The genesis of the Australasian College of Paramedic Practitioners (ACPP) began with four Critical Care Paramedics who had all recently graduated as Physician Assistants (PA). During (PA) clinical placement they all shared an immersive and diverse clinical experience and realised that paramedics, with additional primary care skills, can be a versatile and valuable addition to the wider healthcare system. Frustrated by the lack of opportunities for paramedics to expand their primary care skills within and outside of ambulance services they formed ACPP.
The first steering committee meeting to form ACPP was held on the 4th of November 2019. The College constitution was developed and the ACPP became a not-for profit registered company by limited guarantee on the 15th of December 2019. A Board was created, and two independent Board members were invited to join the College. Bob Aley and Nick Koerbin continue to provide invaluable experience and strategic wisdom to ACPP.
ACPP began to communicate the concept of paramedics, with additional primary care skills, working more broadly within the healthcare system. We were continually referred to ambulance services. It seemed the paramedic profession was perceptually stuck … “rushing people to hospital with lights and sirens”. It is important to note that these fundamental beliefs were widespread through the entire healthcare systems, including and ambulance services and paramedicine.
Paramedics encounter the entire spectrum of patient presentations. They are trained to assess, make decisions, and commence treatment. They do this with a high degree of autonomy. ACPP finds it preposterous that paramedics are restricted in their practice.
- A dual qualified nurse/paramedic cannot autonomously practice their paramedic skills whilst working as a nurse in a hospital.
- Paramedics cannot use medication they are trained, experienced, and authorised to use, unless working for an ambulance service or for an "authorised" employer.
- Paramedics have no access to funding that other health professionals take for granted. This applies not only to the direct provision of services (e.g. Medicare item) but also scholarships, study costs, grants etc.
- Paramedics are largely ignored by workforce planners, policy makers, governments, and regulatory authorities. Paramedics are not seen as a potential member, or leaders of a multidisciplinary team.
The evolution of paramedics into the broader health care system is highly complex and will take time and patience, but it is inevitable. Besides creating pathways to employment ACPP also aims to set standards for education and professional practice. For the sake of the evolving profession ACPP encourages individuals, agencies, paramedics, health professionals, employers, educators, government, policy makers, workforce planners, regulatory authorities, and the community, to review these standards.
Paramedicine is the forgotten health profession. It is mostly siloed into ambulance services and the remote oil and gas industry. ACPP is the specialist College founded to introduce Australasian paramedics, with additional primary care skills, into the broader healthcare system. Just as Medicine and Nursing have specialist Colleges that represent their specialist clinicians, ACPP represents Paramedics with additional primary care skills.