As a Paramedic, I am responsible for ensuring I keep myself up to date with all the latests guidelines, practices and to make sure I keep my skills up and prove that I can still do those things that I was taught many moons ago. This is part of my profession and part of being a professional, taking responsibility for ones "upkeep".
However, this is not easy. Yes, you can read journals. Yes, you can keep reflective accounts of jobs you do etc to help learn what you have done and how you could improve it. But, and I don't know if I am alone in this (which is one of the reasons I blog - to see if I am alone or if others are in the same boat and how they deal with it!), I do find that my trust is not hugely supportive of on going training and development. I also feel there are limited courses out there in commercial world specifically designed for the Paramedic market, and many of these courses are not cheap either!
Now, don't get me wrong, but I think trusts (well my trust at least) are trying. Rota's now have (or are getting) training days built into them. There does seem to be more of a push towards yearly reviews for staff and individual training plans. They are trying to get more training staff available more of the time to more staff, which is all good. However, as soon as the pressure levels increase and the trust is over worked *poof* away goes the training. Certainly, in the trust I am in, we seem to be "under pressure" more and more these days, and I guess it is the same for many with the wanting us to do more for less. But is this really an excuse? While I am not going to go into the intubation debate here (I'll save that for another post!) even though it is recognised that Paramedics don't get as much exposure to this skill as is desirable, there is little that trusts seem to be doing to address this. One trust I know of has even stopped training intubation to all it's new Paramedics - so instead of trying to find a solution to the training they have just removed it which, given we are in the 21st century and wanting to move the profession forward (well I know I do and I am sure I am not alone!) this only seems to be a step backwards.
As for external course, yes you have things like PHTLS and ALS but really these are Doctor courses and while they are relevant for Paramedics in the whole, they have not been designed FOR the paramedic. If I am honest, I'd love to see some courses with us in mind being developed between the College of Paramedics and HPC. In my little brain I can see a huge market here - perhaps a course that you could do where you can have simulation manikins and practice intubating (to reduce the aparent skill fade and thus stave off the skill removal), prove compitence in managing cardiac arrests or truama or any number of scenarios, perhaps some theory and even an exam. Perhaps even make this a mandatory course which you need to do every 2 years and produce the certificate when re-registering with the HPC. Some people reading this (assuming anyone does) may think I am crazy, and in part this may be true. But surely, something like this, designed for paramedics, making sure we keep skills up to date, proving that we still know stuff can only help to improve the profession. It would ensure we keep ourselves up to date. It would ensure we do still remember things and are regularly tested on them, not only proving to ourselves that and our peers that we can remember it but proving to the public that paramedics are not just a group who have done training once but are constantly being re-tested to protect them. Yes, I know this in part is what CPD (Continual Professional Development) is about, along with folders, but wouldn't it be good to have specific courses targeted at paramedics with this in mind?
Ah well. Until such time as these sort of courses appear I shall keep doing whatever training I can get out of my trust, probably some additional courses on top (if my bank balance will allow!) and perhaps a conference or two. Will definately keep reading blogs and listening to the Ambulance Matters podcast - http://ambulancematters.com - (strongly recommend this to people!) as this seems to be quite a good way of reflecting...
Oh, and if anyone has any great learning resources, any tips or tricks, or any courses they'd recommend, I'd be really interested to hear. I want to become a good paramedic and I know I am right at the beginning of this journey. Like I have said before, anyone who thinks "I'm now registered. I've got there" is in for a shock as there is always more to learn. And if anyone fancies setting up some Paramedic Training Courses designed by paramedics, for paramedics, let me know!