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Accurate field evaluations are critical in determining paramedic students' competency to provide patient care. The [U.S.] National Paramedic Curriculum does not address the skills needed by evaluators, and requirements to be a preceptor/evaluator vary from state to state. Therefore, it is imperative that educational programs develop an evaluation process that reflects valid performance criteria and assure a high degree of rating consistency among the evaluators. This study sought to determine the effects of using a video case based teaching approach in preparing paramedic preceptors for the role of evaluator.
Paramedic preceptors receiving the case-based teaching approach to prepare them for the role of evaluator would demonstrate significantly higher scores on a video posttest than paramedic preceptors who were not prepared for the role of evaluator using the case-based approach.
Thirty-four paramedic preceptors from a Midwestern fire-based Emergency Medical Services system were enrolled in this study. Two scripted video student/patient encounters were used to measure evaluation scores in a pretest-posttest comparison of control versus experimental group. The experimental group was given structured rating guidelines and practice applying those guidelines to a case study. Pretest and posttest scores were weighted and analyzed using Analysis of Variance.
Analysis of the pretest–posttest differences revealed significantly higher scores for the experimental group in the categories containing complex behaviors: communication F(1,16) = 13.21, p <.01, assessment F (1,16) = 8.81, p <.01, and knowledge F (1,16) = 29.64, p <.001. There was no significant difference between groups in the categories containing simple, easily observed behaviors: reliability F (1,16) = .55, p >.05 and cooperativeness F (1,16) = 3.02, p >.05.
Using the case study method and written guidelines that provide concrete examples of complex behaviors appears to increase reliability of evaluations among preceptors.
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