Can A Paramedic REALLY Become A Nurse?

You’ve worked for a while now as a paramedic, issuing basic care to patients before they reach a hospital or medical facility. Lately, you’ve wanted to take your career to the next level, administering treatments at a medical facility in the capacity of a nurse. Can you jump right into nursing as a paramedic?

Paramedics can become nurses. To do this you will have to enroll in a nursing program designed specifically for paramedics. There, you’d gain medical skills that build on what you know to help ready you for the rigorous job responsibilities of working as a nurse.

In this article, we’ll explain first the job responsibilities of a nurse versus a paramedic, then delve into how a paramedic can acquire those skills. If you’re a paramedic who’s interested in a career change, you’re not going to want to miss this article! 

What Does a Paramedic Do vs. a Nurse?

First, as promised, let’s showcase what the daily duties of a nurse are compared to a paramedic. 

This section will help you see which skills you’ll require to work as a nurse as well as whether any of your current paramedic skills overlap with nursing job responsibilities. 

Paramedic Job Responsibilities

Paramedics are sometimes also known as ambulance assistants. They are often lumped in with emergency medical technicians or EMTs, but a paramedic is a more advanced role. 

Compared to an EMT, a paramedic can offer more comprehensive care to a patient. I wrote another article on the differences between an EMT and a Paramedic if you’d like to learn more.

A paramedic will arrive at the scene of an accident. They may work alone or with a team. They’ll assess the state of the patient and then administer care. 

Typical duties of a paramedic include:

  • Offer care or treatment, including adding a pacemaker, administering medications, inserting an IV line, doing CPR, offering oxygen, and tracking glucose
  • Document a patient’s condition as well as the treatments they receive before they’re transported to a hospital 
  • Make quick decisions about the best method of treatment for a patient in real-time
  • Report the care the patient received to medical staff, including doctors and nurses
  • Drive the ambulance to the hospital or other medical facility 

Nurse Job Responsibilities 

As a nurse, you undergo training and education to earn the credential of a registered nurse. 

Unlike a paramedic or EMT, who treats patients where the accident or incident occurred and transports patients to a hospital, the nurse would work at the hospital or another medical facility. 

Typical nurse responsibilities include:

  • Assess a patient who recently arrived at the hospital
  • Review a patient’s current medical records as well as any treatments a paramedic might have administered and the effectiveness of the treatment
  • Create a treatment regimen as part of a medical plan
  • Review a patient’s level of care to meet standards
  • Supervise and sometimes train nursing students, nursing assistants, vocational nurses, and licensed practical nurses
  • Discuss a patient’s care with the patient as well as their family members
  • Take samples such as urine, blood, and other fluids
  • Use medical equipment
  • Step in and help with medical procedures
  • Do basic wound care, including cleaning a wound and bandaging it
  • Administer other treatments and medications

Can a Paramedic Become a Nurse? 

Everyone is always looking for the opportunity to advance their careers. You might have started as an EMT who eventually became a paramedic. Now you’re ready to take that next step. 

Many paramedics decide to go from their current roles to working as a nurse. After all, as a paramedic, you already have experience making quick decisions, administering some treatments, caring for patients, and keeping track of their treatment records. 

As a nurse, you’d expand on that paramedic skillset. 

To get started, you’d enroll in what’s known as a paramedic-to-RN bridge program. As a student of the program, you could work your way towards an associate’s degree in nursing and then a Bachelor of Science in nursing. 

You can always skip the bachelor’s program if you want to jump into a nursing career right away. You can still become a registered nurse, and you could get hired for entry-level nursing positions. 

Then, later, if you want to advance your career even further, you can always work your way towards your bachelor’s degree. 

The paramedic-to-RN bridge program with an associate’s degree takes between 12 and 24 months to complete. For the bachelor’s degree, you’d spend four years working towards it. 

Here is a selection of topics your education might explore: 

  • Management and leadership
  • Nursing research
  • Global health policy
  • Illness and health within the community
  • Geriatrics
  • Nursing care
  • Pathophysiology 
  • Pharmacology 
  • Professional issues in nursing
  • Health assessment in nursing
  • Fundamentals of nursing

Is It Worth Going From a Paramedic to a Nurse?

Should you stay where you are currently as a paramedic or take a chance and explore a nursing education? These factors may sway you one way or the other. 

Higher Wages

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS, the average hourly rate of a paramedic is $17.62 and the yearly rate is $36,650. Your earnings can and do vary by state.

Don’t get us wrong. You’re making a good living as a paramedic, but you could be earning a lot more.

The BLS states that the hourly rate for nurses is $36.22 and the yearly rate is $75,330.

That’s an earnings increase of $38,680 per year! The numbers, we think, speak for themselves. 

More Advancement Opportunities

As we mentioned before, if you went from an EMT to a paramedic, then you’ve evolved your career in this area as far as it will go. 

Should you become a registered nurse, you have all sorts of directions to take your career. You could continue your education to earn a Master of Science in nursing. You can also work as a nurse practitioner or a nurse educator. 

Could Reduce Stress

Some people who have gone from working as a paramedic to a nurse say the job isn’t as stressful. We say that varies depending on whether you work as a nurse in a bustling hospital or a quiet doctor’s office.

Without the ambulance trips comprising the majority of your job though, you just may find working as a nurse less stressful than being a paramedic. 

Paramedics can very easily become nurses by enrolling in a bridge program and earning their associate’s or bachelor’s degrees. If you’re a paramedic wondering what else is out there, we hope this post gave you some great information!