Credit points



PARA118 Foundations of Paramedicine

Unit description and aim

In contemporary society, mental illness accounts for a substantial portion of the burden of all disease. Evidently this group and other vulnerable populations have compelling and distinct primary health and urgent care needs for paramedics to meet. To achieve this, students will explore the biopsychosocial factors of mental health, communication strategies, the key concepts of mental illnesses and paramedic care pathways. Integrating these elements will provide students with a deeper understanding of consumers' experiences, so students can skilfully apply tailored management strategies to an array of challenging settings.   


This unit aims to empower compassionate, proficient, people-centred care for vulnerable populations and people with a mental illness.  

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe the epidemiology, legal frameworks, clinical presentations, principles of care and experiences of people with a mental illness and vulnerable populations. (GA1) 

LO2 - Discuss the biopsychosocial factors and the impact that communication, biases and stigma have on people with a mental illness and vulnerable populations. (GA1, GA2, GA5) 

LO3 - Apply people-centred communication techniques, informed decision-making, assessment principles and appropriate interdisciplinary care pathways for people with a mental illness and vulnerable populations. (GA3, GA5, GA6) 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


The Paramedicine Board of Australia is responsible for assessing, consulting on and setting the standards for paramedics practicing in Australia. These standards and relevant domains are articulated in the Professional Capabilities for a Registered Paramedicdocument. The learning outcomes of this unit are matched to the relevant capabilities, in order to align your development with the requirements of a paramedic. 

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Domain 1: Professional and ethical conduct  

1.1, 1.2, 1.4  

LO1, LO2, LO3  

Domain 2: Professional communication and collaboration  

2.1, 2.2  

LO1, LO2, LO3  

Domain 3: Evidence-based practice and professional learning  

3.1, 3.2, 3.3  

LO1, LO2, LO3  

Domain 4: Safety, risk management and quality assurance  

4.1, 4.2, 4.4, 4.6  

LO1, LO3  

Domain 5: Paramedicine practice  

5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.6  

LO1, LO3  


Topics will include:   

  • Historical perspectives of mental health and illness  
  • Biopsychosocial factors of mental health and illness  
  • Vulnerable populations   
  • Marginalised groups  
  • Australian First People’s Knowings and perspectives  
  • Family and domestic violence  
  • Alcohol, drug use and addiction  
  • Homelessness  
  • Institutionalised and incarcerated groups  
  • Frequently presenting patients  


  • Discrimination, bias, stigma and self-awareness  
  • Therapeutic communication and de-escalation  
  • Paramedic decision-making and assessment of mental health  
  • The legal and ethical framework applicable to people with mental illness  
  • Continuum of care and relevant health care pathways for people with mental illness  
  • Paramedic care principles  
  • Pharmacotherapy and non-pharmacological  
  • Interdisciplinary care pathways  
  • Other contemporary approaches  
  • Common mental disorders   
  • Characteristics and presentations  
  • Pathophysiology  
  • Experiences and challenges  
  • Psychopharmacology  
  • Common medications  
  • Adverse effects and toxicology  
  • Risks and outcomes; 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

 This Unit provides teaching and learning strategies that engage students with materials, concepts and experiences that will support achievement of the aims and objectives of the Unit as well as relevant Graduate Attributes and professional capabilities. PARA225 will develop knowledge of mental health and illness as well as vulnerable populations within the context of paramedicine. Usually situated in the second year, PARA225 continues to build upon students established skills and assists them to become both an independent and social learner. Delivery methods will be multi-modal and comprised of virtual/online environments and face to face workshops.   


Online learning will assist students acquire the fundamental theoretical concepts necessary for paramedicine. The information, delivery and exercises will be constructed in digestible portions which will allow for ease of understanding, flexibility and respect for individual learning styles. As students will begin to apply the concepts in the subsequent workshops, it is expected that they will have completed the online learnings before attending the face-to-face component.   


The workshops will allow students to use the fundamental concepts acquired from online learning, apply pertinent skills, analytical thinking, engage in discussion and group work so they can begin to solve the case-based challenges posed. These challenges are designed with a real-world focus to apply knowledge to relevant clinical contexts.   


Simulations will then provide an authentic and engaging opportunity to apply students developing skills in a dynamic and challenging, but safe environment. Given the uncontrolled and unpredictable nature of paramedicine, this will allow students to focus and consolidate knowledge and be optimally prepared to negotiate the challenges encountered in a career in paramedicine.  


It is expected that students will undertake a total 150 hours of study for this unit. The hours will comprise of the face-to-face methods, online learning and self-directed study in which students will engage with a range of online resources, readings, and prepare for and/or undertake assessments. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment items consistent with University assessment requirements and policy will be used to ensure students achieve the unit learning outcomes, attain the graduate attributes and the meet professional capabilities required in paramedicine. With the ethos that assessments support and guide learning, students will see a direct relationship between each task and development.  


The group task is an effective and powerful way to learn. In addition to the creation of peer-to-peer bonds the skills that are developed are highly relevant to the workplace: organisation, delegation, effective communication, peer-support, developing your unique voice and perspective in relation to peers, co-operation, and leadership. Project management skills such as breaking complex tasks into parts and steps as well as collaboratively managing time and work processes across group members are also developed. These communication and negotiation skills are essential to be able to advocate for people with mental illness and vulnerable populations and all these skills are important in paramedicine.  



The written assessment will build on previous assessment by further assimilating and analysing key concepts pertinent within paramedicine. It’s context will be centred around real-world problems to a deeper understanding of the profession and practice, while developing communication and critical thinking skills. This enables students to create knowledge and solutions that will be directly relatable to paramedicine.  


The viva vice allows students to demonstrate a broad understanding of the knowledge inherent in this unit, required communication skills and apply compassionate care within a professional context, which will direct students future practice as a paramedic. These assessments will build knowledge and skills which, by the conclusion of this programme, will enable students to graduate as a safe and effective practitioner.   

To pass this unit, students are required to submit all assessment tasks and gain an aggregate mark of 50%.  


Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Group Assessment 

Promotes the development of leadership, cooperation and communication skills by identifying challenges and achieving shared goals.  



GA1, GA7, GA9 

Written Assessment 

Provides you with the opportunity to identify real-world problems and articulate solutions while supporting your development of academic communication and critical thinking skills. 



GA1, GA2, GA5 

Viva Voce 

Enables you to demonstrate broad understanding of the principles, management and care required for assisting people with mental illness and vulnerable populations. 



GA3, GA5, GA6 

Representative texts and references

Bryant, B., & Knights, K. (2015). Pharmacology for health professionals (5th ed). Chatswood, NSW: Elsevier Australia.  


Dudgeon, P., Milroy, H., & Walker, R. (Eds.). (2014). Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (2nd ed.). WA: Kulunga Research Network. Available online:   


Hungerford, C., Hodgson, D., Murphy, G., de Jong, G., Ngune, I., Bostwick, R., Clancy, R. (2017) Mental Health Care, (3rd ed.). Australia: Wiley.  


Hercelinskyj, G., Louise, A., (2019) Mental Health Nursing: Applying Theory to Practice. (Publisher Info? Cengage Learning Australia)  

 Koocher, G., & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2016). Ethics in psychology and the mental health professions: Standards and cases (4th ed.). New York, Oxford University Press  


O’Toole, G. (2016). Communication: Core interpersonal skills for health professionals (3rd ed.). Chatswood, NSW: Elsevier. ACU Library: e-book:   


 Sarafino, E., & Smith, T. (2017). Health psychology: Biopsychosocial interactions (9th ed.). New York, Wiley. ACU Library:  


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