Background During the UK’s first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, ambulance services acted to increase capacity rapidly. One English ambulance service recruited existing supernumerary student paramedics into a new, paid, hybrid role, working as one half of a double-crewed ambulance team.
Methods Ten student paramedics and two university lecturers were interviewed remotely in one-to-one sessions with a single interviewer. Students participated from 3 of 4 partner universities, and lecturers from 2 of the 4. Their responses were transcribed and coded into a framework of the four processes of organisational entry: analysis, recruitment, selection, and induction.
Results The participants described barriers and facilitators to the success of the scheme in all four processes. Analysis: job descriptions and working conditions were not always clear to interviewees. Recruitment: some students described feeling under pressure to take part. Lecturers criticised communications, particularly around some of their student paramedics who had withdrawn from study. Selection: students were critical of some aspects of physical assessment being omitted for this new role, but later reinstated for subsequent paramedic recruitment events. Induction: most students praised the initial training and their induction onto ambulance stations, but many felt they should have been given driver training. Lecturers raised concerns that students at risk of failing in placement may not be supported adequately in this new role. Almost all participants praised the scheme’s intentions and overall delivery, and some suggested a similar role bears consideration for future business-as-usual university placements.
Conclusions Participants were broadly positive about this scheme, with some suggesting that elements of this hybrid role could feature in a post-pandemic student paramedic programme. Limitations include recall bias and response bias, particularly in that students who declined to take part in the scheme also declined to take part in this interview study.
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