Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Paramedics operate in a rapidly changing health care and social context. A significant part of this change results from integration of new pharmacological interventions into paramedic practice. In order to continue to stay abreast of change, paramedics require knowledge of pharmacological principles. By exploring drugs commonly used within the health care context, students will gain an in-depth understanding of pharmacology, including pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. This unit will allow students to demonstrate broad theoretical and technical knowledge of pre-hospital pharmacology. As such, it enables students to enhance their practice as safe and ethical paramedics.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

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

LO1 - Explain the actions of specific pharmacological agents, including specific illicit drugs, in the pre-hospital setting; (GA5)

LO2 - Analyse current pre-hospital pharmacology use and areas for improvement; (GA4, 5, 6, 9, 10)

LO3 - Reflect on the roles and responsibilities of the paramedic in relation application of knowledge of advanced pharmacology in the pre-hospital environment; (GA4)

LO4 - Contrast pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics for treatment of the elderly, adults and paediatric patients in the pre-hospital environment; (GA4, 5)

LO5 - Evaluate the use of pharmacological agents in the management of specific pre-hospital emergencies.

Graduate attributes

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

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

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.

The Council of Ambulance Authorities Paramedic Professional Competency Standards developed in this unit are: 

CAA Competency Standards:

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

 2.b.1 Use knowledge, reasoning and problem-solving skills to determine appropriate judgements and actions

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 

 2.b.4 Provide safe, effective and appropriate care

3, 4, 5 

 2.c.2 Audit, reflect on and review practice

3, 4, 5 

 3.a.1 Understand and apply key concepts and knowledge underpinning paramedic practice

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 


Topics will include:

Paramedic practice

  • Roles and responsibilities of the paramedic 
  • Legal responsibilities re pharmacological agents

Review of relevant anatomy and physiology, and pathophysiology

Pharmacology review

  • Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics
  • Effects of pharmacological agents on body systems
  • Routes of administration and efficacy
  • Safe use

Elderly, adult and paediatric pharmacological management

Pharmacological theory and management of specific emergencies

  • Respiratory
  • Cardiac
  • Endocrine
  • Nervous system
  • Renal 
  • Pain
  • Polypharmacy 
  • Illicit drug use
  • Toxicology – poisoning / envenoming

Drug actions and interactions

  • Pharmacokinetics / pharmacodynamics
  • Efficacy / quality of use
  • Polypharmacy 

Body system emergencies

  • Choosing pharmacological agents
  • Consideration of past history and current medication regime

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is delivered to practising paramedics who generally work rotating shifts. As such the unit is delivered fully online to allow the flexibility required by students who may not be able to attend on campus or in synchronous mode. As students are currently paramedic practitioners, a teaching and learning strategy which places them at the centre by drawing upon their own experiences best reflects the needs of this cohort. This unit requires students to undertake 150 hours of focused learning to achieve the unit learning outcomes.

Flexible asynchronous online learner-centred lessons are used to support student learning. Students are able to co-construct knowledge using online discussions. Case study methodology is utilized within this unit to further draw upon student experience and to apply knowledge in context. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy adopted in this unit progressively builds the depth of student learning by taking a progressive approach measurement of learning outcomes and graduate attributes. Assessment tasks are sequenced so that students can demonstrate knowledge through a series of quizzes, assimilate this knowledge by integrating it into a case study and apply this learning within a major project. Weighting and sequencing of assessments reflects this progression.

The quizzes assess the students’ knowledge of the application of advanced pharmacology, including pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. The case study enables students to apply values, knowledge, skills and attitudes to a pre-hospital scenario. The major project permits students to consolidate knowledge developed throughout the unit and to think critically and reflectively. These assessments are required to engage students with content that will build knowledge which, by the conclusion of this programme, will allow the student to graduate as a health care professional who can locate and critically appraise discipline specific literature. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

MCQ Quiz (x 5)


LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA5, GA10

Case Study (1000 words)


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA9, 

Major Project (2000 words)


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA9

Representative texts and references

Bryant, B., & Knights, K. (2015). Pharmacology for Health Professionals (4th ed). Chatswood, NSW: Elsevier.

Bullock, S., & Hales, M. (2012). Principles of pathophysiology. Frenchs Forest. NSW: Pearson Australia.

Martini, F., & Nath, J., & Bartholomew, E,. (2012). Fundamentals of Anatomy & Physiology (9th ed), San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education Inc. 

Tortora, G.T., Derrickson, B.H., Burkett, B., Dye, D. Cooke, J., Diversi, T., …Peoples, G. (2016). Principles of anatomy and physiology (1st Asia- Pacific ed.). Milton, Qld: John Wiley & Sons.

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