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From Nurse to…Paramedic?

You may be thinking, Isn’t that title backward? While it’s true many paramedics progress to nursing degrees, there are many benefits to nurses obtaining EMT or paramedic certification as well.

While both part of healthcare, these two fields are vastly different and independently important pieces of the overall patient care puzzle. While nursing deals with long-term patient care under the supervision of a doctor in a hospital setting, EMT/paramedic training focuses on initial patient assessment and emergency response. Topics covered in EMT training may include:

  • Treatment for trauma emergencies;
  • Airway management and maneuvers;
  • Spinal immobilization using KED and longboard;
  • Traction splinting;
  • Splinting procedures;
  • Treatment for medical emergencies, including pediatric and geriatric;
  • Ambulance operations.

Can a Nurse Become a Paramedic?

So why would RNs want to become EMT/paramedic-certified?

Employment opportunities—Becoming versed in both fields can expand employment opportunities. Companies in the private sector and organizations in the public domain alike desire highly educated people with well-rounded scopes of medical care knowledge. RNs with EMS training and background can find professional specialties that include flight nursing, ED and intensive-care positions, EMS instruction, and running calls with local squads.

The adrenaline rush—Some nurses are drawn to the hectic and unpredictable world of trauma and emergency. It may be in their nature to take control of an emergency situation or play an intricate part in a quick-moving crisis. Some may have seen EMS crews rush into hospitals and deliver the facts and details of patient events. Others were probably drawn into that “rush” even without witnessing a scene like that. Regardless, those situations typically arise in emergency departments, trauma units, and the field. An ambulance work environment can provide that lifestyle and may be a better fit for some than a slower-paced hospital setting.

Autonomy—Some nurses may not like the strict rules and regulations that apply to nursing. Restrictive guidelines, hospital protocols, and close supervision can all contribute to a feeling of not being a major role player at all. Even though paramedicine also has rules and guidelines, it may have a different “feel” when you are a first responder and it’s your actions and decisions that control a scene. It can provide a sense of independence.

Course lengths differ by program but typically last 1-2 weeks (average 54 hours) for RN-to-EMT bridge courses, while RN-to paramedic courses vary from a couple of months to up to a year.

How Can a Nurse Become a Paramedic?

The benefits of nurses expanding their EMS skill sets can vary and may not apply to everyone. In some places there has been historical tension between the professions. However, the more each learns from the other, the more it will help everyone’s knowledge of patient treatment and care.

Jeremy Johnson is director of marketing for the Platinum Education Group.


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