Original Research

Doctors’, nurses’ and clinical associates’ understanding of emergency care practitioners

Craig Vincent-Lambert, Dirk Kotzé
Health SA Gesondheid | Vol 26 | a1523 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v26i0.1523 | © 2021 Craig Vincent-Lambert, Dirk Kotzé | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 July 2020 | Published: 11 March 2021

About the author(s)

Craig Vincent-Lambert, Department of Emergency Medical Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Dirk Kotzé, Department of Emergency Medical Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Healthcare professionals’ understanding of the knowledge, skills and training of their counterparts from other disciplines cultivates appreciation and respect within the workplace. This, in turn, results in better teamwork and improved patient care. Emergency departments are places where emergency care practitioners (ECPs) engage with doctors, nurses and clinical associates. Whilst the importance of inter-professional communication and teamwork between in-hospital professionals and pre-hospital emergency care providers is acknowledged, no literature could be found describing exactly how much these in-hospital professionals understand about the training and capabilities of their ECP colleagues.

Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the level of understanding that prospective doctors, nurses and clinical associates have regarding the training and capabilities of ECPs.

Setting: The research was conducted in Johannesburg, South Africa, at two universities.

Methods: Seventy-seven participants completed a purpose-designed questionnaire assessing their understanding regarding the education and clinical capabilities of ECPs.

Results: In total, 64% of participants demonstrated a poor understanding of the level of education and clinical capabilities of ECPs. The remaining 36% showed only moderate levels of understanding.

Conclusion: Medical, nursing and clinical associate graduates have a generally poor understanding of the education and clinical capabilities of their ECP colleagues who practise predominantly in the pre-hospital environment. This lack of understanding can become a barrier to effective communication between ECPs and in-hospital staff during patient handover in emergency departments.

Contribution: This research highlights a lack of understanding about the role and function of South African ECPs as pre-hospital emergency care providers and the need for more effective inter-professional education.


Keywords

emergency department; inter-professional education; inter-professional collaboration; patient handover; teamwork

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