Paramedic Vs Registered Nurse: knowledge

  1. It seems that Most paramedics or at least many of the ones I have encountered feel they are more competent in knowledge and procedures when compared to RNs. I'm not trying to start a war here, but who do you think has more medical knowledge? I feel and think RNs do but why do some medics feel this way?
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    About EMEddie

    Joined: Sep '09; Posts: 209; Likes: 33
    EMS; from US

    41 Comments

  3. by   traumaRUs
    Oh boy - you are opening an old can of worms. Probably don't want to go there - lol.

    Ok from my opinion: (I'm an advanced practice nurse with 10 years as an RN in a level one trauma center. I'm also a volunteer pre-hospital RN on my rural fire dept for over 11 years)

    They know two separate knowledge bases:

    1. The medic on the streets knows who is sick, what to do (per protocol) and when to do it. They make short work of pt care because they are there for care and TRANSPORT, not to definitively treat.

    2. RNs have a more in-depth knowledge base that allows them to do a more thorough assessment. They have more knowledge of meds/vents/technical aspects of medical care. They are also more concerned with long term care of the pt.

    Both are equal and needed - one is not higher/lower/in-between, etc...
  4. by   paramed1
    Ok, I currently have my foot in both worlds! (work my weekends as a medic and week days as a nursing student)

    I think as was stated before it is almost two different realms... paramedics focus on the here and now, and nurses kind of focus on long term.

    Also, the easiest way to put this... nurses know a little about a lot, paramedics know a lot about a little.

    In terms of skills, yes I do feel more confident about my skills and knowledge as a paramedic, but you have to understand a couple of things :

    a) paramedics focus only on prehospital emergency care as a whole, so our scope may be more advanced in some areas than nurses (e.g. pleural decompression, intubation, surgical airways), but we have a limited set of skills.
    b) paramedic training focuses on repetition ( of particular medications and procedures) so that you can learn to function on your own
    c) Paramedics are only with a patient for a very short period of time, so we can only do what is immediately necessary.
    d) education for the paramedic focus on knowing a certain amount of information inside and out, so that you can function within parameters without needing a physician's orders
    e) part of paramedic training/ working as a paramedic is learning to be confident... you are on your own with no one to help, you have to be extremely confident and portray that to you patients.

    Nursing-
    a) nurses (like I said previously) focus on more long term care, and typically can spend more time with their patients.
    b) their range of procedures they do and medications they give runs the gauntlet (e.g. one day you may work med/surg and the next in the NICU)..so you might not encounters something as much, and you are able to do more under physicians orders
    c) education for the nurse focuses on outdated idealistic practices so you pass an exam, not really on how to take care of a patient

    All in all, I feel much more confident about my abilities as a paramedic because of the limited drugs/interventions, the repetition focused on in school, the explicit training time focused on specifically patient care (as opposed to clincials focusing on completing care plans), and the required continuing education/proving proficiency in skills.

    Now my disclaimer to this post, is I am a nursing student, so an experienced nurse may have a completely different opinion. Also, I hope I didn't offend anyone

    Hope this helps!
    Last edit by paramed1 on Nov 19, '10 : Reason: Further reflection
  5. by   tony51783
    I am a paramedic and a Registered Nurse . Being a paramedic helped you understand nursing better but nurses know a lot more than a paramedic . Paramedics think they know a lot but the reality is that they have no clue on how to take care of a patient. All they know is how to put patients on a scretcher, start an IV , apply O2 and transport . You ask them what a beta blocker is or an ace inhibitor they do not have a clue on what the medication is and how it works . Paramedics like to think that they know more just because they are out on the street but all they know is transport. I am a paramedic and I can say that . As a matter of fact , I would tell people to not be paramedics , be a nurse instead . It's is a much better profession and a lot more respectable .
  6. by   springchick1
    Quote from tony51783
    Paramedics like to think that they know more just because they are out on the street but all they know is transport. I am a paramedic and I can say that . As a matter of fact , I would tell people to not be paramedics , be a nurse instead . It's is a much better profession and a lot more respectable .
    Wow! I find it hard to believe someone would disrespect their profession like that. I bet if you talked to the people who were saved by paramedics, the would have nothing but respect for the paramedics. Paramedics are on the front line and often in dangerous situations. They know a lot more than just transport. I would hope that any paramedic working on me takes pride in their job and has a better attitude about it.
  7. by   classicdame
    There is definitely a place for both professions. I know many EMT/Paramedics who have become nurses. I assume it is because they wanted the option to do more with and for the patient. That should tell you something.

    There are some nurses who believe they could be an MD. I say, go for it. I hear them make fun of MD decisions. But don't try to practice medicine till you are licensed to do so.
  8. by   tony51783
    I worked in the field and I know what really goes on as a paramedic. I was disappointed and changed professions. Nurses know a lot more than paramedics. I used my paramedic license to get into nursing school, earned a 3.4 GPA, won the award for spirit of nursing and made a speech. I also passed the NCLEX first time around. Being a paramedic is good if you want to pursue a career in nursing , ARNP, and or an MD. I am honored to be a nurse and I take pride knowing that I can help my patients in ways that a paramedic can't.
  9. by   nurseprnRN
    It's not an either-or, I-know-this-and-you-don't dichotomy. We all know a lot in common. Looking strictly at the basic educational requirements for initial practice (not expertise gained by motivated individuals over many years of work and independent study), the nursing education is more fully-fleshed for "medical" knowledge (which is not, in itself, the be-all, end-all need for patient care, so you can check your assumption on that too).

    Do not make the common mistake that there's some sort of ladder-like hierarchy that starts with (whatever) and ends at the top with physicians. Out-of-hospital paramedic / EMT is one ladder, nursing is a different one, medicine is a different one. None of us know as much about another as we do about our own. Physicians don't know much about hospital- or home-based patient care (and I'm not talking about tasks like making beds or everyone's favorite example, "bedpans") or out-of-hospital emergency care; nurses don't prescribe many things relegated to medical plans of care or do out of hospital emergency care; EMTs don't do surgery, prescribe, or much of anything regarding the bulk of patient care. We are all team members, each of us takes the lead at different points in meeting patient needs, and wise ones recognize that and celebrate it.
  10. by   Purple_roses
    Quote from tony51783
    . As a matter of fact , I would tell people to not be paramedics , be a nurse instead . It's is a much better profession and a lot more respectable .
    I would DEFINITELY not tell everyone to be a nurse instead of a paramedic. We need both very badly. A paramedic is the one who buys the patient valuable time so that they may live to be treated at a hospital. Both are crucial in saving lives.
  11. by   tony51783
    Thank you for the information but I am not sure if you have a paramedic background. I do and I experienced it. Nurses know a lot more and are better equipped to take care of the patient. I am a paramedic and I can tell you that they do not know anything. All they know is to transport patients to the hospital. Like I said before, certain things I have experienced as a paramedic turned me off and from "MY" experience, I can tell you that they know nothing of nothing. I am a paramedic and I know this for a fact. That is why I changed professions so I can better myself. I am talking out of experience. I plan to further my education. I plan to get my BSN and eventually get my DNP. I feel by further my education I can better myself and my patients. Paramedics can't do that, the only thing they can do is change professions if they want to better them selves.
  12. by   tony51783
    I am not sure what background you have but yes they are both crucial in saving lives but nurses are better equipped to care for patients. Paramedics do not have the intellectual capacity to undergo this task. They only know how to drive a truck and charge the patient a lot of $$$$$ to transport them. I am a paramedic so I can say this. I changed my profession to RN to help patients and to treat them the right way.
  13. by   Esme12
    Quote from tony51783
    I am not sure what background you have but yes they are both crucial in saving lives but nurses are better equipped to care for patients. Paramedics do not have the intellectual capacity to undergo this task. They only know how to drive a truck and charge the patient a lot of $$$$$ to transport them. I am a paramedic so I can say this. I changed my profession to RN to help patients and to treat them the right way.
    I am nurse and a paramedic. I have worked trauma flight. I can't disagree with you more...the medics I worked with have the intellectual capacity to care for patients.

    They are completely different care models...both are valuable members of healthcare.

    You are a new grad and I would be cautious about tossing your previous experience down the drain and minimizing it's impact on your experience as a nurse.

    This thread is almost 5 years old...nursing knowledge is completely different from a paramedics but I wouldn't say medics don't have intellectual capacity to give good care.
    Last edit by Esme12 on Dec 31, '14
  14. by   nurseprnRN
    Also, a lot of people don't know the difference between a paramedic and an EMT. It's largely (though not 1:1) analogous to the difference between an RN and a CNA.

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