Thinking about being a Paramedic

Romans116

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Hello, I am a student and am beginning to consider being a paramedic. Up till now I have planned on going to med school to be an ER doctor. I do very well in school and have always been told to shoot high but to be honest I don’t really care about being a doctor, I just know I want to work in emergency medicine in some way. I’m also worried about the time demands of being a doctor, I can’t just decide to take a break I need to stick with it or I will fall way behind everyone else in my career, so being the parent I hope to be one day is out of the question.
So my main questions I would like to ask are
1. Is there such thing as being “too smart” to be a paramedic? I know this sounds arrogant and I don’t mean it that way, I’ve just been told repeatedly it is a waste of what I could do but I’m not too sure if there is any truth to that.
2. What sort of options could I have? Could I work part time if my lifestyle demands it? Could I work my way up to become a leader in some sense?
3. Is it common for paramedics to have some sort of side hustle? I plan to finish my bachelors degree regardless of what I do, and I just want to make sure it will go to use.
Thank you so much for any help you can provide, I have so much admiration for the profession and I appreciate any input.
 

DesertMedic66

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1. Not really. It all depends on what you want to do. I know some paramedics who have gone on to become physicians and I also know ones who definitely could do that if they wanted to. It’s mainly about finding what suits you and what you want.

2. Depending on where you are located there are a lot of variables in the job. You may be able to work full time, part time, or even per diem (as needed). It’s all going to depend on what the agencies in your area are looking for.

3. Many paramedics do have side hustles/jobs. For many it is because of the low pay that paramedics normally get. For others, like myself, it’s because of the amount of time off. In a month I work 7-8 days and have 22 days off so I fill in those days with a second and third job and my BS school program.
 

mgr22

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What is it about emergency medicine that attracts you? Other than time demands, what do you think you wouldn't like about being a doctor?

Do you think there are occupations that people can be too smart for? If so, what would be an example?

If your lifestyle demanded part-time work but your budget required more than that, what would you do?

What do you expect to gain from a bachelor's degree?
 

ffemtrb

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I think it is fantastic that you want to have a career in emergency medicine. There are many options from being an EMT, for going on to Paramedic, Community Para-medicine, or then go on to RN, NP, or PA if you do not go on to being an MD. I have been a volunteer firefighter/EMT for well over 30 years. We have a member of my rural volunteer fire department that started as an firefighter/EMT, also ran as an EMT with a local EMS squad, and then went to medical school and is now an ER doc in a Trauma Center. He still runs fire calls when he is in the area and gives EMS training. So there are many options for you to have a bright future. Full steam ahead!
 
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Romans116

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What is it about emergency medicine that attracts you? Other than time demands, what do you think you wouldn't like about being a doctor?

Do you think there are occupations that people can be too smart for? If so, what would be an example?

If your lifestyle demanded part-time work but your budget required more than that, what would you do?

What do you expect to gain from a bachelor's degree?
Truthfully I feel that God has called me to a career in emergency medicine. I know this sounds odd to some but I feel like it is the only field I need to be in.
I have spent most of my academic life surrounded people whose only goal is to get to med school to prove something or to do what everyone says they should and I’m not attracted to that any more.
I don’t feel that you can be “too smart” for a career, that’s just what others have told me and I wanted the input of people who know what they are talking about.
I hope that from a bachelors degree I can have some other skills I can use in order to provide a more substantial amount of money if I need it.
Thank you so much for your input!
 

mgr22

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Truthfully I feel that God has called me to a career in emergency medicine. I know this sounds odd to some but I feel like it is the only field I need to be in.
I have spent most of my academic life surrounded people whose only goal is to get to med school to prove something or to do what everyone says they should and I’m not attracted to that any more.
I don’t feel that you can be “too smart” for a career, that’s just what others have told me and I wanted the input of people who know what they are talking about.
I hope that from a bachelors degree I can have some other skills I can use in order to provide a more substantial amount of money if I need it.
Thank you so much for your input!
Some of us consider EMS a calling. Of course, that's an individual thing and only one of many reasons people end up in EMS.

Ideally, you'll want to find gainful employment you enjoy. EMS could be that for you, but I think at 17, you should keep asking questions and exploring options. A BS degree can expand those options and offer surprisingly helpful broad-based knowledge, but I don't know a reliable way to predict how much a degree will add to your earnings. As for "substantial" earnings, I don't think that's as important as substantial job satisfaction.

I'm glad you're not hung up on being "too smart" for anything.
 

Akulahawk

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Most people that earn a Bachelors don't end up in a career field that their Bachelors directly prepared them for. Some do. However, part of the purpose of the GE part of the Bachelors is to provide a broad education and a framework from which to work from throughout life. I suspect that it is the broad education, along with experience in various jobs along the way, that provides the "usual" increased lifetime wage earnings from College/University grads vs HS grads. History is replete with financially extremely successful people that haven't graduated from high school and extremely financially unsuccessful people that hold advanced degrees. They are not the norm, however.

My own Bachelors is not in Nursing. I'm presently an RN. My co-workers are usually quite surprised to learn that I do not hold any degree in Nursing past an ADN...
 

ChristopherM

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I have been a Paramedic for a very long time and am sad to say I would not recommend it. I think you would be far better served becoming a Nurse. In some states you could function as a pre-hospital nurse, in others the transition to being a Paramedic from RN is quite easy and does not require a new degree. You would have the option of pursuing NP or CRNA. I am attempting to go to RN school now and overall look back on my career with regret and frustration despite getting to work in various facets of paramedicine. That's my take on it anyway. Best of luck

I should say for clarity that I think the field could be amazing if we went the direction of the UK or Australia with degrees and advanced practice options, but I don't think that will happen in the near future. It is a shame because I know so many Paramedics who are truly incredible providers.
 

mgr22

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I have been a Paramedic for a very long time and am sad to say I would not recommend it. I think you would be far better served becoming a Nurse. In some states you could function as a pre-hospital nurse, in others the transition to being a Paramedic from RN is quite easy and does not require a new degree. You would have the option of pursuing NP or CRNA. I am attempting to go to RN school now and overall look back on my career with regret and frustration despite getting to work in various facets of paramedicine. That's my take on it anyway. Best of luck

I should say for clarity that I think the field could be amazing if we went the direction of the UK or Australia with degrees and advanced practice options, but I don't think that will happen in the near future. It is a shame because I know so many Paramedics who are truly incredible providers.
Why were you dissatisfied as a paramedic? How do you think nursing will make you happier?
 

ChristopherM

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Firstly, making more money if I stay a flight provider. Secondly, the ability to transition to advanced practice which in my case is easier to do via nursing as I have a certificate in paramedicine versus a degree that could be used to move towards PA.

It's not that I dislike the job. It is more that I could do the exact same job as a Nurse for more money and with more career flexibility. It is really hard to recommend being a Paramedic in my opinion.
 

VentMonkey

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Firstly, making more money if I stay a flight provider. Secondly, the ability to transition to advanced practice which in my case is easier to do via nursing as I have a certificate in paramedicine versus a degree that could be used to move towards PA.

It's not that I dislike the job. It is more that I could do the exact same job as a Nurse for more money and with more career flexibility. It is really hard to recommend being a Paramedic in my opinion.
You and I share a similar situation. I’ll most likely be done with me Paramedic BS in a year or so, give or take. At least 2-3 people in each course I’ve taken who are “experienced” paramedics are looking to be some sort of mid-level provider as well, mostly PA’s. Me personally, have little clinical desire past the flight line anymore. Finances are less of an issue for me so making more money does little for me at this point.

All this to say, I don’t recommend one over the other. I tried nursing school (prerequisites) years ago and it just wasn’t for me. It’s not for everyone. As far as degrees and modeling after European countries, they are becoming the norm, but as you’ve eluded to, they probably will not be a standard in either of our careers. There are pockets of advanced provider positions and areas that offer such opportunities, they’re just not standard practice.

For the OP, you have so much time to figure things out. Life got so much easier once my focus shifted away from job satisfaction/ identification and focused more on things that matter. GL.
 

VentMonkey

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OP, here’s a fairly realistic depiction of an ER physician’ duties, and one I found relevant to your aspirations. One of my favorite TED Talks to date as well:
 

ChristopherM

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Overall I think this just goes to show how sorry a state we are in. It seems like others here have different experiences, but in the area I work becoming a Paramedic is almost universally regarded as a poor choice. I can think of numerous examples of young people being talked out of the job and right into RN school. This is especially true of those that have the goal of flying.
 
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Akulahawk

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Being a Paramedic isn't a bad choice. Unfortunately, earning a P-card results in a terminal position in your career relatively quickly. There's only so much you can do, generally, that you just can't go much further as a Paramedic, at least in the US. I think it would be wonderful if Paramedics could have a more clinical approach to things and that would mean more education beyond the basics. Community Paramedicine is not a bad thing... as long as it results in an actually enhanced scope of practice that requires clinical consideration of patient presentation... Basically they'd be a field PA. Another way for a Paramedic to go for advanced education would be to become essentially an emergency resuscitationist.

Unfortunately the field of Paramedicine hobbled itself by specializing in basically ONE thing. Thus, expanding beyond that is not going to be easy. You then have the generalists (nurses) who later specialize not wanting paramedics to elbow their way into the hospital setting...

Nursing isn't a bad way to go... but you do have more options as a nurse for the variety of fields one can get into after graduation or further on in one's career as a nurse than as a Paramedic. I very much enjoyed my time as an actively working Medic and my current time as an ED RN and CCT-RN but if I had more career latitude as a Paramedic and the pay that I get now... I'd be a Paramedic. It's just mostly much more fun for me.
 

ChristopherM

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I am not saying the job itself is terrible. It just seems like you can do the same job as a RN so becoming a Paramedic makes little sense. Most of my RN partners have worked part time or per diem as medics and went through a brief process to get their cards. I realize my experience is just one viewpoint, but I like to share it so that others might avoid the same path if applicable. I regard becoming a Paramedic as one of my worst mistakes.
 

mgr22

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In my experience, paramedics' career choices are only as limited as their education, experience, social skills, flexibility, and drive -- pretty much the norm for any profession. Yes, nurses probably have more options because of prerequisites, but so do doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.

I spent five years at a Level 1 trauma center in a management position. My boss and my boss's boss, who ran not just EMS but the ED, were also medics. Each of us had BS degrees, none of which were EMS-specific.

Picking an occupation and thriving in it is less about what others do for a living and more about our own preparation, our own goals.
 

FiremanMike

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There are so many variables here, including job location, benefits, personality.

I'm 23 years into my full time fire/ems job. A few years ago I went to RN school with the intention of leaving the FD the second I could (I live in a state where the pension heavily penalizes you for leaving before 25 years). I started working part time in the ED at a local hospital as a nurse, and enrolled in NP school which was going to be my end game.

At the end of last year, I got hired at a new FD and my entire outlook has changed. I don't hate work anymore, I'm making a difference, etc. My outlook has changed.

Overall, I have enjoyed both jobs. RN unquestionably gives you more options downstream, but there still is something to be said for the f-d up sh-t we get to do as medics at 3am in a crackhouse..
 

VentMonkey

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In my experience, paramedics' career choices are only as limited as their education, experience, social skills, flexibility, and drive -- pretty much the norm for any profession. Yes, nurses probably have more options because of prerequisites, but so do doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.

I spent five years at a Level 1 trauma center in a management position. My boss and my boss's boss, who ran not just EMS but the ED, were also medics. Each of us had BS degrees, none of which were EMS-specific.

Picking an occupation and thriving in it is less about what others do for a living and more about our own preparation, our own goals.
Clinically speaking, paramedics hit a ceiling relatively quickly. That said, I agree with your overall assessment. Your options are only as limited as you make them out to be. You can pursue other clinical career endeavors (like the OP wants, or like so many others that go into nursing).

I do find it ironic that a lot of paramedics turn around and go into emergency nursing. Not a knock, just ironic. But for others who get their fill of the clinical aspect of the job, I don’t see why they can’t segue into any other career field as you’ve mentioned.

And yes, a degree and higher education like with any other occupation will add to your appeal and make it easier to transition into another career. Personally, I think too many people who “work EMS” do a fantabulous job stymying their own progress and career-growth then turn around and say there’s little opportunities for growth elsewhere. Perspective, right?…
 

Gurby

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Paramedic -> MD here (surgery). I think Emergency Medicine as a field has a lot of problems. Burn out is high, compensation is trending down, there is an over-supply of EM doctors and more and more PA/NP's are staffing ED's in rural areas and eating up those jobs, pressure from admin to see more and more patients and supervise more midlevels, less time spent with patients. I have 2 friends from med school who went into EM, and both are already looking for an exit before even finishing residency (both are going on to palliative care fellowships and likely will never actually work in an ED full time).

There is a lot of doom and gloom on the forums: https://forums.studentdoctor.net/th...-thread-all-med-students-should-read.1477316/

I think going to medical school is a great path for the right person. You should think long and hard about it though if the only specialty you are interested in is EM - you might find that the reality is not as great as you envision it to be. That said I know some other people who had dreamed of being an ED doc for a long time, they went for it, are living it, and seem to really enjoy it and be happy with their decision.

All this just to say, that you should do a lot of shadowing of ED doc's to see what the reality of the job is like, before putting yourself $400k into debt and signing up for 8 years of indentured servitude working 80+ hour weeks to get yourself there.
 

ChristopherM

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Paramedic -> MD here (surgery). I think Emergency Medicine as a field has a lot of problems. Burn out is high, compensation is trending down, there is an over-supply of EM doctors and more and more PA/NP's are staffing ED's in rural areas and eating up those jobs, pressure from admin to see more and more patients and supervise more midlevels, less time spent with patients. I have 2 friends from med school who went into EM, and both are already looking for an exit before even finishing residency (both are going on to palliative care fellowships and likely will never actually work in an ED full time).

There is a lot of doom and gloom on the forums: https://forums.studentdoctor.net/th...-thread-all-med-students-should-read.1477316/

I think going to medical school is a great path for the right person. You should think long and hard about it though if the only specialty you are interested in is EM - you might find that the reality is not as great as you envision it to be. That said I know some other people who had dreamed of being an ED doc for a long time, they went for it, are living it, and seem to really enjoy it and be happy with their decision.

All this just to say, that you should do a lot of shadowing of ED doc's to see what the reality of the job is like, before putting yourself $400k into debt and signing up for 8 years of indentured servitude working 80+ hour weeks to get yourself there.

This is just great advice in general. I have been thinking about shadowing some NPs to make sure the career change is worth the effort. To be clear, I fully understand I don't have the education or skillset of a physician or APP. However I work in a pretty high-speed program with a fair amount of autonomy and access to numerous procedures. I do sometimes wonder if the years of school are worth it given I am already old as dirt. Certainly I think it's easy to imagine what a role will be like , and forget to consider the downside and daily grind.
 
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