Self-funded PhD opportunities

The bargaining of professionalism in Emergency Care Practice: the ‘academic shift’ of NHS Paramedics

  • Application end date: Applications accepted all year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: School of Health Sciences and Social Work
  • PhD Supervisor: Assaf Givati and Chris Markham

This research study explores the transition of NHS ambulance paramedics’ education from in-house ‘occupational training’, to university situated academic programmes, as part of reforms to paramedic practice and the enhancement of the paramedic professional role. The aim of this project is to investigate the impact of these reforms on the paramedic workforce, including the paramedic professional organisation, identity and practice. It aims to inform those commissioning and providing ambulance services, as well as educators and front-line paramedics and provide an evaluation of key challenges, which are grounded in education and practice.

For many years, the UK ambulance service was restricted to the transportation of patients and was regarded as a low-paid, low-status, manual form of labour. Since 1998, major reforms to the NHS were introduced, including changes to ambulance service delivery and with it to paramedic education and training. Central to these ‘modernisation reforms’ was the regulation of medical para-professionals, including paramedics. As part of this process paramedics’ professional knowledge and responsibilities were extended to enable them to now treat and manage those patients with less serious conditions, in addition to patient transport. Such changes to the professional remit of paramedic practice required matching reforms of their training programmes. If, previously, NHS paramedics were trained during short term, in-house programmes, today the only pathway to the paramedic role is by attending university programmes.

This PhD project will be based in the School of Health Sciences & Social Work, at the University of Portsmouth. The student will be responsible for conducting a research project that builds on a current pilot study, designed to examine the impact of the regulation and formalisation of paramedic practice and education on paramedics’ professional identity and practice.

This qualitative, multidisciplinary project is nested in the academic subject-areas of health sciences, allied health, social care education and practice, and the sociology of health. The student will be required to conduct in-depth interviews, focus groups and participant observation of paramedic education and training. The successful candidate will have background in health sciences, paramedic science or sociology of health and illness with an orientation for qualitative research. The student will have access to a vast array of training resources available through the Graduate School at the University of Portsmouth including: improving presentation skills, project organisation skills, reviewing literature, data collection and interviewing, thesis writing, and other various related training modules.

Funding notes:

This PhD opportunity is available to self-funded students. Bench fees may apply. For more information please contact the project supervisor.

How to apply:

To apply or make an enquiry, please visit postgraduate research: Health Sciences and Social Work

Applications should use our standard application forms and follow the instructions given under the ‘Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpage:

When applying please note the project code - HSSW3240217