Whitiriea strongly believes that paramedics must be recognised as registered health professionals in their own right.
We welcome the announcement by the Government last week to register paramedics under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (2003), alongside other health professionals like nurses and doctors.
Whitireia is one of only two tertiary education providers in New Zealand who offer a Bachelor of Health Science (BHSc) degree in paramedicine.
“Whitireia’s paramedic degree is unique in Australasia as we have a true education-industry partnership with Wellington Free Ambulance,” says Carmel Haggerty, Head of School, Health & Social Services at Whitireia. “The partnership began 17 years ago with just fourteen students and has grown to 250 enrolled this year.”
“We absolutely endorse the move by the Government which acknowledges the significance of the medical work paramedics undertake,” says Carmel.
Sean Thompson, who has been a BHSc Paramedic degree tutor at Whitireia for eight years, and is also an intensive care paramedic with the Wellington Free Ambulance, has been significantly involved in the journey to get paramedics registered through his recent role as chair of Paramedics Australasia (NZ). This is the professional body representing paramedics in New Zealand.
Sean has tirelessly advocated, with others, to various political parties and the New Zealand government to get the profession to this point.
“Paramedics are highly skilled and expertly trained, and to me this win is about protecting the public as well as the profession,” says Sean. “Australian paramedics gained professional registration a year ago, and it is now vital New Zealand paramedics can take this step.”
The new legislative framework will protect the public by ensuring that paramedics provide a reliable standard of care according to what the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (2003) requires.
“The role of paramedics will now become enshrined in law,” explains Sean. “As a result, paramedicine can be more fully integrated into New Zealand’s healthcare network. It also means that there will be more opportunities for paramedics to move into other roles within the health care sector, or practice in other countries.
“Registered paramedics in the future will not just work on ambulances,” says Sean. “They may work in hospitals, emergency departments, A&E clinics, medical centres or in a policy role such as in the Ministry of Health.”
Third year Whitireia paramedic student, Kaden Saywell, is excited to hear news of the regulatory change.
“After three years of hard study and a lot of time in the field, I think it is fair that we get the same protection as other medical professions,” he says. “It is also good to know too that moving forward there will be more options to move into different areas of healthcare.
“I have loved my paramedic degree, it has set me up so well for the career as we have been given amazing opportunities with placements in emergency wards, in ambulances, in birthing centres and the hands on experience with Wellington Free Ambulance is awesome.
“Through this I have learnt so much about the importance of patient contact and putting people at ease knowing they have someone there to help them, dialling 111 is a very stressful thing to do for most.
“At the end of the day, you can study as many books as you like, but having hands on clinical experience both with Whitireia on campus and on placements with Wellington Free Ambulance, is a game changer,” says Kaden.