How To Become a Nurse Paramedic
Updated June 28, 2023
A paramedic stands next to a list entitled, "Key Skills ofNurse Paramedics" that includes these skills:
• Assessment and diagnostics
• Communication and empathy
• Time management
If you're interested in working in a fast-paced, high-pressure medical setting, consider becoming a nurse paramedic. This role combines the life-saving patient care skills of nursing with the short-term responsibility of being a paramedic. Knowing what this role involves and how to become one can help you determine if this is the right patient care role for you. In this article, we explore what a nurse paramedic does, the qualifications they need to secure employment and the steps needed to become one.
What is a nurse paramedic?
A nurse paramedic is an emergency medical service professional who treats patients in transport to hospitals or other medical facilities. As a registered nurse trained as a paramedic, they administer medication, monitor vitals, tend to wounds and stabilize patients after accidents or health incidents like heart attacks or while being transported to another facility for treatment or surgery. Nurse paramedics may provide patient care in ambulances or in medical planes or helicopters as flight nurses.
Related: What Does a Registered Nurse Do?
What does a nurse paramedic do?
Though specific duties may depend on their employment type, nurse paramedics often have the following responsibilities:
Carrying patients to ambulatory vehicles on stretchers
Using life-saving measures like dressing wounds, opening airways and intubating
Administering oxygen and medications as needed
Performing CPR or defibrillation
Monitoring vitals with ECGs and connecting IVs
Caring for patients with acute reactions, like allergic reactions, to chronic conditions, like diabetes
Documenting pre-hospitalization patient conditions, including procedures and medications provided during transport
Tracking inventory of medical supplies, including personal protective equipment and medications, available in the ambulatory vehicle
Related: Learn About Being a Paramedic
Nurse paramedic salary
Indeed doesn't have salary data for nurse paramedics, but here are some salary figures for related roles to give you an idea of what a nurse paramedic can earn:
Earning potential may depend on geographical location, employment type, years of relevant experience, level of education, relevant training and certification.
Nurse paramedic skills
Here are some skills you can develop to become an effective nurse paramedic:
These professionals must be able to speak clearly and practice active listening to ensure they give and understand directions that could save their patients' lives. They must also calmly explain procedures to patients and reassure them during transport.
Being able to multitask and complete tasks quickly is essential to being an effective nurse paramedic. They may need to complete a few life-saving procedures at one time while monitoring vitals and communicating with the patient. Also, nurse paramedics should efficiently perform life-saving measures to improve or maintain patient conditions.
The work of a nurse paramedic can vary widely in terms of what conditions and wounds they treat, where they pick up patients and how patients react to treatment. Also, a patient's condition can change in an instant, so being able to react quickly to these changes can ensure they stabilize the patient.
This role is fast-paced and high-pressure, so these professionals must be able to analyze a situation, determine the outcome of options and choose an effective option quickly. With experience and training, nurse paramedics can develop the confidence and knowledge they need to make quick decisions that benefit their patients the most.
Nurse paramedics must be able to identify symptoms and causes of injury or acute reactions and use the best measures to address the problem. This may involve inspecting patients, checking vitals and trying different options.
Related: FAQ: Paramedic or Nurse
Work environment for a nurse paramedic
Nurse paramedics can provide emergency patient care in ambulances, medical airplanes and helicopters. They may work for an organization that owns and coordinates these emergency service vehicles, or they may work for a healthcare organization that has their own emergency service vehicles. They can work a variety of shifts, including overnights and weekends.
These professionals spend much of their time traveling to and from medical facilities and emergency call locations, including roadsides and homes. They also collaborate with fellow paramedics as well as EMTs, firefighters and police officers at some emergency call locations. When they arrive at the medical facility, they may interact with physicians and nurses before heading to another call.
How to become a nurse paramedic
Here are the steps you can take to pursue a nurse paramedic career:
1. Earn a nursing degree
Nurse paramedics typically start their careers as a registered nurse, which requires you to earn an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing. Both of these programs provide classroom training in patient care best practices, pharmacology, anatomy and diagnostics. You also complete clinical hours in hospital settings to observe practicing doctors and nurses, treat patients under supervision and get additional training in specialized medical disciplines. The knowledge and skills you earn during your degree program prepare you to sit for licensure exams in your state.
2. Gain licensure as a registered nurse
Take the NCLEX-RN exam to gain board certification and licensure from your state's regulatory board for nursing. This exam tests your knowledge of best patient care practices, healthcare policies and ethics. Upon passing the exam and earning your license, you're required to renew your license every few years, depending on your state, by taking continuing education courses.
3. Acquire experience as an emergency room nurse
Depending on the paramedic training program you apply to, you may need to have a certain number of years in nursing experience. Some programs may require experience in emergency room nursing. After earning your license, consider working for a few years as an ER nurse to develop your skills in quick decision-making, adaptability and time management. This experience can also prepare you for the fast-paced, high-pressure nature of being a paramedic. You can also get experience with a wide variety of patient injuries, conditions and illnesses in an ER setting.
4. Complete EMT training and certification
Attend a certified EMT training program at a community or technical college to learn the skills and procedures of a paramedic. You take courses in airway management, ambulance operations, emergency life support procedures and efficient diagnostics. After completing the program, you can sit for and pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians' (NREMT) EMT-Basic certification exam. In addition, consider also getting board certified for emergency nursing by obtaining a Certified Emergency Nurse certification. RN-to-Paramedic bridge programs may require both certifications for admission.
5. Obtain other certifications
There are many other EMT- and nursing-related certifications you can earn to refine your skills and demonstrate your dedication to service. Some certifications you might consider earning include Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) from the American Heart Association. These certifications demonstrate your specialized training and knowledge of emergency care measures for these populations or conditions, which can increase your earning potential, lead to advancement opportunities and increase your employability.
6. Pursue an RN-to-Paramedic bridge program
An RN-to-Paramedic bridge program is a brief training program that translates your nursing education to emergency services practice. In these programs, you take classes, complete clinical hours and do internships in paramedic patient care practices, including pre-hospital assessment and management, trauma care and other topics learned during your certified EMT training program.
7. Earn your paramedic license
Depending on your state's requirements, you may earn your paramedic license after passing the NREMT exam or after passing your state's paramedic licensing exam. After passing the required exam, you must maintain your license by completing CE credits, working a certain number of hours in an emergency response medical setting or taking an approved exam.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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