the integration of clinical and supporting science capabilities.


This paper builds upon previous WIL evaluation activities to determine whether an international WIL experience in Vanuatu provided a useful clinical and cultural learning experience for undergraduate paramedicine students.


A 60-question survey was administered to participants, with questions chiefly focusing on clinical and cultural experiences during this overseas trip. Survey response frequencies have been presented and free-text responses have been used to provide further descriptive detail.


This international WIL experience appears to have provided a very useful clinical and cultural learning experience for undergraduate paramedicine students.


Consideration should be given to further evaluation activities, and the development of a validated survey instrument, to more effectively measure the quality of non-traditional WIL programmes.

Significant clinical, health system and societal changes over the past three decades have been associated with remarkable developments in the paramedic profession (Williams et al, 2010; Bowles et al, 2017, 2). Frontline paramedics—once expected to rigidly follow clinical protocols—are now required to possess a ‘deep clinical understanding that supports clinical decision-making’ (Brooks et al, 2016). They are required to intervene in lower-acuity, chronic and complex conditions because ‘less serious “undifferentiated” primary care type cases [now dominate] the case mix’ (College of Paramedics 2017, 51). They must also master the supporting sciences in order to effectively care for patients within communities that are increasingly more socially and culturally diverse (Willis et al, 2010; Ford et al, 2014). The importance of the supporting sciences and related attributes has been previously reported upon extensively (e.g. Willis et al, 2010; Williams et al, 2010; Lazarsfeld-Jensen, 2010). In a study aiming to ‘establish which graduate attributes best meet the current and future needs of the Australian paramedic discipline’, Williams et al (2010) identified that the most important graduate attributes were those relating to soft skills, such as being ‘non-judgemental and non-discriminatory … trustworthy, caring, empathetic, self-aware and respectful of others' (Williams et al, 2010; Ford et al, 2014). When discussing the notion of professional practice across multiple professions, Higgs (2016) further highlights the centrality of these attributes:

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