I was recently asked by a colleague to outline the benefits of self-regulation for Paramedics in Manitoba. Feeling confident that I could respond in an eloquent fashion, I launched into my sermon. When I was finished, he said I had provided him with some interesting points to ponder, and we went our separate ways. However, on my drive home, I reflected back on what I had said, and realized that his question was not answered properly.
So now I would like to try again to provide those same arguments for Paramedic self-regulation in Manitoba. However, rather than question how it will benefit the paramedic, we must rather ask how it will affect both the individual paramedic and the profession as a whole.
The first step must be to establish a definition of professional. It is said that paramedics are professional, or at least we can act and look professional, but are we really? What defines a professional? We could use the term as it applies to sports, where a professional athlete is one who is paid to compete in his or her sport; or perhaps applying the term to anyone who does a specific task or trade as a main source of monetary income. But that would then imply that the person who bags your groceries in the store is a professional (this is an example only, and is meant in no way to demean or belittle people who do this job).
My reference to paramedics being professionals uses that word as an adjective, meant as a descriptive, rather than a noun. So let us look at the definition from a recognized source, such as the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The word “Professional” is defined there in this way:
b : engaged in one of the learned professions (one of the three professions, theology, law, and medicine, traditionally associated with extensive learning or erudition)
In the past, people who were considered professionals were those who were Physicians, Architects, Engineers and Lawyers. These were people who held their title upon recognition by a governing body, independent of any level of government. These associations or colleges set the standards by which their members were educated; how they comported themselves through rules of ethics, and also meted out disciplinary action as required. Without that recognition, one could not lay claim to any of those titles. An excellent article by J. Stephan Edwards PH.D. on the misuse of the term “Professional” can be found here.
Just saying that we are professionals does not make us so. We have to adhere to a strict set of educational, ethical, and practice standards as set out by a college or association, which is funded and governed by its members. And the title of “Paramedic” would only be given to members who have been recognized and certified by that organization.
In my next post, we will discuss how individual paramedics will be affected by the educational, ethical and disciplinary functions of paramedic self-regulation, both monetarily and in our everyday practice; and what this means to the profession as a whole.
Please feel free to leave comments. As always, these posts are meant to promote discussion and inspire further reflection and research.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary on-line; https://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/professional
- Stephan Edwards PH.d. August 19, 2012, On the use, misuse, and abuse of the words ‘Profession’ and ‘Professional’; available at http://somegreymatter.com/professional.htm