With a pulse on the profession globally, where do you see the profession in 5 and 10 years, specifically in terms of technology, interdisciplinary team integration, research and practice?

The question above was asked of the panel (College President, CEO and Registrar) during the 2021 Annual Members’ Meeting. As President, I couldn’t help but be somewhat excited by the question. So much of our lives lately has been dictated by day-to-day changes where you often find yourself taking two steps forward and at least one, if not more, steps back. I don’t know who asked this question, but if you’re reading this (and I hope you are), I want to personally thank you. Yours is a question of hope that we still have a future to look forward to and it is one that we can still build.

From our profession’s early beginnings that saw the need of medics on battlefields to the first implementation of ambulances, to setting standards of care and education to being proclaimed as a self-regulating profession under the Health Professions Act (HPA) with all of our coworkers in healthcare… All of these advancements have brought us to where we are today.

There is significant work underway now to see education enhancements for PCPs so that in the next five years, PCPs will no longer have as many restrictive conditions on their practice. As we work to ensure practitioners are educated to their full scope, this will create more opportunities for our profession to integrate even further into additional healthcare teams and settings. Along with PCP education enhancements, the College is working on approving additional training that will enable the application of more endorsements on practice permits, such as the recent dispensing for bridging medication endorsement. I know the College is also working on approving training that will see certain specialties recognized among our profession in the next five years. I am optimistic that our profession will only see more acceptance and awareness through these scope fulfillment activities.

Work is also being done between the College, AHS EMS and Alberta Health to revise the exemptions to the Canada Drug Act that will see additional medications permitted for practitioners to administer. This is yet another step in the advancement of our profession and the services we can provide to ensure excellent patient care.

Along the lines of changes to legislation, you’ve read lately that the College, along with all regulatory healthcare colleges in Alberta, is responding to the most significant set of proposed changes to the Health Professions Act since its creation 20 years ago. In five years, this means all our regulation will be more streamlined and key elements of our governance will be more flexible as a result. We’ll be able to make changes to documents like Standards of Practice in a more responsive and adaptive manner. For those of you wondering about our fourth designation – Critical Care Paramedic – this means we could implement it without having to go through the Lieutenant Governor General to enact its use. Legislation changes may seem like a lot of administrative talk, but it really is where change needs to happen first, before we can truly implement new processes and practice elements.

When it comes to research, I am so proud of those of our profession who continue to be involved in this critical area. If you were able to participate in the Research Day on May 27, you’ll have seen first hand the strides being taken and the advancements being made. Paramedic research has been challenging to conduct; however, our colleagues are diligently working to overcome these challenges and advance our findings. With more awareness – through events like the Research Days – I can only expect that in five and 10 years, we will have more researchers and more research data.

While I’d love to be able to consult a crystal ball and predict the newest technology, I’m afraid this is an area we will have to wait and see. I do know that some organizations have been discussing the possibility of using virtual reality assessment tools for competence assessment. I am also encouraged by our researchers, and fully expect that as they work to better understand needs and trends, we’ll see new technology as a result that will lead to better treatment methods and better patient outcomes.

On behalf of Council and the College, I want to say thank you again to everyone who continues to join us for the Annual Members’ Meetings. The updates we provide are meant to create awareness and provide transparency about the actions and results of the work being done by our regulatory body. The opportunity for everyone to ask questions is our commitment to addressing topics that are important to us all. Of course, you never need to wait for event to talk with us; and I encourage you all to send any questions to President-Council@ABparamedics.com.

Stay hopeful out there. We’re creating our future with every passing day…

Melissa Manion