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Australian paramedic graduate attributes: a pilot study using exploratory factor analysis


Background The Australian healthcare system at all levels is under increasing pressure. The Australian paramedic discipline has seen a remarkable change in a number of areas including education, training, healthcare identity and clinical practice, particularly over the past three decades. Preparing future healthcare graduates for these expected changes therefore requires careful alignment of graduate attributes to core curriculum.

Objectives To establish which graduate attributes best meet the current and future needs of the Australian paramedic discipline.

Methods A convenience sample was used for the pilot study involving context experts from paramedic education and training sectors in Australia. Participants rated 56 items using a Likert scale on a paper-based self-reporting questionnaire. Exploratory factor analysis was undertaken on 50 items using principal components analysis (PCA) followed by varimax rotation.

Findings A total of 63 content and knowledge experts participated in the study; 40 (63.5%) were male and 23 (36.5%) were female, with 28 (44%) aged 35–44 years. PCA of the 50 items revealed 10 factors with eigenvalues >1, accounting for 77.3% of the total variance. Items with loadings more than ±0.40 with the factor in question were used to characterise the factor solutions.

Conclusions It is critical that empirically-based paramedic graduate attributes are developed and agreed upon by both the industry and teaching institutions. Until this occurs, the national standardisation, accreditation and benchmarking of Australian paramedic education programmes will not be possible.

  • Graduate attributes
  • higher education
  • paramedic
  • professionalisation
  • registration
  • clinical assessment
  • education
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