Published Jun 28, 2009
Hey guys,I needed some advice on something; recently I've become an EMT-B and really enjoy the work and am looking to continue my education but I'm at a crossroads. I don't know if I should become a paramedic or a nurse. I would still like to do pre-hospital care in the field but don't know which would would be a better decision. Both programs are offered at a local community college by me and both are two years with an AS at the end of the program I'm just curious which one would be better ? If anyone has any insight I'd really appreciate it! Thanks a lot
Mike A. Fungin RN
The best thing you can do is observe paramedics and nurses at work, and see which feels like a better fit for you.
When I started out as an EMT-B I worked for an ambulance service that did both "911" response and critical care transport. So, I had opportunities to work with both paramedics and registered nurses and see both sides of the fence. Later, as a firefighter, I got exposed to flight nursing... and that's when I knew nursing was the way I wanted to go.
I think what most drew me to nursing was that it gave me more career options. There are a lot of nursing specialties to choose from, and you can change hospitals and/or specialties relatively easily. There are also more opportunities in nursing for additional education and advanced practice roles. Nursing's lucrative, and provides pretty good job security too.
The only things I miss about EMS that I don't think nursing offers as much of are autonomy and camaraderie.
Wow what a great response! Thanks I really appreciate the info and the insight.
No sweat, and good luck with whatever path you choose!
I would've truly loved to have been a paramedic, and I don't want to discourage you from that path at all. For me the problem was that as medic I wouldn't have a lot of options if I got burned out on it. How many of us really know where we'll end up or what we're going to want in ten years? I wanted a career that had the flexibility to bend with the changes life threw at me.
With a BSN degree and RN license I know that if I become a flight nurse and feel like moving on to something new five years later, I can!I could return to critical care in the hospital, change specialties, go back to school for a graduate degree (to work in management, education, or advanced practice), work in the community as a public health nurse, etc.
Hope this helps.
CrufflerJJ, BSN, RN, EMT-P
Hey guys,I needed some advice on something; recently I've become an EMT-B and really enjoy the work and am looking to continue my education but I'm at a crossroads. I don't know if I should become a paramedic or a nurse. I would still like to do pre-hospital care in the field but don't know which would would be a better decision. Both programs are offered at a local community college by me and both are two years with an AS at the end of the program I'm just curious which one would be better ? If anyone has any insight I'd really appreciate it! Thanks a lot-Dave
Congrats on your EMT-B certification! I hope that you use it a while & enjoy doing field EMS. I ran as an EMT for a couple years before going to paramedic school & running as a medic for 17+ years (in my "copious free time" away from my engineering job). I am about to start a new career as a RN, which will present its own set of challenges (& learning opportunities).
I guess I'd start with the usual blather about "follow your heart." Do what makes you happy. As Mike A. Fungin recommended - shadow a RN and shadow a medic to see how their jobs differ. You might choose to shadow an ER nurse for a closer comparison of field care vs ER care.
Pay is generally better for RN vs EMT-P, but that may also depend on whether you're employed as a medic by a private company or a city fire dept.
I agree that opportunities are generally better as a RN versus a paramedic. One other thing to consider....in many areas, it's possible to take a RN-->Paramedic "bridge" course. These take 1 or 2 quarters, and you'd end up with your EMT-P certification to add to your RN license. This may be handy if you still want to volunteer as a paramedic on your local fire dept, or want to do flight nursing (some flight programs require their RN's to also be EMT-P certified).
Thanks for all of the great responses and advice. After much personal deliberation I actually think I am going to go with an RN degree because it seems like it will fit me better and the overall options and benefits sound more suiting for my wants and needs. Thanks again for the great info!
Thanks for all of the great responses and advice. After much personal deliberation I actually think I am going to go with an RN degree because it seems like it will fit me better and the overall options and benefits sound more suiting for my wants and needs. Thanks again for the great info!-Dave
You went with RN. You should have gone with paramedic. Or not. Maybe... (yes, sarcasm intended)
Now there's just that small matter of getting your RN. Your EMT-B experience will definitely help you. Many of your future fellow nursing students have never touched/examined a patient before.
Check with your local state EMS "board" before doing anything. Some states will allow RNs to challenge the test, granting them a medic license.
I was in the same boat as you a year ago. I chose nursing, because of the vast number of careers I can lead. I can work practically anywhere, often at a higher pay rate than medics. Don't get me wrong, I love pre-hospital, but there's no forward mobility with medic programs.
Maybe you can try the nursing assistant thing, get a foot in the door, and rate the experience. If you like it, maybe your facility will pay you to complete your RN.
i have a question..
what are some of the things registered nurse enjoy about their job?
Agree with all of the above but wanted to point out that there are just a few states that have PHRN classifications so you will be limited in your ability to relocate. That being said get your RN and bridge to paramedic that way you will have maximum flexibility.
Right now, I am a first year student in a BSN nursing program and I will be starting a part time paramedic course while I am working on my prereqs for my BSN. The way I see it, if I become a paramedic, that will be a TON of experience for my nursing program, and it will give me a ton of hospital clinical hours before I start my nursing program. I will also be able to work for more and in a more pertinent job while I am in nursing school. I would like to specialize as a nurse in Emergency Medicine/Flight, and I figure with paramedic experience, I will be able to get in that area a lot faster. Now, I would prefer to be a paramedic and work pre-hospital, which I may do for awhile, but I just can't see myself doing it my entire life, and then I am stuck with a cert I can't do a ton with, as opposed to a nursing degree, which I can go from ER to Med-surg to clinic to ICU, etc if I burn out at one area.
So my advice to you, do both :)
Nursing has SOOOO many more opportunities....Done the medic thing and can certainly testify that it is NOT thing to do as your only source of income. Most medics that I know who have no other skills are miserable, over worked and under paid. The clinical experience is great, but that doesn't pay the bills. Whatever you do, know well ahead what kind of compensation you will be getting what ever professions you choose and develop multiple income streams so that you have the flexibility to choose where you want to spend your time.
Being stuck on an ambulance for $11.00 an hour can be like a prison sentence if that is the only skill set you have and money is an issue. However, if the money is NOT an issue and your pockets are already lined, then pre-hospital care guarantees a wide variety of experiences for you.
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