As a Paramedic, many often find themselves as far up the employment ladder as they can go and look for other methods of job advancement. Since nursing seems to be the most logical transition, many paramedics begin to seek methods of transitioning into the nursing field.
While there are a great many differences between the roles of a Paramedic and a nurse, they also share many common employment interests and training. The majority of training for a paramedic is focused towards emergency care, and jobs in emergency rooms and intensive care units almost seem like a natural transition for paramedics. This would not only give paramedics a new avenue in which they could advance, it would also help the health care industry by providing a resource for filling the gaps in healthcare caused by nursing shortages.
Before asking if a paramedic can challenge nursing exams, we must first understand what the differences in training and employment are between the two. Education for nurses is held through college programs designed to teach students a well-rounded knowledge and skill base. General education requirements, such as math, English, literature, and writing are typically prerequisites for students before beginning actual training for nurses. Nurses are also taught a very wide spectrum of health care based ideas and skills that cover everything from emergency care, to long term patient treatments. Course for nurses are designed to provide the student with a broad approach to patient care, and allows them to then focus their studies to certain areas for future advancement. As part of an overall curriculum, nurses obtain college credits for their education that is then applied towards various college degrees, depending on how much time and training the student wishes to partake in.
Until recent years, paramedics were taught on a less formal basis. Most programs were sponsored by hospital teaching institutions, but were not part of any college or university curriculum. Students undergo intense training and clinical time, but the vast majority of that training is focused at making the paramedic a professional when it comes to treatment of emergency patients. Training involves emergency procedures, and treatment of patients in need of immediate care. While there is some training in long term care for patients, most of that training is designed so that the paramedic is actually preparing the patient for long term care by a trained health care worker. Paramedic training towards long term and specialized care is more geared towards giving the paramedic a solid foundation so that they can make emergency patient care decisions based upon what that patient may need in the long term.
In recent years, many paramedic programs have become governed by colleges and other formal educating bodies, and students actually take the paramedic course as part of a credit based syllabus. While nearly every paramedic provider in the U.S. does not require a formal degree for a paramedic, having a degree gave paramedics a feeling of accomplishment and also gives them a formal education background in which to build upon.
Much of the paramedic training curriculum is being recognized by formal education bodies today. While it is not enough to grant the paramedic full reciprocity into nursing programs, many institutions will give the paramedic a substantial amount of college credit for the intense training they have already received.
In order for a paramedic challenge nursing exams and training, most nurse training institutions require the paramedic to first complete general education requirements, as well as courses designed to provide the student a wider spectrum of skill and knowledge. Part of this spectrum includes more in depth chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and also focused looks at pediatrics, geriatrics, and how to treat patients on a more long term basis.
One program offers paramedics the opportunity to use their previous training towards the nursing program. This program is basically the same program as the LPN to RN program, but it allows paramedics to begin on nearly the same level as an LPN. This program allows the paramedic to complete the course work, and become a registered nurse in approximately one year, depending on the course load the paramedic chooses.
As more and more paramedic programs become governed by formal education bodies, such as colleges, universities, trade schools, and technical schools, paramedics are finding it easier to obtain college credit for their training. Already, there are programs being discussed that would allow students to first take coursework in a generalized health care study, and then give the student a choice of advancing towards a nursing credit or a paramedic credit. A curriculum designed in this way would allow the student to choose their path, after first obtaining the basic educational requirements that are common between each path of study. This would grant the student the ability to then become a nurse or a paramedic, but give them the freedom to transition later in their career.
Paramedics and nurses both face many challenges in their careers when it comes to employment. Nurses face large amounts of overtime and pressures caused by shortages in the industry, while paramedics often face a lack of advancement and pay scale shortages. Programs designed in conjunction with each can help to alleviate the strains on both industries, while also providing the health care system a more broadly trained base of students that can easily take on roles in a wide number of areas.