Conflicted on which way to take my career

Sapaznak

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Hey y’all!
So, a little background info- I’m currently 21 and have been working in EMS since I was 19 ( in both IFT and 911.) So far, I’ve loved my job and everything that goes along with it; the good with the bad. That being said, I’m currebtly contemplating where I should take my career next. Part of my wants to go to medic school and get my P card. I’ve had several medic partners encourage me to go to paramedic school, and so far I’ve loved watching/ learning about/ assisting with ALS interventions in the field. The other side of me is saying to get a job as an ER Tech, and set my academic focus to nursing, or maybe PA school. I have several friends that work as techs and they absolutely love it. I definitely have quite a few factors playing into te ultimate decision of where I’ll go from here ( financial situation, living situation, etc.)
Anyways, I was wondering if I can get the opinion of some people that might be/ have been in the same situation as me, what they did, and what the outcome was? Also, if you could do anything over again, what would you do? Thank you! :)

And happy EMS week!!
 

E tank

Caution: Paralyzing Agent
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Stay where you are and get a bachelor's degree in something that will be attractive to a PA school, do really well and do it in four years. All the while you're vetting PA schools and shadowing PA's, making contacts and getting good advice.

My 0.02$
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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Find a year long paramedic school, and while you are in that program, complete the academic prereqs for PA school.

Your P card and experience as a medic (hundreds, if not thousands of patient care hours), combined with good grades, will put you ahead of many other applicants.
 

Summit

Critical Crazy
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Find a year long paramedic school, and while you are in that program, complete the academic prereqs for PA school.

Your P card and experience as a medic (hundreds, if not thousands of patient care hours), combined with good grades, will put you ahead of many other applicants.

Very few can finish PA prereqs (~2 years, at minimum, of science heavy courseload) in a year, much less while also completing a 1 year paramedic program, much less with good grades.
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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Very few can finish PA prereqs (~2 years, at minimum, of science heavy courseload) in a year, much less while also completing a 1 year paramedic program, much less with good grades.
Your right: I thought the OP said he already had a bachelors degree. I know when I was looking at PA school, I completed all the requirements in 8 months while working full time. Only class I didn't get a good grade in was Organic Chem. It helped that I had already completed some of the classes during undergrad.

Since you don't have a bachelors, find a year long paramedic school, and while you are in that program, enroll part time in a local community college where you can begin to complete the academic prereqs for PA school. Get your medic, and work part time (or full time, depending on what your course schedule is, online classes are great for shift work) while you go to school full time to complete your PA school prereqs, This is very doable.

Get an associates degree, and then immediately go for your bachelors (which is a requirement for most programs) while still working as a medic, and look at PA school.
 

nyislesfan42

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I would say it depends on what you want to do. As a paramedic you get more patient contacts where you are in-charge. you are practicing more interventions than you would as an ER Tech. This is all assuming you will be a paramedic in a 911 service. you would also gain valuable experience in pharmacology. If you go the ER Tech route you will become familiar with ER procedures. you will see things that you don’t see in the field (lumbar punctures, chest tubes...) you will also more than likely perform more IV sticks assuming you join a busy ER. I would suggest shadowing a PA that works in an area that interests you (ER, OR...). I worked IFT as an AEMT and now as a Tech in the second busiest ER in Houston and I love the ER much more. In our ER, the PAs and NPs are limited to triage and lower acuity patients so paramedics will actually see the sicker patients as well as the trauma patients. Choose what you feel would be more rewarding for you.

One question, why PA school as opposed to med school or nursing (NP)?
 

EpiEMS

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Stay where you are and get a bachelor's degree in something that will be attractive to a PA school, do really well and do it in four years. All the while you're vetting PA schools and shadowing PA's, making contacts and getting good advice.

My 0.02$

This is totally the way to go.

Don't bother with paramedic school if it is just an interim step and will delay your bachelors (& science prereqs, importantly), which, on top of your EMT experience, is what the PA school wants. (AEMT might be worth considering, because it is a lot less burdensome coursework.)
 

Carlos Danger

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Since you are undecided, then like the others have said, I’d go to paramedic school and at the same time start working towards a degree. You may decide that you love being a paramedic and make a career out of that, or you may decide to move on and do something else. Either way chances are good that you’ll be glad that you started working on a degree now.

As for ER tech......I mean, if you WANT to do it then sure. It might be good experience, or it might not. But I don’t see how it’d give you any advantage career wise.

Edit: there is at least one PA who is active on here, as well as several RN’s, two CRNA’s, an AA, and a couple physicians who occasionally poke their heads in. No NP’s that I know of, but myself and the other nurses are pretty knowledgeable about that career track.
 

nyislesfan42

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As for ER tech......I mean, if you WANT to do it then sure. It might be good experience, or it might not. But I don’t see how it’d give you any advantage career wise.

I can answer that a bit. As an ER Tech, you are dealing with multiple patients as you would as a PA. you learn to prioritize patient needs. As a paramedic, you are mainly dealing with one patient with a few exceptions. As an ER Tech, you will also work alongside a PA and truly see what their job is like. Will also make it easier to shadow them as they will know you after a few months of working in the ER. A recommendation from them will also be beneficial for applying to PA school.

I wouldnt suggest going to paramedic school at the same time as working on prereqs. you will want to do as well as possible on your prereqs as PA school is highly competitive.
 

Carlos Danger

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I can answer that a bit. As an ER Tech, you are dealing with multiple patients as you would as a PA. you learn to prioritize patient needs. As a paramedic, you are mainly dealing with one patient with a few exceptions. As an ER Tech, you will also work alongside a PA and truly see what their job is like. Will also make it easier to shadow them as they will know you after a few months of working in the ER. A recommendation from them will also be beneficial for applying to PA school.

I wouldnt suggest going to paramedic school at the same time as working on prereqs. you will want to do as well as possible on your prereqs as PA school is highly competitive.

I suppose it depends on where you work. Every place I’ve worked the ER techs had few if any clinical responsibilities and had limited contact with the PA’s/NP’s and physicians. Some drew blood, but mostly they just assisted the RN’s with menial tasks. Doesn’t mean the job can’t have value - you’ll definitely get exposure to things you won’t see or do prehospital - but I don’t think it has enough value to detour your career if there isn’t some other reason to do it, like if it offers better pay, or the hours work better around your school schedule, or if it is just something that you want to do. If that’s the case then sure, take the job and get whatever you can out of it.

As for pre-req’s, that’s very individual. It’s not for everyone, but many of us have done paramedic school and other college courses concurrently.
 
OP
Sapaznak

Sapaznak

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I would say it depends on what you want to do. As a paramedic you get more patient contacts where you are in-charge. you are practicing more interventions than you would as an ER Tech. This is all assuming you will be a paramedic in a 911 service. you would also gain valuable experience in pharmacology. If you go the ER Tech route you will become familiar with ER procedures. you will see things that you don’t see in the field (lumbar punctures, chest tubes...) you will also more than likely perform more IV sticks assuming you join a busy ER. I would suggest shadowing a PA that works in an area that interests you (ER, OR...). I worked IFT as an AEMT and now as a Tech in the second busiest ER in Houston and I love the ER much more. In our ER, the PAs and NPs are limited to triage and lower acuity patients so paramedics will actually see the sicker patients as well as the trauma patients. Choose what you feel would be more rewarding for you.

One question, why PA school as opposed to med school or nursing (NP)?
Nursing is definitely in the question too! As for med school, I’m not too sure if I have the attention span to spend that long in school haha
 
OP
Sapaznak

Sapaznak

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Thank you all for your words of wisdom! I’ll definitely take everything that’s been said into consideration
 

EpiEMS

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Thank you all for your words of wisdom! I’ll definitely take everything that’s been said into consideration

Think NPV, man. If you're indifferent between the options, just think NPV.

Re: PA school, paging @Brandon O
 

DrParasite

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As an ER Tech, you are dealing with multiple patients as you would as a PA. you learn to prioritize patient needs. As a paramedic, you are mainly dealing with one patient with a few exceptions. As an ER Tech, you will also work alongside a PA and truly see what their job is like. Will also make it easier to shadow them as they will know you after a few months of working in the ER. A recommendation from them will also be beneficial for applying to PA school.

I wouldnt suggest going to paramedic school at the same time as working on prereqs. you will want to do as well as possible on your prereqs as PA school is highly competitive.
Where is this? I have worked in three states, and have friends who are ER techs, and have never seen them do anything as you describe. ER techs are basicly the nurse's b****, and do a lot of the simple tasks so they don't have to. They also get worked ALOT, because they are assisting with multiple patients (the patient to tech ratio is usually higher than the patient to nurse ratio). They are typically low barriers to entry, low pay (compared to other clinical hospital jobs), and are used by people who want to gain healthcare exposure before moving onto other jobs. I can't think of many career ER techs, they usually have a career less than two years (but I'm sure it's not like that everywhere.

I've never seen an ER tech prioritize multiple patients (that is always left up to the nurse, or whomever is screaming loudest), you don't prioritize patient needs (other than simple stuff, anything complicated the nurse tells you what to do), and while they do work along side a PA, you aren't a peer; you are a coworker, like everyone else in the ER, such as the secretary/unit clerk, cleaning crew, hospital based EMS, nurse, etc. Yeah, they can show you some cool stuff, but it's not like you are working as an allied health professional (MD, NP, etc), or a nurse. Can you get a recommendation? sure, if they like you, but I don't think experience as an ER tech will set you apart from another candidate except if you were looking at nursing school.

Based on your age, I'm assuming you have never gone to college, or taking any college level courses. Before you decide on a career path, why not look into the academic prereqs (A&P with Lab 1 & 2 is common for nursing, Bio 1 & 2, Chem 1& 2, and Organic Chem 1 was common for PA, along with the basic math and english requirements), and see how well you do in the classes? Let that guide your career path based on how well you do in the classes, before you decide to focus on a career that you might not be able to (academically) get into a program of your choosing?
 
OP
Sapaznak

Sapaznak

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Where is this? I have worked in three states, and have friends who are ER techs, and have never seen them do anything as you describe. ER techs are basicly the nurse's b****, and do a lot of the simple tasks so they don't have to. They also get worked ALOT, because they are assisting with multiple patients (the patient to tech ratio is usually higher than the patient to nurse ratio). They are typically low barriers to entry, low pay (compared to other clinical hospital jobs), and are used by people who want to gain healthcare exposure before moving onto other jobs. I can't think of many career ER techs, they usually have a career less than two years (but I'm sure it's not like that everywhere.

I've never seen an ER tech prioritize multiple patients (that is always left up to the nurse, or whomever is screaming loudest), you don't prioritize patient needs (other than simple stuff, anything complicated the nurse tells you what to do), and while they do work along side a PA, you aren't a peer; you are a coworker, like everyone else in the ER, such as the secretary/unit clerk, cleaning crew, hospital based EMS, nurse, etc. Yeah, they can show you some cool stuff, but it's not like you are working as an allied health professional (MD, NP, etc), or a nurse. Can you get a recommendation? sure, if they like you, but I don't think experience as an ER tech will set you apart from another candidate except if you were looking at nursing school.

Based on your age, I'm assuming you have never gone to college, or taking any college level courses. Before you decide on a career path, why not look into the academic prereqs (A&P with Lab 1 & 2 is common for nursing, Bio 1 & 2, Chem 1& 2, and Organic Chem 1 was common for PA, along with the basic math and english requirements), and see how well you do in the classes? Let that guide your career path based on how well you do in the classes, before you decide to focus on a career that you might not be able to (academically) get into a program of your choosing?
I’m actually almost done with my AS at the community college where I took my EMT course, and plan on taking my medic academy if I so choose to do :) I’ve always had a stronger suite for sciences, so I think those classes shouldn’t be a problem haha
 

nyislesfan42

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You’ve never seen a tech do what? I didnt describe the tech doing any of the procedures, I said you will see them being done. As a tech, I am in the room while the doc is putting in a chest tube with his/her PA assisting. What i meant by prioritizing is when a nurse asks you to take a patient upstairs, another asks you to start an IV, and a third asks you to assist with cleaning a patient, you have to prioritize who you help first. In the field you are only caring for one patient.

What I was saying was that working in the ER you see how it is run and you can gain a greater understanding of what the PA does. Since working in the ER, Ive talked with the various PAs/NPs and believe if I asked to shadow one, they wouldnt have a problem.

The ER I work at pays me more than either IFT or Cypress Creek would have paid me by about $4/hr. Also, Im not intending to say being a tech would give you a leg up, Im merely saying that it gives you an opportunity to see what the various roles in a an ER do day in and day out so that you can make a better decision on what you want to do professionally. I do think being a tech gives you more flexibility regarding working and going to school.
 

Ewok Jerky

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PA lurker here:

If unsure of your career at a young age your short term goal should be something that will give you the most broad value down the road. And that is a bachelor's degree...in literally anything. Include science classes to cover prereqs for PA or nursing school. I would consider med school since you are still young. If you don't have the attention span for med school you might not make I PA school though. It shorter but not less intense.

I would make a plan to get your bachelors in the next 2-4 years a priority and make your job situation work around that. Anything with patient interaction can be jazzed up in an interview.
 

rescue1

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As far as medic vs basic, PA schools and med schools don't care about ALS vs BLS. Back in the day PA schools would care about time as a paramedic but these days you can get that "patient contact time" with being an ER scribe and having no realistic patient care exposure If you have professional ambulance experience that is different than every other pre-health college student's volunteer EMS experience (which is usually a couple years with a sleepy small town ambulance or a college EMS service) then they will be impressed. I think the doctor who interviewed me used the phrase "ambulance driver" in lecture once. As far as ED tech vs EMS, I don't think anyone will really care. You can always ask to shadow doctors or PAs to get letters of recommendation regardless of what field you're in.


I debated going to medic school before going to medical school, but I decided not to. Like I said above, it doesn't actually impact your chances of getting into school compared with working as a 911 basic, and it was $5k down the drain just to practice ALS for one year before shipping off back to school anyway. That being said, I have a friend in school who got his medic, then his RN, then his BSN, and now is in med school, so it's not like there's a wrong way to do it.


As far as prerequisite classes go, PA and medical school would have a decent amount of overlap. For either you need As and Bs in all your classes, but really mostly As. You can look up the prereqs online. If you have a way of getting your paramedic as part of a bachelors degree that included the science credits you'd need for PA/med school that could be an option you could look at, but the important thing to remember is that grades are king for these applications, and if you let work get in the way of getting As in chemistry/bio etc it can bite you in the ***. Also, unfortunately some schools get snobby about community college credits when it comes to the prerequisite science courses, so that's something to keep in mind too.

Finally, if you wanted to do nursing, I'd recommend applying to nursing school now and skipping paramedic school entirely. You can always challenge the state paramedic exam or take an accelerated course to go from RN-->medic, but its a pain to go the other way.
 

joshrunkle35

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Find a year long paramedic school, and while you are in that program, complete the academic prereqs for PA school.

Your P card and experience as a medic (hundreds, if not thousands of patient care hours), combined with good grades, will put you ahead of many other applicants.

I slightly disagree. I am an NP student and I have been a paramedic for about 5 years. I looked heavily into PA schools (spoke with PA’s, completed the pre-reqs, visited schools and spoke with several people from different admissions committees from different schools) before I decided to go the NP route.

ZERO people on any admissions committee that I talked to had any idea that there was any difference between an EMT and a Paramedic.

Being a paramedic for a while would certainly help you be a better practitioner in the future, but it is very expensive, would take you away from your studies for a year and most likely provide zero benefit over EMT experience when it comes to admissions to a PA program.

If you (the OP) are interested in PA, I recommend listening to the Pre-PA Club podcast.
 

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