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Paramedic looking for a career change...

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by NYCNative21 NYCNative21 (Member)

NYCNative21 has 4 years experience and works as a Emergency Medical Technician.

1,158 Visitors; 99 Posts

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Hello, 

 

Not really sure how to start this post other than introducing myself. Right now I am a 25 year old male paramedic. I’ve been in EMS for about four years now and I am looking to move on to better opportunities and better growth but the dilemma I’m running into is where. 

 

If I was 18 years old again I would of most likely choose the physician assistant route but seeing that I am 25 now and will need to start from scratch I am not sure if I can afford to go through all the schooling necessary while being a single male by myself paying bills. 

 

The careers that interest me have been Biomedical engineering, Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, Registered Dietitian and Physical Therapist. I decided not to pursue physical therapy due to the change of requirements requiring a masters degree to now requiring a doctoral degree. Biomedical engineer is still on my mind but I am not completely sure about pursuing due to the lack of jobs and the lack of ability to work while pursuing the degree. 

 

I saw a bridge program for paramedics to nurses which interested me but I am not sure if nursing is the right fit for me. For example I love taking care of people and really helping someone through a rough time but the sad reality of the medical field is majority of the people we see or treat do not require it and it’s always a drunk or someone with some form of mental disorder having a panic attack. After a while i can see how it would burn me out or really anyone. What I love about nursing is that it offers many opportunities and different career paths but at the same time I am not sure if I find that to be the only reason why I would pursue nursing. I do like that you can work as a nurse while attending NP school but at the same time I dislike it because I can see why NP will be looked down upon from other healthcare professionals. I like the Physician assistant over NP due to the amount of clinical hours one needs to complete during the program and how a PA has more luxury to switch specialities if they want to. For example I want to work within the sports medicine area of a mid level provider but I do not believe it would be as simple for a NP compared to PA. The only turn off for me when it comes to PA school is the lack of ability to work and pay for my bills while in school compared to NP I’ll be able to do that. 

 

After saying this I do not want the misconception that I look down on either the PA or NP because I don’t. I think both fields have great professionals and both play a hit role in the health care system. I just am not sure which one is right for me. 

 

I apologize for the rant but I am just not sure what I want to do and maybe I’m just looking for some wisdom and advice from people who have taken such paths or had any recommendations on other paths or what someone might of done differently. Thank you for your time and reading my post! 

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5,578 Visitors; 422 Posts

If you don't want to be a nurse, don't. 

You're 25, single and only have to worry about supporting yourself. Now is the time to do whatever it is you're going to do.  It doesn't seem just that easy now from your perspective, but it really is.  

It's just a matter of getting what you want by working hard for it, which sounds like you are willing to do.  I assume you don't just pick up right into PA school, you have pre-reqs or what have you? Definitely can do that AND work.  When you actually get into PA school, do what you gotta do to get through it.  Hopefully with minimal loans, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

If you want to be a PA, best get started.  Time will just keep passing & things will get more complicated.  

Good luck. 

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NYCNative21 has 4 years experience and works as a Emergency Medical Technician.

1,158 Visitors; 99 Posts

24 minutes ago, MiladyMalarkey said:

If you don't want to be a nurse, don't. 

You're 25, single and only have to worry about supporting yourself. Now is the time to do whatever it is you're going to do.  It doesn't seem just that easy now from your perspective, but it really is.  

It's just a matter of getting what you want by working hard for it, which sounds like you are willing to do.  I assume you don't just pick up right into PA school, you have pre-reqs or what have you? Definitely can do that AND work.  When you actually get into PA school, do what you gotta do to get through it.  Hopefully with minimal loans, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

If you want to be a PA, best get started.  Time will just keep passing & things will get more complicated.  

Good luck. 

The issue is I am not sure if I want to be a nurse or not. Usually, that is an indication for someone to say that you should not pursue a field that you are unsure of but at the same time, the reason why I like the Nurse route is that you can work and make decent money all the way up to your masters degree.

Yes, I am only 25-years old which in many peoples minds is young and I would agree but in college years it's not very young anymore. If I were to go the PA route I would need to get a bachelors degree which can take me 3-4 years. I will be 29-30 years old. Then I'll have to apply to PA school and hope to get in right away. Then I'll be 30-31 years old and the time I graduate ill be around 35-37 years old. 

Another concern I will have to worry about is how I will need to pay bills while going to PA school. Do I stay on campus or rent a very cheap apartment. If I rent an apartment will I be able to afford it and keep up with my bills? If I go to living on campus I will be old compared to other students and then I will accumulate even more debt.  

 

Thank you for the respond!

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Luchador has 5 years experience as a CNA, EMT-B.

1,360 Visitors; 211 Posts

Take out a s*** ton of student loans and go to PA School then do a few years in the military and have them all paid off

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NYCNative21 has 4 years experience and works as a Emergency Medical Technician.

1,158 Visitors; 99 Posts

18 minutes ago, Luchador said:

Take out a s*** ton of student loans and go to PA School then do a few years in the military and have them all paid off

I am understanding the student loans but again my main concern is how I will still be able to afford living in an apartment while attending PA school. Also the time I graduate PA school I won’t be able to get into the military. I’ll reach the age requirement cut off. 

Edited by NYCNative21

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You could go into the reserves now while working on your other degree/prerequisites and still get the GI bill to pay for PA school. You could work a ton now and save up for living expenses while in PA school. Try volunteering at a hospital directly with nurses to see if that route does interest you. I know you said the realities discourage you, but you also have to consider that the emergency-based job you do now is a much different experience (though not entirely) than regular medical care (not saying there isn't crossover in the populations you treat). 25 is super young. Where there is a will, there is a way... trust me, no one (or very, very few) actually had an easy path through school. 

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NICUmiiki has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a NICU RN.

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20 hours ago, NYCNative21 said:

I am understanding the student loans but again my main concern is how I will still be able to afford living in an apartment while attending PA school. Also the time I graduate PA school I won’t be able to get into the military. I’ll reach the age requirement cut off. 

I think the Army Med Corps will commission people into their 40s without waivers.

And you'd do it the way all the other PA students (and med students) do it: student loans.

Edited by NICUmiiki

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NYCNative21 has 4 years experience and works as a Emergency Medical Technician.

1,158 Visitors; 99 Posts

19 hours ago, araew2129 said:

You could go into the reserves now while working on your other degree/prerequisites and still get the GI bill to pay for PA school. You could work a ton now and save up for living expenses while in PA school. Try volunteering at a hospital directly with nurses to see if that route does interest you. I know you said the realities discourage you, but you also have to consider that the emergency-based job you do now is a much different experience (though not entirely) than regular medical care (not saying there isn't crossover in the populations you treat). 25 is super young. Where there is a will, there is a way... trust me, no one (or very, very few) actually had an easy path through school. 

I was considering going into the reserves but my concern with that is how likely would it all work out. Right now I am currently in the process of trying to save up as much money as I can. I will definitely have to take some time out of my busy schedule to show a nurse or NP because I am not completely sure if I want to be a nurse or not. It's hard to say because all I hear from the nursing career is how stressful it is and how the nurses are treated so poorly. I am not looking to change a low paying stressful career to an even more stressful career if that makes sense. 

Really the main reason why I thoroughly like the Physician Assistant career is for one dumb reason and one legit reason. The dumb reason is I like how Physician Assistant sounds compared to Nurse Practitioner. The legit reason I like the PA career is that if I wanted to change specialties I have the ability to do so without having to worry about going back to school. The two main specialties I love are the Orthopedic and Cardiology. For cardiology, I would love to specialize in the electrophysiology area. If I choose the NP route I will not be able to change specialties so easy and I will most likely need to go back to school to do so which is a big turn off for me. 

I do appreciate the kind words saying 25 is so young which it is but the way I look at it is I see other people becoming PA's at such young ages in their mid-twenties and I feel like I am behind on the eight balls. The time I would become a PA if I choose that route is more likely in my forties. The reason being is right now I do not have a bachelors degree so I would need to work on attaining that. That will take 3-5 years so I will be in my 30's when that is complete and then its another two years for my masters in PA but depending how long I get accepted into it will depend on my age. It will also depend on my income at the time and where I am in life. RIght now I am still in the process of trying to leave Georgia and move to Texas for a good EMS company that pays well but right now it can be a year from now until I get on. This is why I feel like 25 is now young anymore for me. The time I reach my goal I will start getting near my mid-forties and that's not ideal for me. Sorry for the rant. 

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Yes, I get it. I thought I was way behind by being in my early 20s before I ever went to school for anything. But I did it anyway. And then I got my bachelor's degree, enjoyed a 10 yr career in that field, and now I am going back to school for nursing with hopes that by the time I am 45 (I am 37 now) I will have my MSN and have transitioned into the nursing specialty I am aiming for (case management). And at this point I STILL have another 20+ year career in the nursing field to look forward to! 25 is still young enough to achieve whatever it is you want. I can see how the PA path will take years to achieve... but hell, you still be 40 someday either way. Best to get started if that's what you want! You sound very drawn to that path, I'd just start working towards it. 

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Matthew RN has 13 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Faculty, Per-diem Pediatric Nurse.

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I'm going to try to clarify some of your misconceptions on PA vs NP.

Respect:  Which one is more respected really depends on your area, they are both mid-levels and close to equivalency.  In my area NPs appear to be more respected.

Oversight:  21 states let NPs practice without any physician oversight (could have own practice).  Not ever an option for a PA.

Specialties:  PAs specialize.  Sometimes this is part of their schooling, for example I know someone who completed a PA program that was geared toward pediatrics specifically.  If you as a PA were trained by a Ortho physician to be his ortho PA you cannot switch to cardiology without finding a cardiologist who wants to train you from scratch.  Suggest you look at what the NP specialties really are.  They are broad enough for what you are saying you want to do.  An FNP for example is pretty broad, an FNP could work in almost any kind of physician's office.  For example an FNP could work in an ortho office and then switch to a cardiology office, this would not require additional schooling (same issues as the PA switching).  I know a recent grad FNP who got a job working for a neurosurgeon (could have been almost any physician).  However, the surgeon wanted the NP to also help with surgery so paid for her to complete an RN-FA program (so in this instance they did need some additional school).

Degree:  NPs can get a Masters NP or a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice).  The DNP is a terminal degree (there is a national push to make this the entry NP degree).  DNP could be called doctor (some states have passed laws prohibiting this).  PA master's is a terminal degree.

Schooling:  Both require a Bachelor's prior to applying.  Initial RN degree is usually more difficult than other degrees.  Once you have your bachelor degree PA will be full-time.  An NP degree should be full-time if you want to complete in a timely manner.  Can be part-time but adds 1-2 years to completion.

Edited by Matthew RN
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NYCNative21 has 4 years experience and works as a Emergency Medical Technician.

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3 hours ago, Matthew RN said:

I'm going to try to clarify some of your misconceptions on PA vs NP.

Respect:  Which one is more respected really depends on your area, they are both mid-levels and close to equivalency.  In my area NPs appear to be more respected.

Oversight:  21 states let NPs practice without any physician oversight (could have own practice).  Not ever an option for a PA.

Specialties:  PAs specialize.  Sometimes this is part of their schooling, for example I know someone who completed a PA program that was geared toward pediatrics specifically.  If you as a PA were trained by a Ortho physician to be his ortho PA you cannot switch to cardiology without finding a cardiologist who wants to train you from scratch.  Suggest you look at what the NP specialties really are.  They are broad enough for what you are saying you want to do.  An FNP for example is pretty broad, an FNP could work in almost any kind of physician's office.  For example an FNP could work in an ortho office and then switch to a cardiology office, this would not require additional schooling (same issues as the PA switching).  I know a recent grad FNP who got a job working for a neurosurgeon (could have been almost any physician).  However, the surgeon wanted the NP to also help with surgery so paid for her to complete an RN-FA program (so in this instance they did need some additional school).

Degree:  NPs can get a Masters NP or a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice).  The DNP is a terminal degree (there is a national push to make this the entry NP degree).  DNP could be called doctor (some states have passed laws prohibiting this).  PA master's is a terminal degree.

Schooling:  Both require a Bachelor's prior to applying.  Initial RN degree is usually more difficult than other degrees.  Once you have your bachelor degree PA will be full-time.  An NP degree should be full-time if you want to complete in a timely manner.  Can be part-time but adds 1-2 years to completion.

First, let me start off by saying I do appreciate you taking the time out of your day to reply to my post. I do however disagree with some of your points and I do mean this in a respectful way. 

 

1. When you talked about respect. I do not believe in my view that PA's or NP's have more respect than others. There may be a select few that may feel this way but those people to me and the real problem. Both NP's and PA's are midlevel providers and that is it. The main difference between the two is NP's treat in a more holistic approach while PA's treat in a more medicine-based approach. Treating in a more holistic approach was one turn off for me. When I was thinking about pursuing a higher degree I wanted to be medicine based. Again this is not to say that I believe this makes one better than the other because it does not. All I am saying is I prefer the medicine modal over the holistic one.  

 

2. When we talk about NP's being able to work without physician oversight, this is not all that truthful. Yes, they may have more opportunities to open up their own practice but in the end, the person is still working under an MD license. They are not completely free. Also even if this was the case, for me having my own practice is not something I am really interested in. If that was the case I would have just chosen MD personally. 

 

3. To say that FNP has more ability to specialize and move on compared to NP is false. I've researched this quite a lot and PA's have more ability to change practices and specializations compared to NP. This is not an argument. 

 

4. I really just can't stand when people think like this and I mean this out fo respect. NO NP IS EVEN CLOSE TO AN MD and any NP who wants to be called a doctor just because they achieved a doctorate is just being disrespectful to the MD. I am not a fan of that at all. NP and PA are midlevel providers and that's it. I would never want anyone calling me a doctor whether I was PA or NP

 

5. I agree with you. 

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Matthew RN has 13 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Faculty, Per-diem Pediatric Nurse.

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53 minutes ago, NYCNative21 said:

First, let me start off by saying I do appreciate you taking the time out of your day to reply to my post. I do however disagree with some of your points and I do mean this in a respectful way. 

 

1. When you talked about respect. I do not believe in my view that PA's or NP's have more respect than others. There may be a select few that may feel this way but those people to me and the real problem. Both NP's and PA's are midlevel providers and that is it. The main difference between the two is NP's treat in a more holistic approach while PA's treat in a more medicine-based approach. Treating in a more holistic approach was one turn off for me. When I was thinking about pursuing a higher degree I wanted to be medicine based. Again this is not to say that I believe this makes one better than the other because it does not. All I am saying is I prefer the medicine modal over the holistic one.  

 

2. When we talk about NP's being able to work without physician oversight, this is not all that truthful. Yes, they may have more opportunities to open up their own practice but in the end, the person is still working under an MD license. They are not completely free. Also even if this was the case, for me having my own practice is not something I am really interested in. If that was the case I would have just chosen MD personally. 

 

3. To say that FNP has more ability to specialize and move on compared to NP is false. I've researched this quite a lot and PA's have more ability to change practices and specializations compared to NP. This is not an argument. 

 

4. I really just can't stand when people think like this and I mean this out fo respect. NO NP IS EVEN CLOSE TO AN MD and any NP who wants to be called a doctor just because they achieved a doctorate is just being disrespectful to the MD. I am not a fan of that at all. NP and PA are midlevel providers and that's it. I would never want anyone calling me a doctor whether I was PA or NP

 

5. I agree with you. 

1) I misread your comment, "I can see why NP will be looked down upon from other healthcare professionals."  Thinking you were talking about PAs looking down on NPs, so I'm good here. 

1.5) As far as the medical model vs. the nursing model.  I have known nurses that go on to become PAs because they feel the same way.  However medicine is trying all the time to be more holistic (it is as much a buzzword in medicine as it is in nursing) and NP programs are truthfully trying to be more medical.  The models are not as different as you would imagine.

2) You might want to (re)research this.  The keywords to search would be "full practice authority".  For the states that have this (21 states) NPs do not have to work under an MD (or DO)'s license at all.  Assuming you live in a state that does not give full practice authority then yes it might never come up.  You were initially talking about having future options.  "Hey am not interested in this now" is different than, "Hey I will never be interested in this." This is one area that the NP has increased options over a PA.

https://www.aanp.org/advocacy/state/state-practice-environment

https://onlinenursing.simmons.edu/nursing-blog/nurse-practitioners-scope-of-practice-map/

3) I'm not sure about your use of FNP vs NP here.  I think you meant PA instead of FNP so I will respond in that way.  The NP does not have more ability to move on vs. a PA, but a similar ability.  Your previous example of working Ortho and moving on to Cardiology and having to get additional schooling as an NP is not correct.  The NP with an FNP specialty would not require any additional schooling.  You might want to talk to PAs that have been working for years and see how easy they can jump specialties.

4) This is an interesting response in how much you apparently are upset about it.  I'm not sure how someone saying "Could be called a doctor" is suggesting an NP is the equal to a physician (suggest using physician instead of MD in your vocab as the DO degree is a medical physician in the same way as an MD but not an MD).  I'm not actually overly impressed with DNPs that want to be called "doctor".

There are quite a few degrees that confer a doctorate and then the person is a doctor, someone with a Ph.d. in chemistry for example could be called a doctor.  I agree this does not make the person equal to a physician.  In the medical world there is an argument that calling anyone but physicians "doctor" is then taking away from the physicians authority (or allowing entrance into an exclusive club).  So then we need a committee to decide which providers get to be a "doctor".  Most people are good with calling people with a DDS, DMD, OD, DPT, DVM, DPM or DCM a "doctor".  This is not saying that any of these people are physicians and doesn't seem to take away from physicians.  Some areas call DPT or PharmD or DNPs doctors, some states have passed legislation saying they may not.  Not a debate I even care about.

I think you have given some strong arguments (right or wrong it is how you feel) for why you would like to be a PA.  This is probably worth pursuing.  You might think about the RN to PA route as it gives the option of well paying work while in school.

Edited by Matthew RN
Spelling/grammar correction

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