“This is how I'm going to do it, but this is not how you're going to do it”: the expectation gap between student paramedics and mentors in East and Central Scotland

Megan E. Worsfold, Clare Jouanny, Ela Hamer, Stian A. Mohrsen, Patryk Jadzinski, Mick Harper

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Background: The role of paramedics has expanded significantly over the past two decades, requiring advanced skills and education to meet the demands of diverse healthcare settings. In 2021, the academic requirements for paramedics were raised to a bachelor’s degree to align with other registered professions. The limited evidence on effective paramedic practice education necessitates a novel or new examination of unique learning methods, emphasising the need to establish effective learning relationships between mentors and learners to enhance professional respect and support achieving learning outcomes. This study aimed to investigate expectations between student paramedics and their mentors, focusing on the learning dynamics within paramedic education.

Methods: This qualitative study used purposive sampling to recruit participants from two distinct cohorts: student paramedics from the University of Stirling and Practice Educator Mentors from the Scottish Ambulance Service. Focus groups were conducted to illuminate comprehensive insights into participants' expectations regarding practice education and their respective roles in the learning process. Codebook thematic analysis was used to assess the alignment of these expectations.

Results: Findings illustrate important challenges within practice placement across learning paradigms and highlight the attitudes surrounding the integration of higher education and expectations of practice placements. These challenges encompass systemic barriers, including the support provided to mentors as they assume increased responsibilities and barriers that deter qualified staff from initially undertaking this role.

Conclusion: The study aimed to assess expectations between practice educators and students within the paramedic profession in Scotland. The methodology effectively identified key themes from comprehensive data, marking the first primary research in this field. There are disparities in learning styles, expectation measurement, and attitudes toward higher education during practice placements, which could significantly impact the teaching and assessment processes. The findings suggest increased support for practice educators, educational programs addressing challenges of mentorship, and stronger links between higher education institutes and the Scottish Ambulance Service. Further research is needed to understand the extent of the expectation gap, how expectations evolve, and to develop strategies to address disparities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number368
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2024


  • educator
  • mentoring
  • paramedic
  • placement
  • student
  • expectations

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