Paramedic to RN transition, easy or hard?

  1. hello, everyone. i am a paramedic with 5 year experience on als ambulance, now moving towards my aas degree in nursing. i would like to get some input from other medics who became rns, or rns that had to work or train a medic who became rn. i love my job now, and i really loved my 500 hours of clinicals in all departments of the hospital, especially er of course! thats when i realized i want to become a nurse! now, my question is to you all, what was the hardest part in the transition process? to stop thinking like a paramedic and start doing like rn? was it introducing new skills like: foleys, g-tubes? or was it a total piece of cake? i am very motivated to move on to nursing, but what is the biggest obstacle that i will have to overcome...?
    thanks.
    silika.
  2. Visit OnaTrek profile page

    About OnaTrek, BSN, RN, EMT-P

    Joined: Apr '07; Posts: 58; Likes: 1

    22 Comments

  3. by   DoubleblessedRN
    It wasn't that difficult. I just took my last Excelsior exam and I will be attending a CPNE workshop next week. I also went to a traditional ADN program for a year, but withdrew for several reasons I won't mention right now. For me, the first semester was the most difficult, but still wasn't that hard. That was the most different from a paramedic. We learned wound care, diagnosing and careplans, caring for surgical drains, sterile dressing changes and foley insertions just to name a few. The exams can be difficult; it really tests your critical thinking and it is the rightest of the right. Subsequent semesters are mostly pharmacology, pathophysiology and their treatments. If you decide to attend traditional nursing school, I'll give you some good advice: Don't tell your instructors, especially your clinical instructors that you're a paramedic, because I almost guarantee he or she will hold you to a higher standard. Feel free to PM me if you want to talk more.
  4. by   OnaTrek
    Thanks Medic2ernurse2b, I am in process of enrolling to Excelsior College too! I guess we will see how are nursing skill really are when we put them to use in hospital setting. Good luck!
  5. by   snowfreeze
    I did quite fine going to a community college for RN while working as a paramedic. I have been a nurse for 15 years and a medic for 20. My youngest daughter just got her EMT so I will be going back to the field to run with her at a local volunteer friendly service with a junior program.
    The biggest difference is the medic saves the patient for the moment a nurse continues that care and then trys to teach the patient about how to deal with their medical issues for the rest of their life.
  6. by   OnaTrek
    Wow snowfreeze, I see what you mean! I can not wait. I realize school will not be easy, but I believe I have seen quite a lot in the ambulance and ER that will help me out a great deal. Plus, I think having support of techs, fellow RNs and MDs will be so helpful. I know everyone gets busy on the floor doing their own thing, but still I am not afraid to stop someone and ask questions if I have to. Compared to what I do now, I am usually alone in the back of ambulance working on critical patients, a phone for Medical Control orders, and an EMT driving me. And I still love my job!
  7. by   MrsWampthang
    Probably the hardest thing to cope with as a medic to RN nurse, was having to get a doctor's order to give drugs that I had a protocol to give in the field like nitro, or D50. Also not being able to jump to the head of a coded patient and intubate was tough. However, I went right into the ER after I graduated and it seemed to be an easier transistion for me than for others who had not had that critical care experience first. Otherwise, I love being a nurse versus being a medic; no more picking up drunks (or their victims) off the road in the middle of the night in the dead of winter.

    Pam
  8. by   OnaTrek
    hehehe pam! i hear you, i believe i can deal with taking md orders no problem. you are right about the the working conditions i am definitely not going to miss the snow/ice/traffic driving, 3 am drunken calls, :angryfire calls and so on. i probably would feel right at home if i chose er specialty, but what other specialty would you and everyone suggest for paramedic to rn person?
  9. by   DoubleblessedRN
    I want to work in the ER (obviously) but I have also thought about cardiac cath. I spent one day of a clinical rotation there (I also used to work the road with one of the technicians) and I really liked it. I also enjoyed my OR rotation.
  10. by   Medic/Nurse
    Easy.

    At least I thought it was.

    Did Excelsior. Took approx 6 months to complete the (now called Concepts 1 -7?) exams. Scheduled the CPNE - counting the CPNE wait - it took another 6 months to complete CPNE and get the rest of the paperwork done - in order to get the degree.

    So it CAN be done in a year.

    Now, for a little about my background. I came from a really strong degreed paramedic program - university based. So, I had ALL my other college requirements done when I started the EC program. The only thing I had to complete were the nursing portions.

    I DID NOT prep for the exams by using a publishing house. (Too much $$$ for limited benefit - IMHO) I used the EC published outlines and a general nursing text. I followed the exam content in the outline and used the chapter/section summaries in the nursing text. I did not obsess. Other than chapters on the endocrine system and patient safety I didn't read entire chapters. I had a strong clinical background.

    In my experience, most of the medics that have struggled with the EC program get "stuck" in the details. It can appears to be overwhelming and due to the nature of it - you are isolated. Support can be difficult to find. Bottom line. It is a test. Only 150 questions of Multiple Choice. Keep focused on THAT. Do you really think its going to be the obscure or the main principles? Perspective is EVERYTHING.

    Now the CPNE. I did a Chancellors review in Fishers IN 3 weeks before my CPNE. I also did an EC sponsored workshop the week before - I went, passed in straight assessments (skills lab and PCE's) and I was done. I did NOT mention that I was a paramedic to ANYONE!

    Now, I have known some medics to go to residence programs. Most that I know have encountered varying degrees of difficulty, boredom and frustration. NEVER mention that you are a paramedic. You may be "held to a higher standard" or you may be targeted (don't thump me - you know it happens!). KEY: Cooperate to Graduate!

    Anyway, don't get stuck before you get stuck!

    GOOD LUCK!



    PM if you have questions, I'd be glad to help if I can!

  11. by   OnaTrek
    HI NREMT-P/RN, good for you. Sounds like most medics are choosing the Excelsior route to becoming RNs. You are my heros! I want to be just like you when I grow up... hehe. My only problem: I still have to test out on 5 general ed courses, so I am debating if I should purchase some used guides from RUE, College Network, or Chancellors to get me prepared for tests, besides doing the paid pre-tests, EC published outlines, and all the other free info. Suggestions? :spin:
  12. by   pfitz1079
    I generally try to steer people away from the EC-type programs. Some states are refusing to license folks from them. Really a nursing program without clinicals is pointless. I've heard all the justifications about prior experience and just don't buy it.

    There are some budding bridge programs out there that show some promise. I think if a paramedic wants to become a nurse (or a nurse a paramedic) that person should attend a full training program. There's more to it than just the credits or the diploma.

    Pete Fitzpatrick
    RN, CFRN, EMT-P
  13. by   nj1grlcrus
    I am a nursing student, just finishing first year. The EMT's in my class are held to a higher standard. When I told one of them that I felt totally inadequate compared to him, he said it would have no impact on my clinical grade. And he did score just one tenth of a point higher than me on the mid-term clinical evaluation. As for not telling the instructor, its kind of hard to hide those skills, and you will react differently than non-medical people. You will do GREAT, good luck, Donna
  14. by   Miss Mab
    Also, I think you will find in many ER's--actually I thought all but what do I know---you will still work somewhat autonomously in regard to the meds you mentioned(D50, Nitro,Morphine) and certain skills, etc. without running to the doc first. There are protocols in place generally. Woe is you who doesn't push/give the med when clearly necessary. There's only a few MD's and a whole lotta patients. They aren't by your side all that often. Um, Dr, after i tracked you down for ten minutes running the corridor of rooms and bays, can I give my pt. w/ a CBS of 29 some D50? Huh-uh

    I don't have any negative things to say about paramedics wanting to transition to nursing. It is cool all of the "monkey skills" you get to do out there. I say that w/affection. My most recent "crossover" friend said it best to me. "I knew how to do a lot of things but I didn't always understand the whys of some of it. In general, yeah. But not in depth until after much, much more physio, patho and anatomy.

    Best of luck to ya!

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