A comparative study of multi-media enhanced distance education and conventional instruction of a core paramedical psychomotor skill.
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Emergency Medical Service (EMS) organizations are turning to distance education as an alternative to the traditional face-to-face classroom setting. EMS employees require a broad range of core competencies to perform their job effectively and the majority of these skill sets fall within the psychomotor domain of learning. Traditionally these psychomotor skill sets have been taught in the classroom with an instructor providing a demonstration followed by coached practice and instructor feedback. The purpose of this study was to compare two types of instruction for a paramedical psychomotor skill: distance instruction versus face-to-face instruction. The application of a pre-hospital fracture management device (Sager Traction Splint) was the psychomotor skill that was assessed. Forty-two recruits entering into the British Columbia Ambulance Service were randomly assigned into control and treatment groups and taught the application of the Sager Traction Splint by either a face-to-face or distance education instructional methodology. Results of student performance show that there was no significant difference in the effectiveness of either instructional method in teaching the psychomotor skill. Beneficial ramifications to EMS organizations as a result of this study could be cost savings accrued from using a distance education delivery model, as opposed to the face-to-face model, and more extensive access to consistent skill based training.