General Care Paramedic (GCP)

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Other Vocational Titles
Extended Care Paramedic, Community Paramedic

Definition
A general care paramedic (GCP) is an advanced clinical practitioner in Paramedicine who specialises in facilitating a comprehensive medical history/assessment, initiation of relevant treatment and appropriate referral for low and medium acuity patients in a variety of community and clinical settings with an emphasis on managing a patient in their own environment/context.

Education
Pre-requisite: Paramedic (with postgraduate experience)

In some paramedical services it is currently a requirement to achieve intensive care paramedic practice as the entry qualification for this level.

Postgraduate study i.e., Masters (GCP) and completion of an internship program.

Currently in Australia and New Zealand GCP’s are usually educated via internal development programs developed and delivered by employing service providers.

Operation
GCPs attend both scheduled and unscheduled lower acuity patients where they undertake a thorough clinical assessment of the patient’s medical history and condition, order any pathology testing as required, interpret the results and, based on a clinical diagnosis, institute a short to medium term care plan with appropriate medical referral as required.  The GCP has a significant understanding of pathophysiology, pharmacology and disease process.

The GCP makes complex and critical clinical judgements in a multidisciplinary, collaborative team environment ensuring involvement of the patients primary treating health care professional, where possible, and without direct supervision.  Individuals are responsible for their own continuing professional development which may be supplemented by employer provided training.

This relatively new professional role has meant that GCPs are mostly engaged by statutory ambulance services however with the future expansion of this role and the associated scope of practice, it is anticipated that these practitioners may be engaged by hospitals (particularly rural and remote), health care clinics, private sector providers or be self employed (as occurs in other countries).  This role currently operates predominantly in the community, residential aged care or supported care facilities or on occasions rural and remote hospitals and clinics.

Typically this professional is currently deployed as single operator in a purpose equipped vehicle without stretcher capacity or as an expert clinical resource in an ambulance communications facility.  It is anticipated that as this role becomes better recognised, these practitioners will also operate from small hospital emergency departments, health care clinics or in the industrial/private sector.

The GCP takes professional responsibility for actively participating in the multidisciplinary health care team providing leadership and support where relevant.  This practitioner also actively participates in the mentoring and support of other paramedic staff.

Scope of Practice

  • Includes Paramedic Scope Of Practice
  • Specialist patient assessment including point of care blood testing, ordering plain film x-rays and various specimen testing
  • Immunisations e.g. tetanus, influenza, hepatitis
  • Specialist management of  wounds (cleaning, closure and dressing), infections (including a broad range of oral and IV antibiotics), dehydration, soft tissue injury, chronic pain and palliative care
  • Reduction of common dislocations e.g. patella, anterior shoulder, finger
  • Urinary catheter (male and female) and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube reinsertion
  • Use of a wide range of generalist and specialist referral pathways: general medical practitioner, district nurses, palliative care services and community social services