Currently in nursing school, working as an EMT now, used to be a CNA. I LOVE EMS! I am planning on taking a paramedic bridge course when I graduate. There are a lot of things a paramedic can do that a nurse cannot, and vice versa (keep in mind, the scope of practice changes where you live). I do not see how you could get your EMT cert while in nursing school. There are a lot of aspects of EMS that cannot and are not covered in nursing school, such as backboards, c-spine, ambulance opertations, etc. Here in NC, there are three EMT levels. An EMT-Basic does just that, basic stuff. You usually drive which the medic is in the back with the patient. You do get good at vitals, esp in loud settings. And after driving an ambulance, you can drive just about anything. A basic can put O2 on (its considered a drug), give activated charcoal, and can assist with an epi-pen or a patients own nitro. The can also do oral suctioning. An EMT-Intermediate does more advanced skills. They can insert IV's (including EJ's, although the hospital doesn't like for us to), ETT's, and can pass drugs po, IM, IV, and thru the ETT. However, I don't feel like proper instruction was given to my intermediate class (which I dropped due to nursing clinicals) on drugs. I don't think a lot of people in the class understood how important some aspects of care were, like IV pushes being timed. I think I's can give about 11-16 meds, including o2 and the basic meds. The can do EKG's, but I don't think they interpet them. Paramedics do all of the above. It's about to be so where you have to take a college A&P course to get done with medic training, and it's probably going to be a 2-yr degree here soon. Medics can also do needle cric's (cutting a hole in the trachea so a pt can breathe). The can cardiovert someone, interpet EKG's, and all sorts of other good things. They have to do 2000 hrs clinical...1000 hospital and 1000 ride time.
As far as being an EMT and getting nursing experience, I wouldn't recommend it. Like I said, I usually drive, although now that I am further in nursing school, I think they'll let me ride more. Nursing school has helped out my assessment a LOT when I'm with an ems pt. As far as IV's...if you can get an IV on the back on the truck, then you'll be fine in the hospital. Actually heard of a medic who became a nurse who needed someone to rock the bed, b/c she was so used to trying to get IV's in a truck.
It's a fun job, and I have a lot of respect for the people I see in the hospital.-Andrea