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Paramedic Bridge to RN Programs

Paramedic Bridge to RN Programs

Hollis Forster

Another innovation in nursing education and maybe another way to get more RNs onto the hospital floors sooner!

If you are a paramedic but have been frustrated by the inability to advance in the medical field, this maybe the way for you to achieve some higher career goals with an abbreviated course of study. You still are expected to fulfill the pre-requisites of a nursing program (anatomy and physiology, chemistry, math, and general education classes) but the first year of the nursing classes seems to be shortened in most of these programs.

For instance, you complete your pre-requisites, then take a “bridge course,” over a span of several weeks, and then you can enter the third semester of the nursing program classes, thereby reducing the nursing curriculum part of your training to one year instead of two.

The reason for this is the intense learning you have already mastered by becoming a paramedic and working in the field. Here are some requirements of some of the programs that offer this opportunity:

1. Licensure as a paramedic.
2. Two years experience in the field as a paramedic (it is unclear that every program demands this).
3. Completion of pre-requisites for nursing including anatomy and physiology, chemistry, math, and other general education courses.
4. GPA of 2.5 or greater

Many of the bridge program courses and the pre-requisites can be done as on-line courses. This is always great for working adults trying to advance their education. It means you do not need to give up your job to go back to school. What about the differences between paramedic and nursing practice. What kinds of adjustments or changes will a seasoned paramedic need to make in their practice and mind set in order to be a successful nurse?

1. Targeted, emergency care: although many newly educated paramedics will go into emergency care, general nursing care is aimed at care of the patient with a longer view of their disease or life issues in mind. That is, although emergent care is essential to know, nursing also involves the patient’s nutritional needs, support systems, on-going care of chronic problems and preventive care.

2. Ability to advance your career: Maybe this does not mean too much of a mind-set change, but you will have greater flexibility with your career with a nursing degree. You can do emergency nursing, where there will be less emphasis on continuity of care and preventive medicine, but you can also move into administrative roles, community nursing, even teaching, if you decide to complete an MS degree.

Where paramedics can make $30-50,000 a year, even Associate degree nurses can make twice that amount depending on the state where you are practicing and the field of nursing you enter.

3. Practice environment: My son, who was a paramedic and is working on entering a nursing program just told me he thinks that the adjustment to working in a hospital setting will involve a little challenge. He thinks the hospital will be busier, with the necessity for more multi-tasking. Handling many things at once may be different for the paramedic, where the work was more targeted, directed and immediate.

There will be challenges and growth experiences involved in this kind of program and this new career path, but the opportunity to make a change with the support of the educational system is exciting.

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