1. #1
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    Default Paramedic cert. vs. Nursing School

    Hello, I'm taking pre-requisite classes right now towards either getting into a Paramedic Program or a Nursing program. My ultimate goal is to be a career Firefighter but was curious if anyone out there had any input on which path to choose. I currently volunteer with a department, I have three seasons of wildland fire under my belt, and I have a four year degree. I would like to make myself as qualified a candidate as possible so I'm considering further schooling. I realize the medic cert might be more relevant, but a nursing degree would offer better job security and still provide an excellent opportunity for patient care. If anyone has any experience or advice in either of these fields I would greatly appreciate your feedback!!

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    Go nursing. Make about 3x as much as a medic your first year out of school. Volunteer somewhere as an EMT to get your fill, or get some ICU experience and then become a flight medic.

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    If you want a career in firefighting, go to Paramedic school. You don't see very many FF/Nurse positions around. Closest you might get would be some sort of Life Flight or Critical Care Nurse.

    I'd guess there are more opportunities out there for Nursing right now, so you probably stand a better chance of getting hired quickly. You'll probably start out making about the same (FF/EMT-P vs. Nurse), but you'll probably ultimately make more as a nurse, depending where you are located and if you specialize. Once you're hired, I'd say both positions are pretty secure. I would not suggest working for a civilian ambulance company as a Paramedic as most of those make very little.

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    Thanks for the Info I appreciate it! I agree there are not FF/Nurse positions but I'm thinking of a career I can do now that would allow me the opportunity to make a living while I'm still trying to get hired by an FD. It seems like the majority of people I have talked to who are Paramedics in the private sector burn out quick, whereas the FF/Medics I have talked to love their job.

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    Get your nursing degree. Work full time until you get called for an academy. After that you can work the nursing per diem around the ff job. Best of both worlds. If you get the nursing depending on where you live there might even be a bridge class for RN to Paramedic.

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    In my area, I think the reason so many civilian Paramedics (and EMTs) burn out is due to lack of pay (EMTs make $8-$9/hr and Paramedics make $10-$11/hr) and the quality of work. Most of the civilian agencies only do BLS transports nursing home to nursing home. If they're really lucky, they may be in a rural area that allows them to respond on emergent cases, but those are usually so few and far between.

    I think the nursing degree (esp if you work the emergency room) would give you a good background to start from once you get hired to continue into paramedic school.

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    Mc Donalds pays 11 an hour here after 1 year. EMT's make 14-15 amd medics make 20-25.

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    Emt-B's make around 10 or 11 an hour and what I"ve been told Medics make around 13 or 14 an hour here in the NorthWest... Which is not the greatest income when your trying to pay bills and still afford to test around for a fire job. I feel that Nursing could be financially beneficial and would still provide excellent patient care experience. I appreciate all the input so far!

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    Get your RN.

    Like someone else said, it would be an amazing per diem job to work on your off days.

    Around here, major hospitals pay >$50/hour for certain specialties and will do neat stuff on weekends like, you work 2x12 hour shifts and get paid for 40 hours.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    Most nursing programs require you to go full time. This would be easy to do now, but it would be prohibitively difficult to clear your work schedule for two years of FT school when you're on the job. Get your ASN first, for that reason as well as the others above. I know that in NY a nurse can challenge the medic exam. I suspect the same is true elsewhere.

    So, you can get your RN without any schedule conflicts, enjoy the lucrative compensation, challenge the medic after the fact, and work at a FD making serious bank as a nurse on your off days.

    Apparently the trend nowadays is to require degrees for officer promotions, or at least for admin positions. You'll be ahead of the pack, as the majority of FF's, statistically speaking, don't currently hold degrees.

    Also, if you jack up your back or suffer a career ending injury, you won't be in the poor house with only long term disability and such. You can still work as a nurse.

    You could also use the RN + medic cert and easily complete an EMS BA and use that for future admin gigs after retirement as well. Around my way a paramedic tech cert gets you 37 credits toward an EMS AAS (aka two year paramedic degree). Combine that with an existing ASN and you'll pretty much have that completed and do significant damage to the BA EMS requirements.

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    Go for your medic license you'll have a year on your belt. Medics are allowed to intubate patients while nurses can't only doctors in the ER can. Medics only give certain drugs on the field, nurses give all drugs in the ER. Thats pretty much the only difference besides of a little bit more of schooling and some code browns. lol.
    Once you finish the medic program you can enter the nursing program and go for 1 year to become a nurse. Most all ff/medics do this to make money on their off days. They work Per diem at the ER's and make twice as much as a full time nurse.

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    Go for your RN. I work 24/48's and pick up one day a week working in a local ER. Current per diem rate here for RN is $ 42.00/hr. Worked as RN for 10 years before getting full time fire position.
    Last edited by mcl312; 01-17-2010 at 08:14 PM.

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    I'd say get your RN too. At least in IL (and probably many other states) after I think it is 2 years as an RN, you take a VERY short class (40 hrs or so?) and run 10 ALS calls as a ride along, and become a PHRN - Pre Hospital RN. They can do everything and only things a Paramedic can do. They are a defacto Paramedic, and would probably work for many FF's that require a Paramedic license.

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    If you have your prereqs (may be different than nursing prereqs) and you have your BS, then why not spend the 2 years to get your masters in PA studies? You'll make way more money and could even land a gig as the assistant medical director to the fire department.

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    I'm a FF/Paramedic. I'm looking at bridging over to RN. If you can get the RN now do it. Like others said, if nothing else it makes a good side job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nomex82 View Post
    .... I realize the medic cert might be more relevant, but a nursing degree would offer better job security and still provide an excellent opportunity for patient care. If anyone has any experience or advice in either of these fields I would greatly appreciate your feedback!!
    Hi there!

    I am an RN and nursing definitely has some great job security. I would say that if you were debating between some different career fields than maybe you should try to shadow them. I would suggest finding some nurse jobs that you like and then requesting to shadow one of the RN's in that facility for a day. It should also help you if you inform them that you are a firefighter. I hope you find a good solution.

    Best,

    Shannon, RN

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    I think it depends on your region of the country. Here in California you need to have a paramedic license to apply for many of the firefighter positions. Having a medic license gets you in the game. The same cannot be said about a nursing degree.

    As far as making more money with a nursing degree. That does not hold true as a FF/PM here either. Our guys do not have side jobs, they work overtime. It's cheaper for us to pay people time and one half than it is to hire a new firefighter by the time you figure the burdening costs (sick leave, vacation and the cost to train a new firefightera0.

    So, here in California there is no question that it would be more beneficial to get a medic license.
    Good luck with your decision! Either way you cannot go wrong.
    Paul Lepore
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    I work nights on BlS and I make 23 a hour Base rate. Plenty of medics and emts where I'm at make 6 figures with a good portion of OT. However I am in CA and I realize things are a bit different here...

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    Thanks everyone for the responses. I actually got hired by a career department and did not complete either the paramedic or nurse route. But it's very interesting to see what people have to say, I appreciate the input and feedback. I feel that eventually I want to get my paramedic but first I want to become a great basic.

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    Congratulations on your success. Finish probation and earn the respect of your peers. Once you have learned to be a good firefighter jump at the opportunity to go to paramedic school. It's a great job and you will have an incredible responsibility.
    My best memories of my career were on the box with a good partner. My former partner and I are now Chief officers. We just spent a week fishing in Mexico. As we reflected back to the best timesin our career, it always came back to treating patients and having laughs on the rescue. He is now the fire chief of a major city and I am in my position. We often dream of retiring and working on the "box" for a private company.
    Paul Lepore
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    Default Masters in PA?

    Quote Originally Posted by donedeal View Post
    If you have your prereqs (may be different than nursing prereqs) and you have your BS, then why not spend the 2 years to get your masters in PA studies? You'll make way more money and could even land a gig as the assistant medical director to the fire department.
    PA? Public Administration?

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    Itís not a bad idea to get a degree in nursing if youíre considering it as an alternative career or something you can do while you wait for a call from the Forest Department.

    Maybe because of a shortfall in trained nurses or because of an increase in demand due to the aging population of the country, nursing currently offers excellent employment opportunities. But be prepared to work shifts and weekends as it is a 24/7 job. If you think you have what it takes to be a nurse, take a look at the accredited nursing programs offered at Stevens-Henager College. The degree is offered at both Associateís and Bachelorís level at SHC

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    Physicians assistant. Mini doctor

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    A friend of mine who just graduated with an RN started at $65,000/year.

    Therefore get your RN, work full time and do the per diem thing if you get called for an academy.

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