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Mark Garratt

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    Personal profile


    I am a qualified and registered paramedic with considerable front-line experience. I was also one of the very first Emergency Care Practitioners in the country and have experience of this role both the pre-hospital and out-of-hours environment. My ambulance career began as an Emergency Control room Assistant with the West Midlands Ambulance Service in 1989. In 1993 I undertook basic training and became an Ambulance Technician, commencing emergency response duties at West Bromwich Ambulance Station. In 1996 I became a qualified Paramedic; becoming registered with the HCPC (then the CPSM) since it was first possible to do so.

    In 2003, I undertook the very first ECP course at Coventry University, and subsequently undertook duties in an emergency response capacity, working at various General Practitioner surgeries, and providing out-of-hours coverage in South Warwickshire. I also assisted with the implementation of the community ECP role in partnership with the North Warwickshire PCT, and the facilitation of paramedic practice within the resuscitation department of a local university hospital.

    After joining the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Coventry University in 2007 (initially as a Clinical Skills Instructor, and then as a Senior Lecturer), I contributed to the theoretical and practical education of paramedic, nursing and midwifery students across the full range of programmes. In accordance with this, I regularly prepared and delivered didactic theoretical sessions and practical clinical skills/scenario-based teaching. This was underpinned by my completion of the PGCE in Higher Education Professional Practice, and the MSc in Digital Education (with Distinction) at the University of Edinburgh - which has proved invaluable for designing and delivering online CPD learning materials.

    In terms of external collaborations, I have experience of fostering links with educational and service providers. Most notably, this includes a close association with senior West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust representatives, and other HEI representatives in the region who provide paramedic education and training. In this context, I am a member of the WMAS HEI Consortium and Quarterly Contract Review panels. I have also been appointed as a HCPC Partner and Panel Member. In this capacity, I work closely with the HCPC in ensuring that registrant Fitness to Practice concerns are dealt with fairly and in accordance with the applicable professional standards.

    In relation to my own education (in addition to being a HCPC registered paramedic), I have completed an honours degree in Autonomous Emergency Practice, and a PGCHE teaching qualification (which enabled me to become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy). In 2012 I was awarded a distinction on completion of the MSc in E-Learning (Digital Education) with The University of Edinburgh and I was fortunate to have my research project published. I have also completed the third year of studying for a professional doctorate at Staffordshire University. Modules completed so far (all with distinction) include; Policy and Professional Practice, Theory in Educational Research, and Designing Educational Research.

    PhD Project

    My proposed study will focus upon an exploration of how notions of professional ‘identity’ are formed and/or negotiated by students studying Paramedic Science within Higher Education. In order to enable students to meet the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration requirements, these courses generally incorporate pre-hospital emergency practice placements with a local ambulance NHS Trust. These placements involve direct workplace exposure and are where students begin to adopt the attitudes, behaviour patterns, values and perspectives which are considered to be synonymous with the development of professional identity. The development and demonstration of these characteristics is suggested to be an essential part of being able to ‘fit in’ and acceptance into the workplace culture; something which is considered important for achieving a ‘sense of belonging’, gaining further experience, and the creation of a supportive and ‘healthy positive workplace’.

    Although based upon research which is acknowledged to be limited, some authors suggest that many newly qualified paramedics are insufficiently prepared and supported for the cultural transition to the workplace, with consequent negative effects on their mental health and productivity. In the case of paramedic science, this transition is potentially confounded further by the ‘emerging’ nature of a profession which is in the process of negotiating its own place alongside more established professions such as medicine and nursing. This negotiation is set against a backdrop of conflict over levels of clinical autonomy and regulation which gives rise to the adoption of informal coping strategies, and the application of unofficial ‘street level’ tacit knowledge (predominantly learned from experienced colleagues). This phenomenon of ‘control and resistance’ has been termed ‘blue-collar professionalism’ and is considered to represent a feature of paramedic professional identity.

    The nebulous, contested, and changing nature of such professional identities requires that universities adjust their curricula in order to appropriately prepare students for the workplace. As a registered paramedic and paramedic educator, I have a professional interest and an academic investment in facilitating the cultural transition of students to an evolving and potentially conflicted workplace environment.  My proposed research is therefore intended to explore the development/negotiation of professional identity from the student perspective, with the intention of making recommendations for the ways in which they are prepared and supported at university. This will hopefully contribute to an area of research which is acknowledged to require much further investigation.

    External positions

    HCPC Paramedic Fitness to Practice Panel Member, Health and Care Professions Council


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