The following abstract was developed during the 2010 Research Summit and presented at the 2010 NAEMSE Symposium in Chicago.

Does Higher Critical-Thinking Ability Lead to More Team Leadership During Initial Field Contacts?

David Page, MS, NREMT-P; Timothy Howey, BA, NREMT-P; Louise Briguglio, BA; Samuel Tape, BA

Introduction: Previous research shows that paramedic students with more ambulance field contacts and more successful team leads have improved critical-thinking abilities on a summative written examination (Briguglio et al. 2009). Although a relationship between field contacts and critical-thinking abilities appears to exist, it is not known whether field contact is the cause of improved critical thinking or whether paramedic students with good critical thinking initially lead more field contacts.

Hypothesis: Paramedic students who have better critical-thinking ability will lead a greater number of field patient encounters during their initial ambulance clinical experience.

Methods: Paramedic students entering the 2009 and 2010 paramedic program at two community colleges were given the FISDAP emergency medical technician–basic (EMT-B) comprehensive cognitive examination. This examination reports scores for knowledge, application, and problem-solving ability. For this study, application and problem-solving scores were combined into one critical thinking score. Students were then required to track field clinical encounters by entering them into FISDAP, a national, online emergency medical services (EMS) student tracking system. Paramedic student internship experience data from 2009 and 2010 were retrospectively reviewed from FISDAP. Student records that met the following inclusion criteria were analyzed: consent for research; completed the FISDAP EMT-B cognitive examination before beginning clinicals; completed a minimum of 120 field hours; and data were verified by a preceptor.

Results: In all, 70 students met the inclusion criteria. The number of initial field hours completed ranged from 120 to 166. The average examination score was 72% (range 57%–85%). The average criticalthinking score was 71% (range 53%–83%). Students led an average of 36% of field contacts (range 0%–89%). The correlation coefficient between the written examination score and the percentage of field calls led was –0.040. The correlation coefficient between critical thinking and the percentage of field calls led was –0.036.