Any value to paramedic school prior to nursing school in my situation

  1. A quick background on me - Been a police officer for 7 years. I have a BS in Business Management/Accounting. I looked into leaving law enforcement (LE) to get into healthcare. I got my EMT Basic license and worked as a Patient Care Tech on a med/surg/tele floor and as an EMT on a 911 basic life support ambulance. I did that for about 6 months while working in LE and doing prerequisites for healthcare.

    I was looking into PA, ELMSN, or ABSN programs. I was working 2 jobs at a time and doing prereqs. My wife and I started getting worried about me not being able to work for several years during these programs - we decided living in Southern California would be too rough to go from making good money to no money for several years, and she wasn't willing to move at the time. So I stopped my medical endeavors and went back to focusing on law enforcement.

    Since then, I still consider leaving LE and entering healthcare. My wife is an RN/BSN and is almost finished with her MSN. After more thought, consideration, and research, I think pursuing my RN and working in the ER would be a good fit for me.

    My only two remaining prerequisites would be microbiology and physiology. Due to owning a home, living in expensive Southern California, and having bills, I can't stop working. I know working full time and going to nursing school full time will be rough, but I worked over full time and was taking 15-17 units for 6 months and maintained a 4.0 (this included science classes with labs, such as general/organic/biochemistry and anatomy). That being said, I'm pretty sure I could manage an ADN program with work, but an ABSN or ELMSN program is probably too much while working full time (3x12 hour night shifts).

    So basically I'm considering getting my paramedic prior to RN for a couple reasons:
    • Paramedic clinical exposure and experience will allow me to further evaluate leaving LE for healthcare, without having to quit my LE job
    • Would allow my wife to finish her MSN before I pursue nursing school
    • Working for a year or so as a part time medic will provide me with additional experience which may help me obtain an ER spot in a competitive nursing job market upon graduating of nursing school
    • If I decided not to enter nursing, the paramedic skills will still help me in my LE career, as I frequently assist the fire dept. with medical calls
    • I could also work per diem as a medic if I still have a medical itch but don't/can't leave LE to pursue nursing

    My plan would be to start medic school (1.5 years), then work part time/per diem as a medic for 1 year while finishing the other two prereq courses. I could then look at doing a medic to RN bridge (likely in the Phoenix area due to these not being available in CA), or, simply apply to an ADN program in Southern California. If I get put on a wait list (which I still think most programs in CA are on), I'll keep working in LE and as a part time medic to accumulate experience.

    Do you think this is a good plan? Or should I just forget medic school and try straight for nursing school? Thoughts and opinions are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Visit SurfCA40 profile page

    About SurfCA40, EMT-B Pro

    Joined: Dec '15; Posts: 162; Likes: 106


  3. by   SouthpawRN
    I would look at accelerated BSN programs as they will take the same time as an ADN. 16-18 month usually. Most students that get into a nursing program have zero experience. So you are ahead of the game there. Paramedic pay sucks in CA unless you are on a fire department. I don't think it will benefit you much at all with the experience you already have. When you get 1 or 2 semesters into your program, you can apply for a nurse apprentice position with a hospital (usually associated with your program) That is a year of paid learning. These hospitals like to hire from their apprentice pool (so I am told). usually there are only a few spots available on each department/floor each year, so it is competitive. But with your experience and background I don't think you will have an issue. Just know that CA does not like to hire new grads for any acute care. Often you will have to move and get a couple years experience elsewhere first or start in a less desirable position.
    Feel free to message me if you have more questions
  4. by   SurfCA40
    Hey Southpaw, thanks for your insight! I was little worried that an ABSN program would be too much to tackle while still working 3x12 hour shifts a week at the PD, what do you think? Is an ABSN program more work than a regular ADN program? I was hoping to keep working in LE until I could get a full time RN job, as taking a huge pay cut (similar to what I was making as a PCT on med/surg/tele) is not sustainable in SoCal and I would have to sell my house.

    How about the job market in the Phoenix area? Any better than SoCal for new grads? I'd be willing to sell my house to move to Nevada or Arizona; however, I wouldn't really be willing to sell my house to keep living in CA or move to a state other than NV or AZ.
    Last edit by SurfCA40 on Jun 19, '17
  5. by   Guy in Babyland
    I worked two 12 hr night shifts (Friday and Sat.) throughout my ABSN and had no problems juggling both.
  6. by   SurfCA40
    I think I'm going to finish my last two prerequisite courses this fall (physio and micro),which is basically 4 days per week and that'll make me eligible to apply to some of the ABSN programs in the area and go that route.
  7. by   kkbb
    Quote from surfca40
    How about the job market in the Phoenix area? Any better than SoCal for new grads? I'd be willing to sell my house to move to Nevada or Arizona; however, I wouldn't really be willing to sell my house to keep living in CA or move to a state other than NV or AZ.
    I am in metro Phoenix area and interviewed for a job in April (a few weeks before graduation) and accepted the job offer about a week after I graduated. Of the people in my cohort that have passed the NCLEX, most already have jobs lined up (some even in ICU and ED). Depending on the area I know that hiring increases in the fall due to the increase in winter snowbirds.
  8. by   CenterCourtRN
    You would be perfect for WGU's prelicensure BSN program. The program is only offered in Southern California, Indiana, Utah, and Florida. I am not in CA, but I've met people from this forum who are and the program structure is the same. Basically, you do your theory classes online, take your proctored exams at a local college/testing center, labs are in-person and do clinicals at a local hospital. So each cohort is affiliated with a hospital where you do majority of your clinicals, like I know in CA one of the hospitals is Cedar Sinai (one of the top hospitals in the country). CA is the most competitive state for the program, but with your stats I think you have a GREAT shot.

    EVERYONE in my cohort works full-time and some are LVN's and PCTs. The only time they ask you to take a leave of absence is the last 3 months of the program because you do your practicum (basically working as a nurse full-time). The tuition is about $4,500 per semester and the text books are provided. The program is really tailored to working adults and you get a BSN when you graduate. Also it is non-profit and CCNE accredited which you want in any nursing program. Without this program, I honestly could not be a nurse because like you I need/needed to work full-time.

    Here is more info regarding the program: Page Not Found | Western Governors University

    Here is the link to the schools section of AllNurses there's a lot of great info!:
    Last edit by CenterCourtRN on Jun 20, '17
  9. by   SurfCA40
    Thank you very much, I've heard the name but never looked into the program. I'll check it out.
  10. by   FolksBtrippin
    I just graduated from an absn program. I think you can work 3 12s and do the absn program. In my cohort we had a full time lpn, a few full time techs and lots of techs who worked 2 12s.

    If you want to be a nurse, I think you should skip paramedic school. It's a different way of thinking. I don't think it will compliment your nursing education very well, except that you would be kick ass at ekgs.