Background: The term ‘paramedic’ has traditionally related to a healthcare professional trained to provide pre-hospital emergency care; however, paramedics are increasingly taking on novel additional non-emergency roles. General practice is facing unprecedented demand for its services related to rising expectations, an aging society and increased prevalence of chronic disease. Paramedics may be recruited to work in general practice to meet some of these demands. We undertook a scoping review to map the current literature considering paramedics working in general practice and inform follow-on research.
Methods: We employed the six-stage scoping review framework developed by Arksey and O’Malley. Our research question was ‘to identify the scope of practice, nature of training/qualifications, challenges faced, and impacts of paramedics working in general practice’.
Results: After searching PUBMED (Medline, n = 487), EMBASE (n = 536) and the Cochrane Library (n = 0) in June 2020, we identified eleven full-text articles that met our inclusion criteria. The literature suggests that paramedics have diverse skills that enable roles within general practice, some of which are context specific. Additional training is considered necessary to facilitate the transition from emergency care to general practice. We found no research that quantitatively assessed the impact of paramedics working in general practice on healthcare expenditure or patient health outcomes.
Conclusions: There is a paucity of empiric scientific literature considering paramedic working in general practice. Further research is needed to inform training pathways, the structure of clinical practice and to measure outcomes.