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Paramedic or Nurse route from EMT

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I work as a CNA but I do like being an EMT better. It just gives me more oppotunity to think and help instead of walking on the hospital floor all night. So on that note, I would rather be a Paramedic than a nurse. Nurses still have to take orders from MDs. as far as PA goes, I think that is something I had looked into but I may still like being on the street over being at the dr's office.

I think you need to decide what you want to do. You've identified at least 3 careers (RN, EMT-P, PA), which require substantial education, and have very different working conditons, educational routes, and pay.

You also need to consider very carefully any advice you receive about "Just do the RN, then bridge to EMT-P" in the context of where you want to work. In some places, moving from being an RN to a paramedic might be a 2-3 year process, with perhaps the only prior credit being for an A&P course. In other places, it might be a case of taking ACLS, finding a job with a transport company and sending a couple of hundred dollars for a prehospital RN licence.

Think about the educational time. Many RN programs are a four-year Bachelor's degree. For PA, you could be looking at anything from 2-5 years depending on the program. There may be varying degrees of advanced credit given for each. Your BScN or paramedic diploma / degree may only count for so much of the pre-req.

With the number of years training you're looking at, might it not be better to consider doing an MD?

Being a paramedic can be extremely rewarding. It can also be very stressful. There's a lot of back injuries, little lateral movement, and few opportunities in most systems to do anything that isn't shift-work and direct patient care. The RN has a lot more options for lateral movement, also has further educational options, e.g. Nurse-anesthesia, NP, etc. It typically pays better, and often has more flexibility regarding shift work, and is usually much more portable when it comes to moving location.

Don't be seduced by the scope of practice in EMS. It's not there because paramedics are inherrently better educated than other fields, just because there is no higher level of care readily available, and it's perceived that the risk of acting is outweighed by the risk of not acting (whether this is actually always the case is another discussion). Sure, you have some independence, but your treatment options are limited by what's placed on the ambulance, and you're often restricted in when you're allowed to exercise your judgement. An RN may have less "autonomy", but often they're also responsible for a large number of patients, some of whom are incredibly sick, often get to use a lot of technology, and have huge responsibility (a fact that many medics miss).

It's also worth considering that what you want to do now, and what you want from a career, may be very different in 10, 15. 20 years. Running around lifting people on stretchers, doing night shifts,and being in a stressful environment might not be what you want anymore when you're 55. Or have a family and kids. It's not that you can't educate yourself further, or move on to other things, but this becomes much harder to do when you have more financial responsibilities.

All the best.

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I agree with "figure out what you really want to do and then pick it" to a degree.

I'm an EMT. Was an EMT long before becoming a CNA. Worked as a personal care provider for several years, started nursing school, tested for my CNA, and now work on a hospital floor that I really hope hires me as an RN when I graduate. I'm still planning to get my paramedic.

My EMT experience has made nursing school harder and easier. Easier, in that the patient care aspect was not so scary, harder, in that I wanted to do things in ways that were foreign to my instructors. Plus having a knowledge base really pissed some of them off. *Sighs*

I want to get my paramedic so I can work prehospital; however, I love that the RN degree will allow me to work in so many varied care areas. One floor is not like another- each has its own challenges and requires different things of the provider's brain. The advantage of hospital based medicine is you get to see more resolution, more progress, what happens "after you hit the doors" so to speak.

Stabilization and transport, while fast paced (sometimes) and exciting (sometimes) only hold so much interest... the "rest of the story" is pretty darn important IMHO. So why do I still want to get mine? EMS still has my heart. I love the setting, and all the different presentations you get exposed to...

Also, it's going to be a lot easier to take maternity leave (eventually, not pregnant yet, nobody get excited OK?) as an RN than it would be as a paramedic. Just something to consider if you haven't had your own tiny hoomans yet.

So where am I going with this? None of us can answer for you which route you should take. Lord knows mine was circuitous enough... you really do need to pick one, evaluate how it fits into your life goals, and then go for it. If you discover, enroute, that it isn't what you really want, then change.

Best of luck to you!



RN-ADN Student

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As stated by most people, become a nurse 1st, than goto Paramedic. I am a Nurse, and an Emt. I also worked as a PCA, which is very similar to a CNA. Both being an emt and a pca helped me tramendously during nursing school.

I have also heard, but I DO NOT KNOW FOR A FACT, that NY State, allows you to "test out" of the Emt-cc. If you are an EMT, and a RN. There may be more to it, such as addt'l certs. (ALS,PHTLS,PALS etc.) If anybody knows any info on it, feel free to reply.

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