Accepted paper:

The bargaining of professionalism in emergency care practice: NHS paramedics and higher education


Assaf Givati (University of Portsmouth)

Paper short abstract:

This article explores the impact on professional practice of reforms to the paramedic profession in the UK including the academization of training in order to accommodate for enhancing paramedics' public health roles and ability to utilize technological advancements and medical interventions.

Paper long abstract:

Over the past 2 decades, as part of reforms to the National Health Service and with it organizational changes to ambulance work in the UK, paramedic education has undergone a process of 'academisation' and a shift from in-house, apprenticeship weeks-long occupational training, to university-based undergraduate programs. This change was designed to accommodate for enhancing paramedics' public health roles including the utilization of advanced medical and technological skills. While the professional regulation and standardization of Allied Health Professionals' education in high-income countries has captured scholarly attention, the study of paramedic practice is still in its infancy and there is a need to explore its evolvement in relation to the fluid societal-political circumstances affecting its provision and demand. Based on interviews with front-line paramedics, paramedic educators and paramedic science students in the South of England, this article examines how the reforms to paramedic education have impacted the professionalization of paramedics and their discourse of professionalism. Framed within to the 'new' sociology of professions, the case of British paramedics demonstrates the complex nature of the relationship between the university and professional practice. It appears that universities, the providers of paramedic education, are caught between two opposing discourses of professionalism: on the one hand, that of providing a platform for students' socialization and engagement with professionalism 'from within' practice which is based on students' common goals and mutual experiences, and, on the other hand, serving as a conduit for managerial/organizational strategies of professionalism which appear to undermine the role of university socialization.

panel F02
Health professionals' adaptation to societal and economic uncertainties, intensifying demands and growing challenges to healthcare provision