To be a Nurse (RN) or Paramedic

  1. Hi all!

    I'm going to do a complete career change (at 28 yrs old) and was planning on going back to school to become an RN. I have also really thought about becoming a Paramedic instead; reasons being:

    - I can afford the Paramedic schooling myself without a student loan and it would take less than a year, where as Nursing would take 4 years, I'd need student loans, and there is a 1-2 year wait list. So I'd be saving sooo much money and time going the Paramedic route.

    Although, I know there are big advantages to being a Nurse: Full-time job right out of school, a bit better pay, more opportunities to branch out, can work anywhere, and I'd have a bachelor's degree....

    For those of you who are RN's and familiar with the Paramedic profession, what is your opinion? Do the pros of becoming an RN outweigh the amount of debt and time I'd save becoming a Paramedic? I'm sure I'd enjoy both professions so that's not really the issue.

    Thanks for your feedback!
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    About RN_waitlister

    Joined: May '09; Posts: 25; Likes: 3


  3. by   ruralgirl08
    Just some points to think about: What is the job market like for paramedics in your area? I know in SW Ontario, paramedic jobs are harder to come by, so if you went this route, you may have to move to the bigger cities for even part-time work. In general RN jobs are easier to find. Do you like to change jobs every few years, or do you like to stay in the same area? (Nursing is probably more flexible, b/c you can just move around the hospital/community/ect.) If you were to choose nursing what area would you be intersted in working? Do you like to spend time with patients and possibly see them for a few shifts in a row and possible meet their family, or would you like to assist them for a brief amount of time and move on to the next?
    I would suggest making a pros and cons list, and talking to as many paramedics and nurses you may know personally, they are both great professions.
    I think it really should come down to what profession you would really like to be doing. People spend many years of their life working, so its important to like what you do.
    And about the student loan, it's doable if you plan it right, work part-time through school, move home if you have to, and live on a budget. I thought of mine as owing for a new car, (which I paid off in just over a year with working fulltime hours and being frugal.) Good luck on your decision!
  4. by   Fiona59
    In the current economy having RN after your name isn't a guarantee of a full time job anywhere in the country.

    It's unionized just like the paramedics.

    Do you need the fast pace that the EMTs have? Would you like to walk into strangers homes, be first on the scene at road accidents? Do you want to be out in the rain and snow?

    EMTs can work in the lumber and oil camps.

    Only you can decide which way to go.
  5. by   kw123
    Something to think about if money is your big concern is that an RN makes more money than a paramedic so you will be able to pay you student loan off pretty fast and I dont know what province you are from but in BC if you have a student loan and work in a community which is short of nurses which is pretty much anywhere there like ten cities you cant work in bc with pay back your BC student loan if you work there for 4 years that equals about half of you student loan as the other half is from the canadian government. It is a really good repay back program for those who need student loans.
  6. by   NorthernStudent
    Hi Kal

    I was in the same boat as you when I decided to go back to school. In fact, I was same age as you as well. I was also considering doing the Paramedic program as the time/money was less. When it came right down to it, I talked to a few paramedics most of whom said that if they could do it over again they would take the nursing route. It was a surprise to me but one of the biggest complaints I heard was the "downtime" that they had to kill. I don't know about you, but I couldn't picture sitting in an ambulance waiting for a call on a slow night. One of the reasons I left my former Gov job was that it was too slow. If you are looking for the excitement that comes with being a paramedic, there are many critical care areas that will give you a fair share. Probably the biggest reason that I decided to go into nursing was the countless options that I'll have upon graduation. I like the idea that I can go back for my masters, or perhaps become a nurse practitioner.

    In the end though, you have to do what's right for you. In my opinion though if it's the money that's guiding you, you should really take a good look at why you want to do one or the other. From my own personal experience, the times I've made decisions based on money haven't turned out all that great.

    Good luck.
  7. by   astn
    Don't bother going to 'medic school. In many states, you can (sadly) challenge into the position of a prehospital RN. Nurses generally get paid better then paramedics, have less stressful jobs and working conditions, better respect, better career progression, better hours.

    If you want to be a FIREFIGHTER and have reasonable expectation of getting on with a large, respectable department, then being a paramedic can pay off. However, on it's own merits, it's a hard sell.
  8. by   Fiona59
    Things are different up here in Canada. Nobody can "challenge" into any nursing profession.

    In many provinces, EMTs are very separate entities from firefighters. Different unions. At least in my province, ambulances aren't even kept near firehalls.
  9. by   RN_waitlister
    Thanks for all the feedback! I have since decided what I plan on doing (BTW, I'm in BC). I do eventually want to become an RN but will do it in a round about way:

    I'm going to take a part-time Emergency Medical Responder program and start doing some ambulance work on the weekends while I keep my full-time job. Then I'm going to apply to be a full-time Emergency Dispatcher for a few years. It would be interesting and I'd learn a lot during this time and how to deal in a stressful environment. It also pays better than my current job so I can save and eventually do the RN program loan-free. Plus, there is a 2 year waitlist for the RN program anyways so this gives me the opportunity to get into the medical field while I'm waiting and get some valuble experience and skills.

    This is a longer way to do it but for me it makes sense and gives me experience in different areas. Although this is my current plan, it may not work out exactly this way but it's what I'd like to do for now.