By: Becky Donelon, Jenny Van Nistelrooy, Cheryl Cameron, Angeline Abela, Kathy Reid-Soucy, Bre Hutchinson
Welcome, we are pleased to once again bring forward articles and discussion, the voices of change, to the profession’s understanding and commitment to praxis of diversity and inclusion in paramedicine practice and leadership. Paramedics have become much more active in advancing the notion that inclusivity and diversity are important and possible only with intentional and sometimes courageous or contentious acts. Higher expectations for opportunity, equity and equality, and representation are becoming the norm. Many paramedics are exploring the access and sharing their experience of achieving leadership, informal or formal, in relation to their sex, gender or intersectionality. There is an evolving body of knowledge that gender and sex are often incorrectly interchanged, that the differences associated to gender constructs are mythical, and that diversity in health planning is a best practice.
Understanding how sex, gender and intersectionality is experienced by paramedics and those that we provide care for, helps us to measure how we are caring for and managing the populations we serve. It is becoming less acceptable for paramedics providing care and for accountable decision-makers to ignore the complexities of inclusion and diversity in health care and how this matters to both the bottom line and level of care.
A simple but notable expression of the lack of gender diversity in current state of the profession of paramedicine can be seen at the national level. The Paramedic Association of Canada and Paramedic Chiefs of Canada boards and executive are unable to demonstrate diversity while up to 48% of the workforce, and many paramedics already in leadership and management roles are made up of those identifying as female. Inclusion and diversity at the decision making level ensures different thinking and enables better outcomes that are more reflective of the population or issue being considered.
Evidence is growing that demonstrates better understanding of differences of sex, and gender provides faster, relevant care. Such as in the presentation of a male or female experiencing cardiac chest pain, where much of paramedic teaching or treatment guidelines ignores the difference between the biologic differences and assumes males, females and non-binary patient present similarly, requiring the same treatment. When we commit to best practice it is intended for us to be accountable for the entire community we are and that we serve.
This edition of the CP is intended for all paramedics in the profession, from the front line to senior leadership to aspiring students. All of us have a role to play in ensuring better care and educational supports for our own professional development, for improved and relevant care for all of the patients we serve, not just those who look like us. We can be more comfortable with being uncomfortable, with acknowledging the others who are different, with the knowing that we are all accountable for the change needed. We can all commit to 2020 being the year where each of us add our voice to change.
The views and opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any employer or organization.