Paramedic school vs Nursing school

chaz90

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I cannot fathom why every single time this question comes up in these forums we immediately shoot down the potential EMS career aspirations of anyone who asks. There's eating your young, and then there's eliminating your future generation while they are still fetuses and ensuring you are the last of a breed at the brink of extinction.

Realism is great as is looking at both careers with an open mind, but are we really all so disillusioned that we can't even recommend a two year educational commitment for someone who is potentially interested?

Everyone has their own opinions reflective of their life, their area, and their job. There are benefits and of course cons to either path. Overall, I agree that nursing certainly gives more career flexibility and better long term job prospects, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing a career in EMS.

Locally, I earn the same per hour as my RN roommate who works at a local hospital. I have a better schedule, better benefits, better job security, educational assistance, a more defined path for advancement, and a fully funded non contributory pension. Additionally, I get way more vacation, and only have to use 48 hours of paid vacation to get 12 days off in a row. I also think my time at work is much more enjoyable, at least from my perspective. I have a lot of autonomy to do what I want, work in a station, run only ALS 911 calls, and often sleep for the majority of my night shifts, none of which is possible as an RN working in a hospital. For a bit of perspective, we currently have 4 active RNs who are choosing to work at or department as a paramedic instead of getting a nursing job. To be fair, we also have several former medics who have left to work as RNs.

I understand that modern nursing is a very fulfilling career and there are certainly many components of advanced practice nursing and non standard jobs that are very appealing to me. I would wither and die as a floor nurse though. There's a lot to be said for "just get through the hoops of nursing school" and then following those opportunities, but I don't regret going through paramedic school for a moment. Happiness matters, and for me, paramedicine is what I want to do at this stage of my life.
 

Qulevrius

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Locally, I earn the same per hour as my RN roommate who works at a local hospital. I have a better schedule, better benefits, better job security, educational assistance, a more defined path for advancement, and a fully funded non contributory pension. Additionally, I get way more vacation, and only have to use 48 hours of paid vacation to get 12 days off in a row. I also think my time at work is much more enjoyable, at least from my perspective. I have a lot of autonomy to do what I want, work in a station, run only ALS 911 calls, and often sleep for the majority of my night shifts, none of which is possible as an RN working in a hospital. For a bit of perspective, we currently have 4 active RNs who are choosing to work at or department as a paramedic instead of getting a nursing job. To be fair, we also have several former medics who have left to work as RNs.
As much as I agree with you that EMS is not such a bad thing to do for a living, I think people are trying to give a general advice that will shoot for most, as opposed to your specific setting. Granted and I haven't seen a whole lot of EMS outside of my immediate surroundings (namely LACo & Ventura Co), what you describe will absolutely not fly anywhere around here. And I suspect that it won't fly in a whole lot of other places, too.

I would wither and die as a floor nurse though.
Couldn't agree more. But for the places I've been around and know about, it's being miserable as RN/ER Tech with decent wages, or a happy medic/EMT with miserable pay. And the latter will eventually turn a happy medic/EMT into a depressed burnout, unless the said person gets up and leaves for greener pastures. So in my opinion, a better advice would be one that addresses a specific state/county vs a general 'do this/don't do that'.
 

STXmedic

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Chaz, don't forget that your system is a stellar system that is very rare to find and just as hard to get into. 99% of EMS systems are nothing like where you work. I also get paid very well and have stellar benefits. But regionally (and for the most part the whole state), if you don't work for my system, you start at 15/hr and if you stay for that same system for 10+ years, you might make it to 23/hr. Benefits are crap. Vacation is crap. On the flip side, every hospital here (we have 19 in town) starts their nurses between $25-$45, and most with pretty decent benefits.

As I said, I love being a paramedic. I lucked out ending up where I am, but I'm not blind to the fact that it's average at best, but often straight up sucks elsewhere else. I see where you're coming from; EMS can't keep running good people off. But until the system changes, I can't in good conscience push someone away from what is in almost every instance a smarter long-term move to come see how they like EMS- where if you're willing to move all over the country, there's a small chance in scoring one of the few stellar jobs. And while it's only two-ish years education, it will likely be considerably longer to make the switch while they realize it's not all sunshine and rainbows, then manage to find a way to go back to school part time, while being an adult happens with bills and kids and everything else. If you have both options on the table early, it would be stupid in my opinion to pick the lesser of the two options just to "check it out".

*If this was hard to follow, I apologize. It was written in haste.*
 
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OP
beaucait

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But regionally (and for the most part the whole state), if you don't work for my system, you start at 15/hr and if you stay for that same system for 10+ years, you might make it to 23/hr. Benefits are crap. Vacation is crap. On the flip side, every hospital here (we have 19 in town) starts their nurses between $25-$45, and most with pretty decent benefits.
In my state, starting as a paramedic you make 15$ an hour. As an EMT I'm not sure how much you start making. I can tell you though, I am taking a decrease in pay to get a job as an EMT because it definitely makes me way happier. I have never been happier then the two times I went on the truck. Laughs and good times every second. I would pass up nursing school to have a job like that all the time.
 

COmedic17

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I have never been happier then the two times I went on the truck. Laughs and good times every second. I would pass up nursing school to have a job like that all the time.
Maybe it was like that those two times. But it's not "laughs and good times every second" all the time, as you stated. There is a much darker side to it as well.
 

Chewy20

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In my state, starting as a paramedic you make 15$ an hour. As an EMT I'm not sure how much you start making. I can tell you though, I am taking a decrease in pay to get a job as an EMT because it definitely makes me way happier. I have never been happier then the two times I went on the truck. Laughs and good times every second. I would pass up nursing school to have a job like that all the time.
You cannot base a career off of two rideouts you have done. Glad you liked it, but be realistic.
 

Qulevrius

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In my state, starting as a paramedic you make 15$ an hour. As an EMT I'm not sure how much you start making. I can tell you though, I am taking a decrease in pay to get a job as an EMT because it definitely makes me way happier. I have never been happier then the two times I went on the truck. Laughs and good times every second. I would pass up nursing school to have a job like that all the time.
If they start medics off $15/hr then the EMTs will start @ $11/hr or lower. And, as others pointed out, you'll stop being starry eyed about EMS once you actually start working.
 

nightmoves123

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It is easier to go from RN to Paramedic in terms of education... Im sure you are aware how difficult it is to get into nursing school. Do your nursing, and if you still have a passion for EMS then you can chop and change between the two.

Most 'service' jobs are 90% boredom and 10% action. If you're lucky anyways. Good luck
 
OP
beaucait

beaucait

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I know I have to be realistic about it. I really enjoyed helping patients, that's the 'good times' I meant. I know there will be alot of situations that make the job seem unfavorable, but it is what you make of it in the end. Am I right?
 

Chewy20

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I know I have to be realistic about it. I really enjoyed helping patients, that's the 'good times' I meant. I know there will be alot of situations that make the job seem unfavorable, but it is what you make of it in the end. Am I right?
Yeah until you can't afford to take a vacation or pay your bills lol. If you're willing to move to different parts of the country there are some gigs you can EMS a career and have some room for advancement. That is the minority, and that's the point people are trying to make. With nursing you can move anywhere in the country and know that you can make a living.

At the end of the day, it's a job. And it needs to be able to put food on the table and keep the family happy.
 

gotbeerz001

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I know I have to be realistic about it. I really enjoyed helping patients, that's the 'good times' I meant. I know there will be alot of situations that make the job seem unfavorable, but it is what you make of it in the end. Am I right?
No. Not really.
You will find that at private companies, management often seems to work against all your best efforts to provide care due to concerns over profitability; any attempt to push back can jeopardize your ability to move forward.

Most people get to a point where their ability to have a good day is because they have a good partner and have decided that they cannot "fix" the system but rather must just embrace the suck and try to find a few nuggets of positivity to keep going.... Or commit suicide because of their life choices. #projectgreen

Sound fun?

While I hear that nursing is not all roses, the end product is much more tenable and financially beneficial for those in it.
 

STXmedic

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Does nursing not help people too?...
 

Remi

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You don't hear much about the downsides of nursing. Bedside nursing is actually a really tough job. In fact, every nursing job I've had was generally much harder work than my EMS jobs.

Pay for RN's is still decent (considerably better than for paramedics) in most places, but it definitely isn't as good as it used to be, and benefits and general working conditions seem to be on the decline, at least from what I've seen. The trends are definitely not favorable.

The only area where nursing clearly blows away EMS without question is opportunities to do different things. That's important to some people (it was to me), but to many it isn't.

Overall, it looks to me like the gap between the two is closing. If you can find a good paying job as a paramedic (they are out there, as chaz90 and STXmedic can attest) and you are pretty confident that it's what you want to do for good, then I don't think nursing is necessarily better.
 

NomadicMedic

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I cannot fathom why every single time this question comes up in these forums we immediately shoot down the potential EMS career aspirations of anyone who asks. There's eating your young, and then there's eliminating your future generation while they are still fetuses and ensuring you are the last of a breed at the brink of extinction.

Realism is great as is looking at both careers with an open mind, but are we really all so disillusioned that we can't even recommend a two year educational commitment for someone who is potentially interested?

Everyone has their own opinions reflective of their life, their area, and their job. There are benefits and of course cons to either path. Overall, I agree that nursing certainly gives more career flexibility and better long term job prospects, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing a career in EMS.

Locally, I earn the same per hour as my RN roommate who works at a local hospital. I have a better schedule, better benefits, better job security, educational assistance, a more defined path for advancement, and a fully funded non contributory pension. Additionally, I get way more vacation, and only have to use 48 hours of paid vacation to get 12 days off in a row. I also think my time at work is much more enjoyable, at least from my perspective. I have a lot of autonomy to do what I want, work in a station, run only ALS 911 calls, and often sleep for the majority of my night shifts, none of which is possible as an RN working in a hospital. For a bit of perspective, we currently have 4 active RNs who are choosing to work at or department as a paramedic instead of getting a nursing job. To be fair, we also have several former medics who have left to work as RNs.

I understand that modern nursing is a very fulfilling career and there are certainly many components of advanced practice nursing and non standard jobs that are very appealing to me. I would wither and die as a floor nurse though. There's a lot to be said for "just get through the hoops of nursing school" and then following those opportunities, but I don't regret going through paramedic school for a moment. Happiness matters, and for me, paramedicine is what I want to do at this stage of my life.
Slow clap.
 

Akulahawk

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It is easier to go from RN to Paramedic in terms of education... Im sure you are aware how difficult it is to get into nursing school. Do your nursing, and if you still have a passion for EMS then you can chop and change between the two.

Most 'service' jobs are 90% boredom and 10% action. If you're lucky anyways. Good luck
It's very much easier to go from RN to Paramedic than vice versa, primarily due to the prerequisites necessary for entry to Nursing School vs Paramedic School. Quite honestly, if you did all the typical RN prerequisites and then did P school, you'd find that P school really isn't all that hard. You'll know the deeper "why" behind the things we do instead of a relatively basic "why." That, combined with your knowledge of things Paramedic, will usually make it much easier to apply what you know to real-world patients.

I went through P school through an odd route. I earned my Bachelors in Sports Med first, became an EMT and then went to Paramedic School. By the time I was done, I only truly learned a few new things as much of the rest was already known at a much more in-depth level. It's fair to say that I rarely cracked the book for P school. Nursing school was far more involved. That being said, since I'd already had a very in-depth education, I found RN school to be reasonably easy and I passed the NCLEX the first time, minimum questions to pass.

I'm not saying you should go the way I did, OP, but consider that patient assessment is patient assessment, regardless of where you learned it. One of the more difficult things for RNs to do is transition to an "I'm it" mentality and learn the typical protocols that we learn in P school. Once they "get it" the nurses that go medic do just fine. My goal wasn't to become an RN. That evolved over time. Had I wanted to be both a Paramedic and an RN from the outset, I would have gone RN first and then challenged the P exam. I was unmarried at the time as well, so I probably would have looked for an RN job for the $$$ part of it and then also a PRN Paramedic job to complement things.

One minor bit of caution: earn your BSN soon, if you're going RN. This is because the job market for nurses is still heavily in the employer's favor. The BSN will usually get you a look by a hiring manager long before you get looked at if all you have is an ADN. Once that pendulum swings back to the Nurse's favor, it won't matter as much, but you'll still have more opportunities compared to most ADN grads.

Don't think of doing RN and then P as a lesser way to do it, think of it as more of a cheaper way to reach your goal of earning both.
 

Run with scissors

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Every one is saying to go RN, but people are having a hard time getting jobs after RN school. A friend of mine just graduated RN school and her and 3 friends have applied to every local hospital. No one will even touch them without a BSN. She just got accepted into a residency program for nurses 250 miles away at OU Medical (in another state).

My cousin is a medic in oklahoma city for amr. And makes 50k/year. While my friend works at OU in Oklahoma city now making 47k/year doing the residency program.

If you ask me. Your safer with the paramedic route. At least you know there will always be a job for you.
 

Akulahawk

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Every one is saying to go RN, but people are having a hard time getting jobs after RN school. A friend of mine just graduated RN school and her and 3 friends have applied to every local hospital. No one will even touch them without a BSN. She just got accepted into a residency program for nurses 250 miles away at OU Medical (in another state).

My cousin is a medic in oklahoma city for amr. And makes 50k/year. While my friend works at OU in Oklahoma city now making 47k/year doing the residency program.

If you ask me. Your safer with the paramedic route. At least you know there will always be a job for you.
Nursing job availability is cyclical. I've seen a couple cycles of this. As a Paramedic while there may be relatively easy job prospects, your pay may not be all that great. Around my area, only the FD medics approach my pay as an RN. The "private" folks earn about 1/2 of my hourly wage at best. Still, having a job beats no job. All of my classmates found jobs (and we're all ADN grads) within a year of graduation. I wanted to be an ED RN so it took me a little longer than most. About 1/2 of my classmates had jobs well within 6 months of graduation, if not sooner. You just might have to be willing to "settle" for whatever you can find OR travel a bit to get the specialty of your choice. I'm an ED RN and (only one of a couple from my class) and I had to go 2 hours away to find that job. I'm now rapidly approaching the point where I should be fairly competitive for ED jobs closer to home...

My "full" recommendation for going both RN and Paramedic is to do Nursing School, take an EMT course between the Spring and Fall Semesters at school and when you're done with RN school, find a Paramedic School that will do the transition course and arrange for you to do your field time. Then you can get licensed as a Paramedic also and you'll be free to pursue either job and that should be a LOT cheaper than going to Paramedic School and then through RN school... even if you did a Paramedic-RN transition course.

If I end up staying at my current job for a couple more years, I might just see about getting on one of the local FD's as a PRN Paramedic. Sure the pay will be lower but I'll be allowed to intubate again and do EJ IV sticks. ;)
 

Run with scissors

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Yeah, in my area. Amr starts off at 40k/year fresh outta medic school. With 2 years exp its 45k after 4 years its 48k then 50k after 5 years. Plus they give bonus pay for like hazmat and extra certs.

40k is big ballin where I live. Not much I wouldn't do for that type of money.
 

gotbeerz001

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Every one is saying to go RN, but people are having a hard time getting jobs after RN school. A friend of mine just graduated RN school and her and 3 friends have applied to every local hospital. No one will even touch them without a BSN. She just got accepted into a residency program for nurses 250 miles away at OU Medical (in another state).

My cousin is a medic in oklahoma city for amr. And makes 50k/year. While my friend works at OU in Oklahoma city now making 47k/year doing the residency program.

If you ask me. Your safer with the paramedic route. At least you know there will always be a job for you.
We all pretty much said to get a BSN.

Buddy of mine in SoCal graduated with his BSN 6 weeks ago and started a job yesterday.
 
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