While paramedics enjoy fulfilling and important careers, some emergency responders find that becoming a nurse opens more doors. An registered nurse (RN) license paves the way for a person to earn a BSN, practice different types of medicine, or become a nurse practitioner. Even those who stop taking formal coursework after earning their RN advance in their careers as shift leaders and preceptors.
Job stability and increased pay also incentivize paramedics to become RNs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average paramedic makes $33,380 per year. After completing an online paramedic-to-RN bridge program, these professionals can find jobs with an average pay of $70,000 annually. The American Nurses Association notes that the country needs 1.1 million new nurses by 2022 to avoid a worsening nursing shortage.
Best Online Paramedic to RN Bridge Programs
1. Hutchinson Community College
Experienced paramedics can work toward an associate degree in nursing through Hutchinson Community College’s fully online paramedic-to-RN bridge program. Classes start each January, with applications accepted from March to June for selection committee review. Required prerequisites include graduation from an accredited or approved program, either a Kansas EMT certification or national EMT registration, certain science and general education courses, and completion of the Kaplan Entrance Exam.
The bridge curriculum consists of 69 credit hours of nursing (of which 12 can be fulfilled by prior learning), psychology, and biology courses. Students work with their instructors to schedule their required clinical practicum hours, either at a local, contracted Hutchinson, Kansas, facility, or an approved site located near the student in the case of distance learners. Graduates of the bridge program receive an associate degree in nursing and possess the knowledge and skills required to take the NCLEX exam for state licensure, valid for RN practice throughout the U.S.
2. Mesa Community College
Program slots in the paramedic-to-RN pathway program at Mesa Community College fill on a first-come, first-served basis. Before entering the program, applicants must successfully complete the HESI A2 admission exam, a MCCD background clearance check, and possess a valid, current, unrestricted Arizona or national paramedic registry certificate with a minimum of one year’s work experience.
Students complete the nine credit components of the paramedic-to-RN bridge online, in class, and through clinical experiences. The curriculum covers core science concepts, nursing theory, and nursing processes used to meet the specific needs of adult patients and older patients. Upon completion, coursework is valid for nine months, wherein students can apply for advanced placement into the second or third semester of an RN program through one of ten Maricopa Community Colleges. Ultimately, graduates receive their associate in applied science degree and can pursue state licensure for RN practice.
3. Lorain County Community College
Prospective students of the advanced placement paramedic to registered nurse program at Lorain County Community College must be a graduate of an approved EMT-paramedic program, possess certification from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, earn a “proficient” score on the ATI TEAS exam, and submit paramedic employment verification (minimum of two years).
Paramedic-to-RN bridge program online course availability is limited and varies from one semester to the next, so students should plan for a majority of courses to take place on campus in Elyria, Ohio, or on site at local healthcare facilities for clinical practice. The 44 credit curriculum requires four semesters of study, focusing primarily on nursing concepts and in related areas such as human growth and development, biology, and pharmacology. Upon program completion, graduates earn an associate of applied science degree and become eligible to take the NCLEX examination in pursuit of RN state licensure.
Paramedic to RN Bridge Online Programs: An Overview
Every paramedic-to-RN online program is different. Before choosing a school, make sure to compare programs. Take a look at the admissions requirements and make sure you meet them, and then consider the length, curriculum, accreditation, and licensing potential of each.
Admission Requirements for an Online Paramedic to RN Bridge Program
The first requirement for any paramedic-to-RN program online is that the applicant is a licensed paramedic. While some institutions only require a license, others may require students to boast one to two years of professional experience. Due to the nature of nursing, many schools require background checks before learners can enroll in classes.
Several institutions require applicants to submit HESI EMS-ADN entrance exam scores. Applicants often need passing grades in specific core college courses, including English and mathematics. Some students with associate degrees in EMS transfer these credits.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Paramedic to RN Bridge Program?
Full-time students typically finish their programs in three semesters. These plans usually require 12-17 credits per semester. Some degree candidates choose part-time schedules so they can work while they attend classes. These learners often finish their programs in 1.5-2 years. Schools may offer accelerated schedules in which students take one or two courses at a time for eight-week terms, allowing them to finish sooner. Additionally, some programs may use cohort models. In these models, candidates follow a structured schedule and take all of their courses with the same classmates.
Paramedic-to-RN online programs sometimes issue credits by exam. Students who have learned on the job as paramedics may already possess some of the knowledge they need to become nurses. These candidates can take standardized exams to gain credit for related courses.
Example Courses for Online Paramedic-to-RN Bridge Students
- Transition to Nursing: While nurses and paramedics both provide lifesaving medical treatments, the concepts differ. These courses help emergency professionals think about medicine as a nurse and understand their new duties. In many programs, this course replaces the introduction to nursing class that non-paramedic students take.
- Pharmacology: Students in this course learn the basics of drug administration and how drugs work in the body. Students learn the ways drugs interact with one another, potential side effects, how to detect adverse reactions, and how to calculate dosages.
- Anatomy and Physiology I: This class is the first part of a two-course series that covers the muscles, bones, organs, nervous system, and sensory systems. Learners discover how the human body’s systems interact with one another, as well as what the body does to reach and maintain homeostasis. This course often has a lab component.
- Lifespan and Human Development: This course prepares students to care for patients during any life phase. Students learn about the cognitive, psychological, and physical development humans undergo from conception to death. The course also covers the way adverse events and illnesses can affect those processes.
- Professional Nursing Competencies: In this courses, students learn about the theories and research that guide nursing practices. Learners develop the critical reasoning skills they need to make decisions and create treatment plans. Many schools use a lab-based curriculum for this course rather than lecture-based. Students often complete the labs remotely.
Accredited nursing programs at all levels require in-person clinical hours which give students hands-on experience with patients. Students who live near their schools can complete their clinical requirements in the hospitals and facilities with which the nursing program partners. Students who take classes online far from their schools can arrange clinical hours with nearby medical facilities. After graduation, many hospitals and clinics require new RNs to complete a short, paid internship under supervision before beginning their jobs.
Certifications and Licenses This Program Prepares For
- Registered Nurse (RN): Graduates can take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Once learners pass the NCLEX, they become registered nurses. This procedure is the same for graduates of associate and bachelor’s programs. Nurses need this certification to legally practice in the U.S.
- AIDS Certified Registered Nurse (ACRN): Nurses who want to work with patients with infectious diseases, including HIV and AIDS, need this certification. The HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board issues the exams and certifications for this credential. Learners can find a practice test and study materials on the organization’s website.
- Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN): While not all nurses who work with children need this certification, pediatric medical facilities often prefer CPNs. The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, which issues the certification, reports that nurses who pass this exam earn an average of $7,000 more per year than their peers without the credential.
Accreditation for Online Paramedic-to-RN Bridge Programs
While accreditation is important for all higher education students, it proves especially essential for those in nursing school. Sometimes, a state board of nursing can approve a nursing program without accreditation. However, degrees from these programs can limit the possibility of career growth. For example, some certifications, RN-to-BSN programs, and RN-to-MSN schools require applicants to hold degrees from accredited nursing institutions.
Accreditation can be institutional or programmatic. Institutional accreditation applies to the whole college or university, and it can be either regional or national. Some continuing education programs require attendees to possess degrees from regionally accredited schools. Learners can search all accredited schools on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website. Programmatic accreditation applies to one area of study or a specific program, like an online paramedic-to-RN bridge program. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing oversee nursing programs.
Job and Salary Outlook
What Types of Jobs Can RNs Get?
What Types of Jobs Can RNs Get?
The BLS projects employment for registered nurses will grow 15% from 2016 to 2026, more than twice the rate of the average career. Most graduates from paramedic-to-RN bridge online programs go on to be registered nurses. Some earn their bachelor’s or master’s degrees in specialized areas of medicine. At the RN level, nurses can earn certifications and work with specific types of patients. This concentration can help professionals earn higher salaries.
Median Annual Salary: $70,000
The BLS includes all specialties in this projection. These medical professionals administer medicine, monitor vitals, keep doctors up to date on patient statistics, and perform life-saving techniques as necessary.
Median Annual Salary: $70,005
These medical professionals oversee the administrative details of a patient’s case. Nurse case managers often work in long-term care centers like nursing homes.
Median Annual Salary: $68,400
Charge nurses oversee the nurses on duty, assign patients, and help provide care as needed.
Median Annual Salary: $63,770
Nurses who receive additional training in emergency care can hold these jobs. They do triage to ensure the neediest patients get care first. They also perform lifesaving care, like CPR.
Median Annual Salary: $68,010
Becoming a nurse in the operating room requires additional training on the job or through certification. These nurses assist in operations and may specialize in areas like respiratory care, circulation, or scrub nursing.
Source: PayScale, Nov. 2018
How Much Do RNs Make?
RNs work in many different settings, including government agencies, hospitals, outpatient facilities, residential care, and schools. The table below shows the median wages for these areas of practice as projected by the BLS.
Median annual salary for one major career by employer type
|Employer Type||Median Annual Salary|
Professional organizations offer continuing education opportunities, networking opportunities, job boards, and resume services that can help RNs find jobs. Some even provide advocacy in legislative bodies.
American Nurses Association: This national organization has local chapters throughout the country. Members enjoy access to complimentary webinars, career development resources, professional news, networking opportunities, and lobbying. Nurses can also get discounts on certifications.
National League for Nursing: Nurses who join this organization receive discounts on certification, entry to the national conference, and the simulation resource center. Members also get complimentary subscriptions to several medical journals, access to grants, and networking opportunities.
Society of Pediatric Nurses: RNs who work with children in any capacity can join this organization. Members enjoy access to certifications, grants, scholarships, and a continuing education conference. The society also boasts local chapters for networking, online forums, and free webinars.
Financing Your Paramedic-to-RN Bridge Online Program
A paramedic-to-RN bridge program online serves as a wise investment. Students should start with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This online form allows degree candidates to apply for loans, grants, and scholarships. These awards can come from federal and state governments, schools, nonprofit organizations, and private companies. Some paramedics may get tuition reimbursement from their employers.
Scholarships for Paramedic-to-RN Bridge Students
Who Can Apply: Students with Hispanic heritage who enroll in healthcare programs may apply. The award can go to students in dental, nursing, and public policy.
Amount: $2,000 to $5,000
Who Can Apply: The Daughters of the American Revolution award this one-time scholarship to learners enrolled in or accepted into an accredited nursing school who show financial need. Candidates must include their acceptance letter or transcripts with their applications.
Who Can Apply: The foundation welcomes current nursing students in accredited programs with at least 3.0 GPAs to apply. Candidates should use their personal statements to demonstrate their interest in perioperative nursing. The foundation also offers grants for continuing education.
Who Can Apply: The Health Resources and Services Administration awards this scholarship to learners who enroll in accredited nursing programs. In return, the student must work in underserved areas after graduation.
Amount: Tuition and a monthly living stipend
Who Can Apply: This organization welcomes nursing students across the country to apply. Learners in any nursing program, including paramedic-to-RN associate plans, qualify without any posted GPA minimums.
Amount: $1,000 to $10,000 per academic year
Who Can Apply: Johnson & Johnson sponsors this scholarship for undergraduate nursing students in Arizona, California, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Tennessee. Applicants should show academic success and financial need. Recipients must take at least six credit hours each academic term.
Amount: $1,000 to $7,500 per academic year
Who Can Apply: Men who pursue nursing degrees can join the association and apply for this scholarship. Candidates must complete one semester before applying and attend an accredited school. The association awards two of these scholarships each year.
Who Can Apply: Graduate and undergraduate students throughout the country can apply for this scholarship. Learners must submit essays that demonstrate their passion for helping people who suffer from addiction to alcohol or drugs.
Amount: $1,000 to $6,000