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Paramedicine or Nursing

Should I choose Nursing or Paramedicine first?

  • Nursing

    Votes: 2 100.0%
  • Paramedicine

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
Hi everyone,

First post here.

So here's my dilemma. I'm about to graduate from my dual nursing/paramedicine degree and I'm in a fortunate/unfortunate predicament of having multiple job offers. ED for nursing and AV/NSWA for paramedics (still waiting on QAS).

I potentially want a career in both, and not limit myself in either, since burnout is real in either profession. I was happy until Saturday to settle with nursing first and then potentially get a job with a paramedic service after my graduate year. I happen to have a customer walk into my bar who is an AV paramedic and was telling me that AV are currently doing a massive intake and that potentially if I reject their offer (any paramedic job for that matter) I may not get a job with them in the near future.

I was hoping to get nursing out of the way first since the job offer was my first choice hospital and department. I've always had a passion for paediatrics and I chose that hospital since it was the few in my area that did both adult and paeds ED. Also the skills I'd learn in ED would transfer well into paramedicine, whereas vice versa it would be a more difficult transition. I've sought advice from all my peers, my mentors, tutors and lecturers. Now I'm putting myself on an open forum which may assist in helping me come to a more concrete decision.

So to anyone with a dual degree what did you choose first and why?
To ED nurses, why should I choose that career path?
To current paramedics working for AV/NSWA/QAS, why is it better than other services?

Thank you for your time.

Kind regards,

P.S. My future aspirations are to be involved in disaster management or working with DFAT, and hopefully go into academia such as teaching/lecturing.

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The unfortunate answer is that no matter what you choose I believe you are going to feel a degree of regret for some time, purely because of the unknown that comes with making a decision like this. I did my undergrad in Paramedicine before beginning the M.D and had to choose between a grad program with the QAS or to start med (not quite the same, but essentially choosing between a pre-hospital or hospital based role). Prior to this it seemed like a no brainer, med all the way, but when it came time to make a decision I was really torn. It's been around 8 months now since I had to make the decision and whilst I'm comfortable with the one I made, it still makes me pretty upset knowing that I had the opportunity to do something I really did and still would enjoy, and chose not to.

I think maybe it's time to take a step back and consider a few things.

First and foremost, what degree did you enter with the intention of working in after? Did you do the dual with the intention of being a paramedic and nursing as a backup? (or vica versa) This can change, but I think it's important to consider what you truly thought you wanted prior to having to choose between the two.

How has your perception of the roles changed, and does either job fulfil what YOU want out of the job?

Consider the nature of each healthcare professional. A paramedic is given a lot of autonomy and asked to think on their feet and make decisions. They see patients with zero diagnosis or assessment previously and can be called to some of the most interesting and exciting work of any health professional (again, subjective..). They are however VERY limited to emergency/Pre-hospital medicine. Yes, they learn components of other areas of health, but I have learnt first hand just how limited that knowledge base was when compared to what I am studying now, with emergency medicine being the obvious exception.

A nurse on the other hand has the potential for substantial career progression into clinical nursing, nurse practitioner etc. and can branch into just about any are of health. If you don't want to be exclusively emergency/pre-hospital medicine, then maybe nursing is the more appropriate career path for you? Many people prefer the comfort of a hospital with a large team to work with and an abundance of resources at your disposal, whilst some prefer to work alone in changing environments, using what little equipment they may have.

Next is what you want long term. Burnout plays a big part in job satisfaction, and it's a well known fact that both professionals can experience it. My understanding however is that paramedics have a 'life expectancy' of five years before leaving the service and 'burning out'. I can't compare the working conditions of both because I have never experienced work as a nurse, but I haven't heard of attrition rates on the same level. (forgive my ignorance if they are in fact the same or worse)

You mentioned wanting to go into disaster management, and the most obvious pathway for that is through paramedics OR completing a degree in emergency/disaster management. My understanding is that nurses have a very limited role in this area.

The other possibility I put forward is to complete your grad year with nursing then reapply to be a paramedic. The only issue with that is that paramedics is incredibly competitive now and you may not be successful.

Ultimately, the decision is very personal. In your situation I would choose paramedics because I much prefer the prospect of working in changing pre-hospital environments, having the capacity to make my own clinical decisions and judgement, and then treat using my own decision making. That being said, my interest doesn't extend far past emergency medicine which is why I would choose that. That is in no way me telling you what to do, just giving you my opinion on what I would choose and why if I was in your situation.

Good luck in making a decision!
Thank you for your verbose and thought provoking reply, it was very much appreciated.

Your response has probably been the most insightful and has allowed me to reflect a little better on the best way forward. I did move interstate to start the dual degree in hopes of becoming a paramedic. I think along the way I thought nursing would fall by the wayside and therefore I wanted to finalise my graduate year with it first, since I knew paramedicine was what I wanted to do career wise.

I don't think I would ever pursue a nursing career if it wasn't ED, I think that very fact is quite telling in that the similarity to paramedicine is the reason I enjoy it so much. I never enjoyed my ward nursing to the degree that I did with my ED placement. Emergency medicine definitely is my passion along with an austere component.

I feel that you're correct, in that there will never be an easy answer; and that I will experience initial regret in my choices that I will inevitably make.

Thank you once again for taking the time to reply to this and in some way made my decision far easier.

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