AHP Practice Education- a reflective account. Growing Capacity and Diversity for Paramedic Placements by Dalhia Campbell @DalhiaRD


I am Dalhia Campbell, I started a 6 month secondment as AHP Practice Education Lead at the start of November, and my remit is to facilitate and enhance diversity and capacity for practice based learning for paramedical science students.

My background is in nutrition and dietetics.  I qualified as a dietitian from Queen Margaret way back in 1994 and worked have worked as a dietitian in both community and acute areas as well some years in industry.  I joined NHS Tayside in 2005, as a specialist dietitian with the learning disability.  I have always had an interest in facilitating learning and development and so was really delighted to have this exciting secondment opportunity within the AHP directorate.

I have to say that I did not know too much about paramedics (other than watching TV dramas and documentaries, and one interaction as a parent).   Paramedics are within our family of allied health care professionals, regulated by the HCPC and hence the reason for the practice education lead being an AHP.  Like all AHPs, the paramedics are required to undertake practice based learning. For paramedics, 50% of their course is practice based learning. This is of course a major challenge, especially when you add in the impact of Covid.  Whilst part of their clinical placement is within the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), there is also a need to provide a significant number of weeks as a non- ambulance based placement across the health board.

For Tayside, we take the paramedic students from the University of Stirling (students from Stirling also go to NHS Forth Valley and NHS Fife).  I link closely with Stirling University and within the health and social care partnerships, seek to identify suitable settings, and practice educators to ensure that suitable non-ambulance placements can be secured and are of the quality and quantity needed.

Paramedics will find themselves in a variety of contexts and having the opportunity to work in different areas; therefore  an understand of the differing AHP roles and teams within the Heath and Social Care Partnership is key to support deeper learning, understanding and empathy.

Over the past 4 months, I have been busy learning lots about the course and placement requirements and meeting with many different AHPs as well as nurses and doctors within the health board to secure placement opportunities.  I have been liaising closely with the nursing practice education facilitators (PEFs), who have been amazing at pulling together acute placements for the students who are out just now. 

I have been having lots of positive discussions with AHP Practice educators to seek out opportunities to support practice based learning within a whole range learning opportunities. It has been fascinating learning about the diversity of all our AHP professions across the acute and community areas and I have had some really positive discussions which I am so grateful for. Linking in with my PEL colleagues in Fife and Forth Valley has been a great help and we have supported each other really well as we navigate through the challenges and work closely with the University.  We have also worked collaboratively to develop support materials for practice educators and the students as they embark on practice based learning.

Skills around professionalism, communication, confidentiality for example are all important aspects of placement and can be offered by any AHP team.  AHPs can provide a rich learning experience within various settings and this can include acute areas, community, rehab, paediatrics, mental health, learning disability and even those working in the third sector. The benefits to the student are very clear.  I also see this as an opportunity to promote our many AHP roles and enable others to understand how the various professions fits into the team and patient journey. It has the benefit of enhancing patient centred care; as paramedics who understand different roles and challenges of different patient groups, and those who support them, will be able to offer excellence in person-centred care.  

It is hard to believe that I am coming to the end of my time.  I have learnt so much in my short time and wish the paramedic students all the very best and enjoy your placements. I would love to hear how you get on.

 Dalhia Campbell

AHP Practice Education Lead



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