Best Online Paramedic-to-Registered Nurse (RN) Bridge Programs

by NurseJournal Staff

Online bridge programs are an affordable, convenient way for paramedics to transition to the nursing field. Learn more by exploring our list of the best online paramedic-to-RN programs.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Paramedics looking to transition into nursing careers can finish a paramedic-to-nurse bridge program in three semesters or less. The incentives for paramedics to become RNs include increased pay, job stability, and the potential to earn a bachelor's or graduate degree in nursing. In 2019, paramedics made an annual average salary of $38,830, while RNs earned an average of $77,460, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Flexible online learning allows paramedics to continue working while studying. Programs tend to keep any required on-campus attendance to a minimum, and might offer a variety of course formats. Asynchronous class materials can be accessed 24/7, but synchronous classes require logging in at scheduled times.

Courses include lifespan and human development, pharmacology, professional nursing competencies, and transition to nursing. Distance learners can often complete in-person clinical internships at healthcare facilities in their communities.

Paramedics have often completed much of the education and training included in the paramedic-to-RN curriculum, and some programs offer credit by examination.

Featured Online Programs

Applying to an Online Paramedic-to-RN Bridge Program

Common admission requirements for paramedic-to-RN bridge programs include a high school diploma or passing the General Educational Development (GED) Test; a paramedic license with 1-2 years of experience; core college coursework in English, the sciences, and mathematics; Test of Essential Academic Skills, Health Education Systems Incorporated Exam, or Kaplan exam scores; and a criminal background check.

Graduates can earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) and become eligible to take the National Council Licensure Exam as well as apply for their RN licenses. Licensed ADN holders can enter the workforce as entry-level RNs.

An ADN also serves as a stepping stone to a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), master of science in nursing (MSN), or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) -- all pathways to advanced-level nursing careers. Bridge programs for RNs can lead to these higher degrees, including RN-to-BSN, RN-to-MSN, and, at some nursing schools, RN-to-DNP.

Explore the Best Online Paramedic-to-RN Bridge Programs and School Info

Hutchinson Community College true View School Profile Hutchinson, KS

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.

Mesa Community College true View School Profile Mesa, AZ

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.

Lorain County Community College true View School Profile Elyria, OH

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

true What are the best nursing specialties for paramedics who want to become an RN?

Emergency nursing is a seamless choice for a paramedic-to-nurse transition. However, paramedics who want a less stressful, slower paced work environment might consider RN specialty areas such as geriatrics, home healthcare, oncology, and pediatrics. These concentrations allow RNs to work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, physicians' offices, and long-term care facilities.

How long does it take to complete a paramedic-to-RN bridge program?

Program timeframes vary according to a student's enrollment status, available transfer credits, the program's instructional delivery format (cohort or self-paced), and required clinical hours. Full-time learners can complete paramedic-to-RN bridge degree programs in three semesters, and accelerated tracks allow an even quicker path to graduation. Paramedics who continue working and study part time can finish in 18-24 months.

Is a paramedic-to-RN bridge program more affordable?

Bridge programs save students money by shortening the timeline to earning a degree, particularly those that offer full-time or accelerated study. Online programs typically impose lower tuition rates that often equal in-state tuition regardless of residency. Distance learners also avoid commuting costs, campus-based fees like parking, and potentially pricier collegetown housing.

What is accreditation and why is it important?

Prospective nursing students should ensure that the programs they apply to hold accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Accreditation signifies that the program undergoes regular review to comply with high academic standards, licensing requirements, and eligibility for government loans and grants.

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