LP Research Resources September 26, 2016

Career Opportunities for Paramedics

When I began my EMS career in the late 1980’s, paramedics were still somewhat of a rare commodity in our county. Mostly rural EMS, our service covered the county with an EMT-A, or Advanced EMT, and three basic EMTs. We would also have a part-time paramedic on duty, but he only responded to calls that were known to need Advanced Life Support.

EMS and EMS services have changed a lot in the 40 years of its existence. While the basic principals have remained the same, the roles of basic, advanced, and paramedic EMTs has seen significant changes. The reason is that many of the responsibilities once thought to be reserved for more advanced trained responders, are now taught to even the most basic. As a basic EMT receives more and more training, it decreases the responsibility reserved for paramedics.

Where do paramedics go from here?

Several years ago, there began a push for paramedics to make a transition into long-term patient care. This push was mostly driven by the need for paramedics to continue to make advancements in healthcare, and was fueled by the seemingly unending shortage of nurses. While many efforts were and are still being made to place more nurses into the system, the nursing shortage only seems to grow. This shortage helped to open a door for paramedics that were looking for “that next career move”.

Paramedics are highly trained individuals that had previously only specialized in emergency care. However, as the gap of skills and education between the basic EMT and the paramedic drew closer, paramedics were allowed to explore more training options in long-term patient care. Through EMT paramedic courses, advanced training was possible. This training has helped the paramedic to take a step towards long-term patient care, and has begun to pave the way for paramedics to more easily step into nursing roles.

In just the last few years, the industry has recognized the ability of the paramedic to transition into nursing. By harvesting new nurses from a field of health care workers that were previously restricted, the benefits are serving more than one community. Paramedics are no longer restricted to a limited career and the nursing industry gets to tap into a new area for nurses. Perhaps patients are the ones that benefit the most, because they can now see better patient to nurse ratios, while also having caregivers that are experts in long-term care and emergency care.

What are the options for paramedics to become nurses?

In the mid 1990’s, when paramedics really began seeking entry into nursing, the choices were very limited. Because no transitioning had been created, paramedics found themselves with years of training and expertise, but could not use it to help them become nurses. As time moved on and the push became more intense schools started to offer minimal credit for a paramedic’s education towards college credits. The credits could then be used to help shorten an education to become a nurse.

Schools that offer programs for paramedics to become nurses do so by giving paramedics career options. Some of these options include:

  1. Tests that paramedics can take advantage of by utilizing their previous education to gain college credits towards a nursing program.
  2. Automatically granting college credits to paramedics for certain certifications and previous experience.
  3. Applying college level paramedic training towards a nursing degree

The field of an EMT paramedic is expanding. It is no longer limited to just fire and emergency services. As the paramedics knowledge and skill base grows, so do the employment options for the paramedic. The evolution of a paramedic is constantly changing, and the role of the paramedic is changing with it. Advancements in training are gradually connecting the paramedic to the nursing industry, and in the end, patients become the ultimate beneficiaries.

Jamey is a writer that believes in the need for a more advanced public safety system. He does so by helping to promote educational opportunities in public safety.