Student Paramedic Practice Placement Wellbeing Survey


The crucial issue of mental health and wellbeing of healthcare staff is of national priority (NHS England, 2021), with healthcare workers experiencing mental health issues at a higher rate than the general population. Stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout are all common due to factors like workload, exposure to trauma, and shift work. For ambulance services this has arguably never been more relevant with ambulance clinicians being more likely than other emergency services personnel to experience poor wellbeing and mental health challenges (Mind 2019) and are at an increased risk of death by suicide (AACE 2021). Student paramedic placements are a crucial part of the journey to becoming a qualified paramedic however, they can also be demanding and stressful. Contributing factors include repeated exposure to traumatic and emotionally laborious incidents, shift work and operational pressures (Hong & Pelzer 2017) with pre-registration and newly qualified staff being identified as significant risk groups. Studies have shown that there is a high prevalence of anxiety, depression and PTSD among paramedic students (Fjeldheim, et al., 2014 and McKinnon et al., 2021) and that practice placement is likely to subject students to increased sources of stress (Deasy, et al., 2014).

NHS England (previously Health Education England) commissioned the College of Paramedics to undertake the ‘Future Workforce Mental Health Project’ in response to the ongoing psychological risks to those entering the ambulance profession. Academic leads Emma Geis and Katie Pavoni have been working on multiple interventions as part of this project including new curriculum guidance on personal mental health and wellbeing in pre-registration paramedic training and the development of a wellbeing and recovery support tool. The aim of the project is to ensure that mental health and wellbeing is integrated into the entire student educational journey and to create a network of support throughout the undergraduate period and into the workforce.

As part of the project a literature review was undertaken to determine the kind of information available in publications internationally about the mental health and wellbeing of undergraduate pre-registration paramedic students during practice placements. A scoping review was completed to systematically map the research done around student paramedic practice placement experience and to identify existing gaps in knowledge in this area. 

Results of this scoping review have highlighted several themes in the literature that were relevant to the mental health and wellbeing of undergraduate pre-registration paramedic students during practice placements. The themes identified included the quality of the wellbeing support and preparation for paramedic student ambulance-based practice placement, the culture and environment of the placement provider and work-related stress and its impact on student paramedic mental health and wellbeing.

Following on from the literature review a survey was developed to explore the student experience of clinical placements and to assess the impact placements might have on student health and wellbeing. We would also like to explore current support mechanisms available and whether these are being accessed by students. 

We are asking all undergraduate pre-registration paramedic students, studying in the United Kingdom, to take part in this survey which will discuss their mental health and wellbeing during practice placement and the support mechanisms that are accessible and accessed by students. This survey is open to all paramedic students currently enrolled on an undergraduate programme and students accessing the apprenticeship paramedic student pathway. The survey should be completed by students who are currently on or have recently completed a practice placement.
The information from the scoping review and the student placement survey will further inform the ‘Future Workforce Mental Health Project’ around the specific mental health challenges faced by paramedic students during practice placement and offer further insight into the guidance and support that can be provided both during the course and into the workplace.

If you are a student paramedic who is currently on or recently finished placement, we would love to hear from you. Please follow the link to complete the Student Paramedic Practice Placement Wellbeing Survey.

For further information please follow the link: