Question: Im not comfortable having to make critical decisions in the field, on calls that are few and far between, yet serious in nature. Is SWORBHP doing anything along with MOHLTC to advocate for regular training days to be a part of our regular schedule and duties? I'm all for continuing self-study, however, since so much of our job is practical application, dont you think it is wise to give your paramedics practical practice? As an aside, in my opinion, insufficient funds is an unacceptable excuse not to. Fire and Police have always had ample training time, and we are just as important to public welfare. So could it be possible for all parties to come together and find the funds necessary? Thank you for creating this site and allowing me to put this issue forward.
Well first, thank you for submitting this question. If you are feeling this way, for certain other paramedics within the SWORBHP region feel the same.
Short answer: we completely agree with you. We do think it is wise for more "practical practice" and we wish we had more education time with all the paramedics within the SWORBHP region. In fact, planning for this coming year's recert day is already well under way and we are looking at implementing a practical "skills review" as part of the day to meet this very need you describe.
In the interim, if a paramedic is not feeling comfortable making critical decisions in the field, what are their options?
First, the educators at SWORBHP and the Medical Directors need to hear from you. Paramedics should not fear deactivation or decertification from the BH if a paramedic highlights that they feel a need for further education. The time has come for this culture of fear to end. This is all about patient safety. What is the worst that is going to happen? We are not your employer; all we can do is educate you until we have exhausted every opportunity. We would much rather hear from you now before a quality assurance investigation uncovers an adverse event.
Depending upon the perceived need and situation, SWORBHP can team you with a Regional Paramedic Educator for scenario/skill review and/or Medical Directors are willing to have paramedics accompany them on emergency department shifts where various clinical situations can be reviewed and discussed in real time.
In some services, service educators/peer mentors are another option if paramedics are still apprehensive about approaching the BH.
If it were up to us, the SWORBHP would prefer to have far greater hours to provide you with "practical practice" as you request. With that said, not every paramedic wants this as you would seem to prefer (and we wish more paramedics felt the same as you!). Some paramedics view this "practical practice" as testing and we all know how paramedics dislike tests!
As much as you don't want to talk about funding, it is an issue. Paramedics are paid to be educated. Base Hospital Programs are funded to provide only a certain number of hours per year to each paramedic. The Program Manager from SWORBHP and a Medical Director from the Provincial MAC have been lobbying the MOHLTC-EHS and are creating a business case for more training dollars for more class time for paramedics. The scope of practice and sophistication of the Medical Directives have been increasing exponentially for years and we think (like you do) that the time has come for more training hours.
In fairness, we also have a problem when we provide education in a voluntary fashion with little turn out. When SWORBHP provides webinars, rounds or other CE opportunities like on Stroke etc€¦.turn out is poor. Our typical webinar which takes hours and hours to prepare to ensure the information is evidence based and current usually has 40-50 paramedics log in out of the 1300-1400 paramedics within the SWORBHP region.
Bottom line: let us help you. We often don't know the paramedic in need of further education until it is too late!