Examining the Role of Experience and Affective Personality Traits in Paramedic Students’ Success

Wayne Perry, BS, NRP, NCEE; Kelly Wanzek, AAS, NRP; Michael Hunter, BS, NRP; Ben Hejkal, BA; Ginger Burke, AAS, MICP; Katie Cicolello, BA; Todd Cage, M.Ed, NREMT-P

Introduction
Paramedic programs are evaluated on course completion rates and National Registry of EMT’s pass rates by accrediting bodies and regulatory agencies. Like other health professions, EMS educators are interested in methods that predict student success as entrance exams and background evaluations. The connection between affective personality traits and paramedic success has also been of recent interest to EMS educators. Many paramedic programs require varying levels of EMT experience for admission, because experience is believed to offer enhanced understanding. Although these predictive variables have been discussed, limited research on this subject has been completed.

Methods
Scores on a validated summative exam (PRE) [Table 1] were compared to sub-scores on a validated entrance exam (EE) and self-reported prior EMT experience [Table 2]. The EE consists of four content areas: Math, Reading, Anatomy/Physiology, and EMT Basics; and three noncognitive sections: Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism. Scores for the PRE and the EE were converted from total scores to logit scores, and the data was fit into a series of linear regression models [Table 3].

Table 1: Fisdap Entrance Exam Scores

 MeanSD
Reading79.76.9
Math79.97.9
Anatomy/Physiology77.47.8
EMT Basic73.96.6
Agreeableness74.817.1
Conscientiousness76.117.2
Neuroticism74.319.4

Table 2: Self Reported EMT Experience

Experience LevelCount
Less than 1 year82
2-5 years118
6-10 years63
More than 10 years28

Table 3: Results of Linear Regression

 EstimateStd. Errort Value
Intercept-2.300.49<.001
2-5 years0.130.06.03
6-10 years0.150.08.06
More than 10 years0.070.10.48
EE Reading0.0080.004.08
EE Math0.0060.004.11
EE A.P.0.0170.004<.001
EE EMT0.0110.004.01
EE Agreeableness0.0020.002.31
EE Conscientiousness-0.0060.003.03
EE Neurotic0.0040.002.07

Results

The total number of students who completed both the EE and PRE was 291. The average PRE score was 74% (range 47–89%). The corresponding average logit score was 1.02 (range -0.10–2.09). The coefficients from the model suggest that four variables explain the differences in PRE logit scores with statistical significance. These factors were Experience of 2–5 years, EE Anatomy/Physiology scores, EE EMT Basic scores, and EE Conscientiousness scores.
 
Examinees with 2–5 years of experience score, on average, 0.13 logits higher on the PRE (t=0.03).
 
On average, students with higher scores on the EE Anatomy/ Physiology and EMT Basics subsections obtained higher scores on the PRE. Every 10-scale point increase in Anatomy/ Physiology raises the PRE by 0.17 logits (t<0.001). Likewise, every 10-scale point increase in EE EMT Basics raises the PRE
by score 0.11 logits (t=0.01).
 
Finally, every 10-scale point increase in Conscientiousness scale scores, decreases the PRE by 0.06 logits (t=0.03). Although significant, the result is a statistical artifact due to multicollinearity, and this negative result should be ignored.