Monday, May 23, 2016

Community Paramedicine

After some thought and a bit of encouragement from some folks, I decided that I would try and document some of the things I have experienced and learned since becoming a part of a Community Paramedicine Program and whatever the future holds. I am by no means a master on this subject, I am still learning new things everyday as I explore this new side of EMS and all the things that come with it.

I thought I should give a little bit of my background. My adventures as an EMS provider started in 2003 as a First Responder. I have since worked my way through EMT-Basic in 2005 to an EMT-Paramedic in 2007 and most recently earned my certification as a Community Paramedic in 2015. I began working for the System I am in now in 2008 as a field provider and in June of 2015, I began this new adventure of Community Paramedic.

The two questions I am asked most often in this position are: 1) What is Community Paramedicine and 2) How is it different from a regular Paramedic? So for my inaugural post on this subject I thought I'd start with trying to answer those questions.

What is Community Paramedicine?

The best answer I have found for this comes from The North Central EMS Institute's Community Paramedic website:
"The Community Paramedic Program closes the gap by expanding the role of EMS personnel . Through a standardized curriculum, accredited colleges and universities will train first responders at the appropriate level to serve communities more broadly in the areas of: Primary care, Public health, Disease management, Prevention and wellness, Mental health, and Oral health. The Community Paramedic Program adapts to the specific needs and resources of each community. It will succeed through the combined efforts of those that have a stake in maintaining the health and well-being of its residents."

I recommend checking out the website above for those who are interested in learning a little bit about Community Paramedics.  There is access to FAQs, a Program Handbook, and talks about the standardized curriculum that has been developed for Community Paramedicine programs. It is a great starting point for information.

How is a Community Paramedic different from a regular Paramedic?

The term "Community Paramedic" has been used broadly to define EMS providers that have been trained to an expanded role (not necessarily an expanded scope of practice) to act outside of the traditional roles of emergency care and transport and include ways to promote a better use of emergency care resources and to further improve the quality of access to primary care.

No two Community Paramedicine Programs are going to be alike. These programs are designed to fit the community in which they are serving. Some may focus on specific disease processes (like CHF or asthma) while others may be focused on specific age groups (newborns or the elderly). Part of designing a Community Paramedicine Program is finding the gaps in the current systems and helping to fill those gaps.