RE: University Education and Research Programs in Paramedicine
To Whom It May Concern:
I am a Clinical Professor within the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of British Columbia. As an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) physician, I have been involved in the operations, education, research and promotion of paramedic practice for the last 20 years. It has been my privilege and honour to have worked and to continue to work with numerous talented, dedicated, and inspiring paramedics. I am an enthusiastic supporter of paramedics and a stalwart advocate for advancing paramedicine as a profession. I strongly assert that the need for university level academic programs specific to paramedicine is vitally important to not only the profession, but to the quality of out-of-hospital medical care.
Paramedicine has evolved relatively quickly as a distinct body of knowledge and skills that continue to play a critical role in health care around the globe. University level degree paramedicine programs have been well established in several other countries including Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Numerous medical schools internationally have recognized EMS as a distinct and major subspecialty of emergency medicine with academic divisions and centres that specialize in out-of-hospital care education and research. Paramedicine is an essential and prominent discipline for virtually all military forces of the world. In this context, the British Columbia Paramedics Association is championing an effort to persuade universities and other organizations to initiate and sustain academic programs specific to paramedicine. We are fortunate to have a critical mass of paramedics who are keenly dedicated and passionate about formalizing paramedicine as an academic discipline. In order to achieve that, university administrations must recognize that our BC paramedics require an organizational vehicle that can establish degree programs, research infrastructure, and an academic milieu that supports excellence in paramedic practice for not only the health care demands of today, but beyond.
We all acknowledge that quality in health care stems from support and achievement in clinical delivery, education, research, innovation and community engagement. We have witnessed paramedic practice in the province move beyond 911 emergency responses and inter-facility patient transfers and into community paramedicine, special operations (including mass gatherings, event medicine and tactical support), disaster management, environmental medicine, HAZMAT management, public health and many other areas of health care. We rely on paramedics to be the front-line providers for mass casualty incidents, pandemics involving substance use and infectious diseases, and time-sensitive life-saving procedures. It is abundantly clear that paramedics are playing a highly prominent and important role in the delivery of health care, but in this province and generally in this country, they are insufficiently supported by our academic institutions.
Paramedics are highly motivated and passionate health care professionals who possess a dedication to life-long learning, inter-disciplinary collaboration, research and clinical excellence. It is long past due for academic institutions and other decision-makers in this province to provide these professionals a formal academic environment to enable them to strengthen and sustain their profession, just like other health professions. Our society takes it for granted that in any person’s moment of medical need, paramedics will be there to use their knowledge and skills to render immediate aid and comfort. I ardently argue that all of us who benefit daily from the security, safety and clinical care that paramedics are always ready to provide us should be doing our best to support paramedicine.
Philip Yoon, MD, MBA, CCFP(EM), FCFP
Clinical Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of British Columbia
Emergency Physician, Royal Columbian & Eagle Ridge Hospitals, Fraser Health
Reserve Medical Officer, 1 Canadian Field Hospital – Ottawa Detachment, Canadian Armed Forces Medical Director, EMS Physician Online Support, British Columbia Emergency Health Services
Vice-Chair, Emergency Medical Assistants Licensing Board, Ministry of Health, Province of British Columbia