Going from RN to Paramedic

Posted
by mater44 Member

Yes, you read the title right. I am currently in nursing school. I am also an EMT-B, and have been one for 2 years now. I am coming to the realization that I really really enjoy EMS work. What I would like to do is finish nursing school (in Aug) and then get my Paramedic. I am wondering if there is anyone on here that has done this, as it is rather backward compared to the "traditional" way of doing things. If so, what were your reasons for doing so, and do you feel you can still have a more than comfortable way of life (to me that means being able to take a decent vacation once a year). I appreciate any feedback as this is a difficult thought process for me, because I feel I am going against the grain and I just need others non-biased (aka-you don't know me) opinions on the matter.

AprilRNurse

Specializes in Med/surg, rural CCU. Has 3 years experience. 186 Posts

Why would you want to do that? They are more limited, can do less, make less money...and still have all that responsibility. And- if you actually get your RN lisence, you'll be paid paramedic pay- but held to RN standards.

Why not work ER if you like that type of work?

nerdtonurse?, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU, Telemetry. 3 Articles; 2,043 Posts

Sounds like you'd be a good flight nurse. A lot of the programs that I know of want the RN/Paramedic combo. You'd get the EMS side of the house a plenty with people who were really in need of your help. You might have luck asking on a flight nurse board about programs, etc.....Good luck!

BigB_RN

Specializes in EKG interpretation, LTC, oncology. 32 Posts

Are there more job openings being a paramedic? We all know how many job openings are out there as a new grad nurse.

dthfytr, ADN, LPN, RN, EMT-B, EMT-I

Specializes in ER, Trauma. Has 30 years experience. 1,162 Posts

Nothing wrong with it. Tried to find a straight RN to EMT-P program with no luck. Many programs for Paramedic to RN though. I've worked both sides of the fence (EMT-I and RN) and really miss "doing it in the streets." You'd be a superb addition to any aero-medical firm. You'd be able to fill a niche not many can, and enjoy the best of both worlds, good pay as a RN, and the flexibilty to use your paramedic skills outside the hospital. Just keep a clear picture in mind of what you can do where. Good Luck.

EMSnut45, BSN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ICU and EMS. Has 13 years experience. 2 Articles; 178 Posts

I have been a volunteer EMT-B for 8 years and have been an RN for almost 2 years. I am half way through an accelerated paramedic program. I actually got into EMS to see what type of nursing I might want to get into. Then I realized that EMS is a branch of healthcare, and decided that I don't want to leave! My ultimate goal is to become a flight nurse.

The state that I live in does not recognize pre-hospital RN's, so I have to become a paramedic in order to gain the additional skills (EJ's, intubation, RSI, surgical cricoidotomies, needle decompression...). I am actually glad that I am sitting in on the class because I am absorbing more of the information that I was not able to during nursing school.

I think that RN's and paramedics think differently but ultimately come to the same treatment plan. One is not better than the other-- they are just different. Having both backgrounds will do nothing but help your patients as you care for them. The whole "you will be held to the highest license" thing is silly. Both licenses are of approximately the same weight. Really neither one is higher than the other. It really doesn't bother me now as an EMT-B and RN-- when I am an EMT, I have very specific protocols to follow, and I know I follow them-- I can't get in trouble for that!

I will give you the same advice that my mom gave me when I was trying to decide what classes to take first: If you burn out as a paramedic, you don't have anywhere else to go. If you burn out as a nurse, you can change specialties, turn to office work, or go back to school.

Don't drop out of nursing school! By having your RN, you will have endless possibilities open to you, even if you don't use your RN.

Feel free to PM me if you have any additional questions!! Good luck!

Edited by EMSnut45
I can't spell...

dspaldrn/emt

9 Posts

Why would you want to do that? They are more limited, can do less, make less money...and still have all that responsibility. And- if you actually get your RN lisence, you'll be paid paramedic pay- but held to RN standards.

Why not work ER if you like that type of work?

actually... a paramedic can perform more skills than a RN and have higher pre-hospital standards. yes they do make less money but working in ems is "fun" and allows you to have actual automony. plus you get save peoples' lives which is better than money.

I have spent more time relating stories about my experiences in ems ( i was a paramedic for 5 yrs) than i have my nursing career.

find a good paramedic program that will give you college credit, most of your nursing classes will count towards a degree in the applied science of emergency medicine. just be forewarned... if you want to get real ems working on "the truck" you are going to run into more than your fair share of nurses who will look down on you because they " know more/educated/have RN behind their name".

getting your paramedic training will definitly help you with your assessment skills, ACLS (coding pt), and you will spend more time studying cardiology than you did during your whole time in nursing school.

best wishes, message me if you have ?'s

highlandlass1592, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 13 years experience. 1 Article; 647 Posts

I echo what many of the others have said here. Make sure to try to get into a program that will give you as much credit as possible from nursing pre-req's to becoming a paramedic. If you want more information, check out a flight nursing organization, like this: http://www.astna.org/

I commend you for wanting to pursue your dream. I would caution you however that it may be limiting. I have a friend who has his RN, paramedics degree and has been a flight nurse for many years. He's now pursuing his master's degree so he can become an NP. For him, he's topped out as to what he can do in flight nursing. He's maxxed out on salary and while he loves what he does, he feels as he gets older, he may be limiting himself. So he's pursuing an alternate road.

Please don't think I'm trying to discourage you from going down this road. I admire my friend greatly, I am a critical care nurse and pretty darn good at what I do. My friend is AWESOME and I am jealous of his experiences. He can do things I can only dream of. While he's enjoyed all he's done, he realizes it may limit his future somewhat (he is now a single parent of 5 children) so he's seeking out further education. So, if you can, take that into account. And reach for the stars! Good luck to you.

chorkle

228 Posts

As several posters have said, or suggested, consider flight nursing.

Where I worked as a paramedic in Texas, flight crews on the helicopter (besides the pilot) consisted of a paramedic and an RN--and the RN was generally required to be a paramedic besides.

As to fixed wing flight nursing (transports), I have no experiential information to send along.

nurse2033, MSN, RN

Specializes in ER, ICU. 3 Articles; 2,129 Posts

If you really like the field, go for it. I work as both myself. Most nurses have no idea what working in the field is really like, that's one reason paramedics don't get much respect. I would give yourself time to get comfortable nursing. You will have a ton to learn about operations, trauma, ACLS and PALS. It's a lot different running the code when you are the only one who knows the protocol. Good luck.

ObtundedRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 6 years experience. 428 Posts

I'm just hoping this doesn't turn into another EMS vs Nursing ******* contest. I too have worked EMS and now a nurse. I will say, you could also consider ICU nursing. Your patients are almost always critical. They may not always be crashing, but they are critical. Which is more then a street medic can say (where only about 5-15% of their patients are truely ALS). As to the previous comment about medics being able to do more, that isn't completely correct. While there are a few skills they can do that a nurse can't. In some places a nurse can do the skill if allowed by facility policy. Also, keep in mind that medics have a limited formulary of meds they can carry, administer, or monitor during interfacility transports. RNs are not limited to this.

And I always hate the argument that medics have better assessment and critical thinking skills. I agree with this statement if you compare a medic to a med/surg nurse, but not always true if you compare a medic to an ER or ICU nurse. Not all nurses are created equal, and the same can be said with medics.

I also hate the argument of medics having more autonomy. Yes when on the street we get to decide what is wrong and how to treat it. But your treatment is ultimately dependant on protocols. Nothing autonomous about that. Just the responsibility of correctly assessing your patient and deciding whats wrong, then following the appropriate protocol. Nurses assess and figure out whats wrong too, only difference is there is no protocol for everything. Instead we have to inform the MD of what we found and help them decide the correct course of treatment or further diagnostics. In the ICU I do have the autonomy to run 12-leads, CXR, KUB, ABGs, etc without the MD's order. I run the test and then call with the situation and result of those tests. Unfortunately these things are not available to EMS (although it could be awesome to have in the field, lol).

I really enjoy nursing because I'm interested in the medicine. EMS just didn't have that much medicine to it. In the field the patient had respiratory distress. In the hospital, you find out the resp distress is due to cancer, or a heart condition, etc. Which requires much more medicine than just O2, maybe an albuterol inhaler, and some high flow diesel.

That being said, I still love EMS and miss it very much. I found the work to be easier. Sure, you have the morbidly obese patients on the 3rd floor in the back room that can't walk, and running around the city all night. But at least you have more opportunity to eat, sleep, watch TV, study, etc.

They are both very important fields. They both do similar but different roles, which require similar but different skills. I think people start to compare the two, but forget that fact. Also, perhaps the reason medics don't earn as much money has something to do with the fact that they are not always working with a patient. No patient, means nothing is billable, means no income for the agency. Also, most EMS agencies belong to the government, which is broke enough already. I wish medics did earn equal pay to nurses. They deserve it.

mater44

22 Posts

I appreciate those who answered my question. I am very aware of the limiting factors of being a paramedic, that is why I will still finish my BSN and then go on to paramedic, so I have both. It is not all about the money for me, it really isn't. It's nice to have, but I want some job satisfaction as well. Additionally, there are the little things that make a difference for me. The camaraderie you find in an EMS agency or fire dept. The fact that I won't be in a building or worse same room/s for 12 hours straight. I love the aspect of not knowing what you will get when you get on scene. It is the intangibles of EMS work that makes it extremely attractive. Additionally, I plan on pursuing wilderness medicine and this area is dominated by paramedics versus RNs. As an RN I will definitely want to work in the ER and possibly labor and delivery (yes, I enjoyed the babies, lol). I enjoy nursing because I enjoy learning about the human body through medicine and the patient interaction I get as a nurse.

Nothing wrong with it. Tried to find a straight RN to EMT-P program with no luck. Many programs for Paramedic to RN though. I've worked both sides of the fence (EMT-I and RN) and really miss "doing it in the streets." You'd be a superb addition to any aero-medical firm. You'd be able to fill a niche not many can, and enjoy the best of both worlds, good pay as a RN, and the flexibilty to use your paramedic skills outside the hospital. Just keep a clear picture in mind of what you can do where. Good Luck.

Thanks for the input, I appreciate it.

I have been a volunteer EMT-B for 8 years and have been an RN for almost 2 years. I am half way through an accelerated paramedic program. I actually got into EMS to see what type of nursing I might want to get into. Then I realized that EMS is a branch of healthcare, and decided that I don't want to leave! My ultimate goal is to become a flight nurse.

The state that I live in does not recognize pre-hospital RN's, so I have to become a paramedic in order to gain the additional skills (EJ's, intubation, RSI, surgical cricoidotomies, needle decompression...). I am actually glad that I am sitting in on the class because I am absorbing more of the information that I was not able to during nursing school.

I think that RN's and paramedics think differently but ultimately come to the same treatment plan. One is not better than the other-- they are just different. Having both backgrounds will do nothing by help your patients as you care for them. The whole "you will be held to the highest license" thing is silly. Both licenses are of approximately the same weight. Really neither one is higher than the other. It really doesn't bother me now as an EMT-B and RN-- when I am an EMT, I have very specific protocols to follow, and I know I follow them-- I can't get in trouble for that!

I will give you the same advice that my mom gave me when I was trying to decide what classes to take first: If you burn out as a paramedic, you don't have anywhere else to go. If you burn out as a nurse, you can change specialties, turn to office work, or go back to school.

Don't drop out of nursing school! By having your RN, you will have endless possibilities open to you, even if you don't use your RN.

Feel free to PM me if you have any additional questions!! Good luck!

Thanks. I have no intentions of dropping out of nursing school. It sounds like you are doing what I am hoping to do.

actually... a paramedic can perform more skills than a RN and have higher pre-hospital standards. yes they do make less money but working in ems is "fun" and allows you to have actual automony. plus you get save peoples' lives which is better than money.

I have spent more time relating stories about my experiences in ems ( i was a paramedic for 5 yrs) than i have my nursing career.

find a good paramedic program that will give you college credit, most of your nursing classes will count towards a degree in the applied science of emergency medicine. just be forewarned... if you want to get real ems working on "the truck" you are going to run into more than your fair share of nurses who will look down on you because they " know more/educated/have RN behind their name".

getting your paramedic training will definitly help you with your assessment skills, ACLS (coding pt), and you will spend more time studying cardiology than you did during your whole time in nursing school.

best wishes, message me if you have ?'s

I couldn't agree more about learning more in paramedic training than in nursing school. At least so far, that has been my case. I am in an accelerated nursing program that is completed in one year, and after 5 months, I'm not sure I have learned anything. haha.

I'm just hoping this doesn't turn into another EMS vs Nursing ******* contest. I too have worked EMS and now a nurse. I will say, you could also consider ICU nursing. Your patients are almost always critical. They may not always be crashing, but they are critical. Which is more then a street medic can say (where only about 5-15% of their patients are truely ALS). As to the previous comment about medics being able to do more, that isn't completely correct. While there are a few skills they can do that a nurse can't. In some places a nurse can do the skill if allowed by facility policy. Also, keep in mind that medics have a limited formulary of meds they can carry, administer, or monitor during interfacility transports. RNs are not limited to this.

Nope, not comparing the two or asking which one is better. I have been around both fields to know there is a difference, not better not worse. I spent my entire semester in the MICU and I can safely say I don't want to work in the MICU. Maybe SICU or CICU, but probably not. I honestly could care less which position gets to administer more meds. I will work within the protocols of each accordingly, it's not really a consideration.

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