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Paramedic vs RN to become a Flight Paramedic/nurse.

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Paramedic vs RN to become a Flight Paramedic/nurse.

I'm currently an EMT-B in the state of Maryland and a nursing student. I hope to aspire to become a flight nurse/ paramedic on the medevac. I want to know the best course of action in order to work on the medevac. I know that an RN here can challenge the paramedic exam, but would it be better for me to just get the paramedic certificate now instead of doing the nursing program. I also want to know about how many years as a paramedic/ ER nurse most people spend before they actually become a flight nurse/ paramedic. I'm just wondering what to do with my future and if one route would be more beneficial than the other. Thanks for your input.

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Hey there,

Glad to see I'm not the only one having that issue. I can say this, I have my RN degree back home and currently still work as a casual nurse, but am currently doing my medic course. It's pretty easy, in fact I haven't reallty opened my text much. My suggestion to you, is to complete your RN program and then challenge your medic license. U should have no probklem. The only difference I've made note of is the trauma aspect which typically isn't discussed in nursing. It probably seems lengthy to spend four years at school, but you'll have way more career options open to you, including Critical Care Transport teams and all that good stuff. Back home, I can't challenge the medic exam which is just stupid, but I can kinda see their point. In New Brunswick our flight nurses and medics are paid the same and it's quite a bit less then hospital nurses. So depending where you live it's probably different. Check out the differences in the scope of practices of both fields and use that as part of your decision as well. Typically nurses have slightly different skills on an air service, then medics. It's not bad but that might help too. As far as education, typically they like our nurses to have at least 5 years work experience in either ER or ICU areas before accpeting them to air care.

Hope this helps,

Amy

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I will say up front, my advice has limited experience as a flight medic. But around here you need four-five years with your medic/RN working before you can even have a chance. I recommend if you can afford it to finish both schools. The knowledge you gain in each is highly important. While after 5 years working EMS as a paramedic you will have honed skills, if you challenge it as an RN you may very well pass, but will pose some risk to patients who will have an emergency medicine inexperienced paramedic (although I do not know how long you have been a basic). On that note you can also become a paramedic and apply that credit to nursing school (it is a 2 year paramedic to RN transition through distance learning). But I recommend getting your RN before and challenging it as the best course if you wish to save money.

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I don't suppose mentioning that helicopters are cramped, noisy, and once the thrill of flying wears off aeromedicine really sucks would change your mind, would it?

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I rode a few choppers as 3rd on... SUCKED now I fly a cessna for fun, Nothing like a stall practice to get that thrill out :-)

Good point there my friend

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The thrill of flying seldom leaves. However, the thrill of taking care of patients in such an environment fades very quickly.

Keep this in mind. No matter the route you decide, you will need three to five years experience in your chosen field (paramedic or RN) before you'll even get looked at for the job. That's three to five years of intense 911 or CC/ICU experience. Even then, you will face stiff competition for a position that may or may not open up. Since, for some reason, everybody and their brother wants to be a flight whatever, there will be potentially hundreds of applications for one opening. Then, if you happen to get hired, be prepared for really crappy pay. Since there are so many people out there who want your job they can afford to play the supply and demand game.

Go with nursing first. Then, if you're interested, obtain a paramedic license in MD. This will provide you with the greatest flexibility and income potential than if you went the other way around.

If, for some reason, you decide to be bull headed and pursue it anyway, try to arrange a ride along. MSP can do that for you. I'm sure STAT or Univ of MD can do that, too. But I'm telling you, if you really want to fly that badly, finish your RN and go take flying lessons. Not only will you be flying much sooner, but you won't have to worry about becoming another statistic in the increasingly dangerous world of air medical transport.

I don't mean to sound discouraging. Really, I don't. However, so many people get a glint in their eye and thump their chest and say, "I want to be a flight..." when I grow up. It's pretty cliche. And, please don't take this the wrong way, it's pretty ignorant, too. It's not what people think it is. It's not as glamourous as you might think. It's loud. It's noisy. It's cramped. It's hot as hell in the summer. It's cold in the winter. You don't really get to do nearly as much as you might think in terms of providing care. Does it have it's moments? You bet! However, is it worth the low pay, stress induced by noise, vibrations, maintainance issues, threat of break down, increasing threat of a crash (think about it, MSP, STAT and MedSTAR have all had fatal crashes. UMD is too new to have had one...but give it time) hearing loss etc...?

Ask a lot of questions. Don't be surprised if you don't get the answers you want to hear. Don't argue with those answers either.

Just food for thought. Good luck.

-be safe

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I used to teach flight nurses and paramedics after being a chief flight nurse. Most flight services have one protocol for both license, but the reason they are there is for the past expertise. The paramedic for scene flights and traumas as well out of hospital care and the ability to manage the airway. The nurse should have plenty of ER and ICU/CCU experience. Even neonate would be an added plus. Inner facility transports is part of many air services.

Flight services are very competitive and as well, as cut throat business. I will admit it is very difficult to be able get into the business. If I was advising new people, I would obtain my RN, then obtain at least 2-3 yrs. in a progressive ICU, and then about a year in a ER/trauma center. Meanwhile one could attend an accredited Paramedic program, I will forewarn you though emergency and critical care is not taught enough in nursing to make one competent for flight nursing. That is why being progressive is important as well going to an well developed paramedic program.

Although, I love flying, it is way over dramatized and what most do not realize there is very little difference in care, in fact may not be as aggressive.. the mode of transportation is the only thing changed. Air safety is imperative at all times, and with ambient noise and very small, cramped quarters, one must be able to deal with claustrophobia and as well as many have limitations on body weight and height as well.

I know many flight crews that actually make less than ground and in hospital pay. So pay may very in different areas.

R/r 911

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Thanks, Rid, for reminding of me of something I omitted above.

While you might be able to challenge the paramedic exam as an RN, I wouldn't recommend it. Please seriously consider taking a bona fide paramedic course. As an RN there will be many things that will be easy for you. Having had an EMT background, there will be other things that will be easy for you. However, there are differences between RN and paramedic that you don't get in nursing school and that you won't get from having been a basic. While there are similarities between the job of RN and paramedic, the differences are enough that you would be much better off completing a full paramedic course.

This will be easier to do if you become an RN first. Scheduling and pay will make it easier to go to school.

There are several accredited programs in Maryland. In the long run, it will be well worth your while to go that route.

Again, good luck.

-be safe

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Thanks a lot guys. You have given me a lot to think about. For now I must say that I don't think pay will be an issue, but then who doesn't think that when they're young? I appreciate all your input and I thank you once again for taking the time to help me out.

God Bless

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Why dont you give the military a try if you are so eager to fly? There may be opportunities there for you. You may even gain valuable experience that would make you competitive with other glory hogs trying to get a flight job in a civilian service.

Somedic

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