Advice for a paramedic looking to make the switch


To keep it short,

I’m physically and mentally ill from working 48 and 72 hour shifts with no sleep. I’m done being dispatched to calls where firearms are pulled on me, and having to physically take away weapons from patients with no police backup. I’m sick of having broken equipment to work on dying and dead kids, and having to wonder why the hell nobody cares that we are failing them. I’m also pretty god damn sick of being backstabbed and cheated out of my paid vacation days when I try to give adequate notice because I’m mentally not okay.

I digress and apologize for the rant, but I’m done being a paramedic. I just got a job in a busy metro ER as a medic, and I’m looking at going to Herzing because they have a nearly all online program that is supposedly rotating schedule flexible. Anyone have experience with this?

I have always had a massive respect for trauma ICU nurses. It is the only part of nursing that makes me go “wow, that’s damn impressive.” It’s no wonder why ICU experience is required for flight/prehospital and CRNA’s. They are SOLID critical thinkers with a strong level of autonomy.

I am used to being the sole ALS provider on scenes with a 30-60 minute transport time, and I’m also a massive black cloud; so I’m not afraid of handling dying/critical patients completely on my own. A week ago I had to figure out how to get an unresponsive level one head trauma patient with a blood-saturated (not patent and actively choking) airway to a level one trauma center an hour away with a clamped jaw, no paralytics, and an unpalpable blood pressure. Kill the pressure even further with versed, or aspirate and go into cardiac arrest as a result of respiratory arrest? I’m by no means an “amazing medic,” like some of those flight medics and paragods out there, but I’ve been forced to adapt and work under constant pressure like the scenario above. I think this makes me a good fit. I haven’t been at my emotionally best lately, but I’m a strong guy and I don’t break under the pressure.

Any recommendations on making the switch? Also, what is the current realistic starting salary for a critical care RN? I read online that $28 an hour is typical for central Florida, but I have no idea if that’s true.

Specializes in EMT since 92, Paramedic since 97, RN and PHRN 2021. Has 2 years experience.

Well hello there BurnOutMedic......

  My name is Bill and ill be your guide on this leg of your adventure!!!


  Also joking aside I was you about 6 years ago.  I was making $24.00/hr (Pennsylvania) and was just sick and tired of the 99% boredom with the 1% excitement/fear.

   So in my best "Fresh Prince of Belair" storytelling...............

  The year was 1992 , I had just become an EMT. Worked doing private for a few years until 1997 when I graduated Medic school.  From 1997 until 2006 I worked at a moderately busy 911 service. December 2nd 2006 I went to take the one man stretcher out of the truck with a 90 lbs soak and wet little elderly lady and just as the stretcher had hit the lock to avoid accidental droppings I felt and heard a "Pop" sound and feeling in my lower back.  Well ,needless to say, I was out of service.   Many X-rays and MRI's later I had to have an ALIF done on my lower spine.  Major, Major surgery where they went through my abdomen, pushed things aside and had a fusion done on L6-S1.  I was out of work until 01/01/2010 when I could finally get the doctors to clear me to go back to work.  I went back to private as I thought it would have been easier on my back, definitely the wrong assumption.  So I muddled along until I made the choice of trying to get my RN license.   In 2016 I enrolled in Excelsior college (now Excelsior university) and started to chip away at the required courses online.   Between taking online classes for my Gen. ED portion of the program and being able to "test out" of other classes I though this was my golden ticket.  Anyways, I finished Pre-reqs, took the nursing classes as just challenging the tests at Pearson Due testing centers, completed anything else required for me to complete the to graduate and thought I was on my way to becoming an RN.   In 2017 I enrolled to take the CPNE, which isn't cheap to begin with, and do my in person testing at a participating hospital. My first attempt I failed because on my MAR they had Coumadin listed twice. I tried to ask the proctor about it and she just smiled and said she couldn't get involved. So I ended up failing.  I submitted an appeal and was luckily granted one, solely based on that MAR.  This test was in Madison Wisconsin ( I live in Philadelphia) so you can surmise the cost of the CPNE wasn't the only fee or cost (airfare, hotel, food etc.)

    After winning my appeal I waited two months to get a test date again for the CPNE.  Failed the next on because when I listened to the pt lungs I did not lift their shirt up.  Go home dejected.  Was so stressed out the week before a test that I thought I was gonna have a breakdown.  My wife supported my decision to step away from the program as she didn't want to see me in such a stressed worry.

   So, March of 2021 I was on my laptop and gotten an email that was in my junk email folder.  I usually never bother to go through it I usually just do a mass delete but something inside me told me just go through the junk emails. And that's where I had seen an Email from excelsior telling me that time is running out to do a CPNE exam online due to Covid. So again the wife supported my decision to try the CPNE one last time. Fire off another $2,495 check and got registered.  The online portion of the test consisted of 5 patients, all virtual, but would fail if I messed up on. scenarios 2 times.  So, after one of the most stressful periods of my life I heard the sweetest sound I have ever heard "You Passed".   Finally my journey through Excelsior's nursing degree has been beaten.  Had to wait for about 5 weeks before the school would send my transcripts to the state of PA. BON.  After about 6 weeks I received my Authorization to Test letter.

   Scheduled my NCLEX-RN test and , thanks be to God, I passed on my first attempt.

Finally I am an RN as of October 2021 and work in the ER at a local hospital and love it.


    This was just my experience of attending Excelsior College and getting my degree in Nursing. 

   If you have any further questions regarding Salary information  please feel free to send me a PM and I can go over it more thouroughly.


  Sorry about the length of the email.

debkj, BSN

15 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Nursing. Has 29 years experience.

I don’t have an answer to your question but I just want to say I have the utmost respect for you medics. You handle everything. And your pay and working conditions are awful. Good luck- (former flight nurse who knows how ba-a** you are)