Paramedic students angry as hands-on experience halved

EMERGENCY: A man was transported to Kingaroy Hospital with acid burns to his face and arms.
EMERGENCY: A man was transported to Kingaroy Hospital with acid burns to his face and arms.

UNIVERSITY of the Sunshine Coast final-year paramedic students have had their clinical placement hours halved because of "insufficient shifts available" with the Queensland Ambulance Service.

USC paramedic science students received an email from Paramedic Science Associate Professor Bill Lord on Wednesday, saying clinical placement time would be cut to six weeks, but they would have 40 hours of simulation in second semester.

"As previously revealed, there are insufficient shifts available within the Queensland Ambulance Service (including patient-transport shifts) to place all students under the previous model," he said in the email. "This is despite the significant work that staff have undertaken to remedy this situation."

One student, who asked to remain anonymous, feared she would be ill-prepared for the real world, due to the reduced field work hours.

"I am so disheartened right now," she said. "I moved here because this was promised to be the best paramedic education in the country, because it had the most prac time."

USC Head of School of Health and Sport Sciences John Lowe said staff were aware of the growing shortage of placements with QAS and had spent $200,000 in simulation equipment to make up for the shortfall.

Prof Lowe said more students enrolling in health programs and more universities offering degrees, meant there was a finite number of placements and hours available.

"USC is altering the way we previously have trained and finding we can produce a better health professional," he said.

Prof Lowe said a new simulation building was being built and would be completed by the end of the year.

United Voice Sunshine Coast union spokesman and road paramedic Peter Griffey said properly trained and qualified uni students were needed in Queensland.

"QAS needs to negotiate properly with the universities to ensure that the university students are suitably qualified to complete their programs," he said.

An Emergency Services spokesman said universities decided the way curriculum was structured and changes to courses was up to them.

Topics:  emergency services health paramedics university of the sunshine coast

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