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FAQ: Professional capabilities

The Paramedicine Board of Australia (the Board) has published professional capabilities for registered paramedics that establish and benchmark the entry-level capabilities expected of paramedics. The Professional capabilities for registered paramedics outline the knowledge, skills and attributes a paramedic needs to practise safely and competently, and they describe the threshold of professional capability required for both initial and continuing registration.

From 1 June 2021, these capabilities will apply to all paramedics seeking to qualify for registration and will form the basis for both the education and competency testing of paramedics. They will also be the benchmark of paramedic capability.

The Board initially adopted an interim set of capabilities largely based on the well-established capabilities published by the Council of Ambulance Authorities and the most recently developed capabilities published by other National Boards in the National Regulation and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme). While some aspects of paramedic capabilities are specific to paramedics, many general capabilities are shared with other health professions.

The Board carried out wide-ranging consultation to seek stakeholder comment and feedback on the interim set of capabilities. Because of stakeholder feedback, the capabilities have been further developed and improved but overall, they are broadly consistent with those initially adopted by the Board. The changes made aim to ensure clarity, their relevance to contemporary paramedicine practice and emphasise the importance of cultural safety in the paramedicine, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Because the capabilities set the entry-level standard for registration as a paramedic, they play an important role in things including:

  • the education and training of paramedics in approved programs of study
  • assessing the competency of paramedics applying for registration
  • assessing the competency of paramedics, subject to conditions on their registration, and
  • assessing the competency of registered paramedics, subject to complaints about their professional performance.

The capabilities are grouped into the key domains of professional paramedic practice. In each domain, there is a list of statements that identify the scope of capabilities paramedics must show. Further information and examples of guidance as to how such capability may be shown is also provided.

The capabilities are not a list of the procedures carried out by paramedics or a list of tasks. Paramedics will routinely show elements from several domains but perhaps not all, and it is important to remember that competent paramedic practise is not a tick the box exercise. It is the ability to draw on and integrate a breadth of capability, knowledge and understanding to affect a specific situation’s appropriate outcome.
It is also important to understand that every paramedic’s professional practice can be unique to their specific circumstances and practice environment.

Domain one is the paramedic as the professional ethical practitioner. It describes a paramedic’s responsibility to be professional and ethical and to practise with accountability and autonomy within the current medicolegal legal framework. Key elements of this domain include:

  • compliance with legal and statutory requirements
  • understanding healthcare systems
  • ensuring cultural safety, and
  • displaying appropriate professional behaviours and patient advocacy.

Domain two is the paramedic as the communicator and collaborator. It describes the paramedic’s responsibility to use appropriate, clear and effective communication, and it addresses their responsibility to ensure that they work effectively with other healthcare team members. Key elements of this domain include:

  • using clear, sensitive and relevant communication, and
  • collaboration with other health care team members

It is important to remember that depending on the circumstances, healthcare team members may or may not be other registered health professionals, e.g. emergency workers, and a competent paramedic must ensure clear and effective and appropriate communication with all members of a healthcare team.

Domain three is the paramedic as the evidence-based practitioner. This describes a paramedic's responsibility to engage in evidence-based practise and to critically monitor their own actions through a range of reflective processes, including planning and engaging with continuous professional development.

The key elements of this domain include:

  • evidence-based decision-making
  • clinical reasoning and problem solving using appropriate knowledge and resources to make decisions and judgments, and
  • identify and engage with ongoing professional learning.

Domain four is the paramedic as the safety and risk management practitioner. This describes a paramedic’s responsibility to protect themselves, their patients and others from harm by responding to the practice environment’s risks.

Key elements of this domain include:

  • protecting and enhancing the safety of self, patients and others
  • practising effectively in an emergency environment
  • reflection on the effectiveness of professional practice, and
  • participating in the mentoring teaching and development of others.

Domain five is the paramedic being the paramedicine practitioner. Whereas other domains could be broadly applicable across most other healthcare professions, this domain describes the paramedicine profession-specific knowledge skills and capabilities expected of a registered paramedic.

Key elements of this domain include:

  • using patient information systems
  • patient assessment, diagnosis and management
  • emergency management and the core scholarly knowledge required to underpin modern paramedic practice.
Page reviewed 12/05/2021