Thank you to Mark Belchamber, Paramedic, Taranaki District Health Board for providing this blog: 

If there is one word that encapsulates what registration and regulation means, this is it: professionalisation.


If you want a phrase, it’s ‘appropriate and excellent care, backed by a robust governing body and empowering the individual - but also allowing them to take personal responsibility for their continuing professional development’.


We work in a country where pretty much anyone can call themselves a Paramedic, where training standards and expectations are variable and where, if you want to just turn up for work, get paid and go home, then very few people will question that. Ask yourself honestly…is that a profession? Is that good for patients? Yes I know you do your yearly refresher but what else do you do? Think about it.


Becoming a registered professional does many things, but among most important is that it protects the patient and recognizes you as someone who has a set skill level with a specified amount of training and expertise and has a set amount of education. If you want to call yourself a Paramedic, that will actually mean something in terms of who you are and what you can do.


It will benefit patients because it means that you have to stay in touch and relevant – on top of your game. You’ll have a portfolio or file of evidence that will show the courses you’ve done, the formal reflection on calls you’ve undertaken, the extra learning you’ve achieved, maybe even the articles you’ve written for magazines and journals…all this will be because that’s what being in a profession means: taking responsibility for your learning, actively researching that job that you completely blew, or the one you didn’t understand, or the one where the patient presented atypically. It means knowing what the latest thinking is concerning (for example) respiratory medicine and thinking about how that might affect your practice.


To start with you’ll be doing this because (if we’re honest!) your new professional status says that if you don’t your governing body will either reprimand you or take away your registration – which means you won’t get a job as a registered Paramedic again.


But gradually you’ll realise that you’re doing it because the next similar job you would have blown went better than you expected…or you now understand that condition you were confused about and you were able to treat a patient really well – which felt good…or the next atypical patient didn’t catch you out. You’ll realise that the courses you’ve been on have given you added confidence, enthusiasm, knowledge and understanding – and a few useful contacts. And you might even have the confidence to contribute to a journal about a case that other professionals across the country (and even the World) will find useful. You’ll find that, actually, you’re getting much better at your job. So that means the patient is being treated better.


All the time you practice as a professional, your governing body will make sure that no one of a lesser skill level can call themselves registered if they do not have the same skill level as you. No one will be able to do your job without being at least as good as you - and anyone who lets your profession down by mistreating patients or not acting professionally can be struck off.


Registration means you get protection and patients get the best care from the most up to date and well trained, knowledgeable medics. That’s you, that is.



Mark Belchamber


Taranaki Districk Health Board Ambulance Service