Professional communication competences of paramedics – practical and educational perspectives

Department of Informatics and Health Statistics, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland; Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology, University of Economics and Innovation, Lublin, Poland
Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Economics and Law, Kielce, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2013;20(2):366–372
[b][/b]Introduction: Dissonance between the high ‘technical’ competences of medical professionals, including paramedics or emergency medical technicians (EMT), and the relatively low level of patient satisfaction with care received, is a phenomenon observed in many countries. Many studies show that it occurs in the case of an inadequate interpersonal communication between medical professionals and patients. The primary goal of the presented research was evaluation of the level (study of the state) of communication competences of paramedics, and determination of the factors on which this level depends. An additional goal was analysis of the needs and educational possibilities within the existing models of education in the area of interpersonal communication provided by higher medical education institutions. Methods: The following three methods were used: 1) documentation analysis (standards, plans and educational programmes); 2) diagnostic survey concerning professional communication competences of paramedics; 3) self-reported communication skills in emergency medical services – adjective check list. The last two instruments were subject to standardization from the aspect of reliability and validity. The study group covered a total of 105 respondents in the following subgroups: 1) professional paramedics who, as a rule, were not trained in interpersonal communication (31 respondents); paramedic students covered by a standard educational programme (54 respondents); 3) paramedic students who, in addition to a standard educational programme, attended extra courses in professional interpersonal communications (20 respondents). Results: The results of studies indicate poor efficacy of shaping communication competences of paramedics based on education in the area of general psychology and general interpersonal communication. Communication competences acquired by paramedics during undergraduate education are subject to regression during occupational activity. Discussion: Methods of evaluating communication competences are useful in constructing group and individual programmes focused on specific communication competences, rather than on general communication skills.