Big Girl-Big Decisions

Well it was a big day for Kalissa…she is so happy and so sad frustrated and so glad and so anxious and so well…everything.

Kalissa graduated at semester.  Originally she was hoping to get into the nursing program but there wasn’t room and she didn’t make the cut to get into the program this January.  So…she decided to go to paramedic school instead.  That starts in July.  Things were going to be nip and tuck and she has to have her EMT certification before she can do onto paramedic.

She found out today that things would be easier and that in fact things wouldn’t be so tight and getting to the paramedic program would be much easier.  Great news right???

She also found out that she was accepted into the nursing program for fall.

What is a girl to do…paramedic…nursing?  Now Kalissa works as a CNA at a local nursing home.  She doesn’t mind it.  If she continues to work there, they would pay for some of the schooling…only problem.  The nursing school is 20 minutes down the road.  Staying in NE Iowa when all her friends are moving away is a complete drag.  Living with mom and dad would be even worse.

What’s a girl to do??

Going to be a paramedic would mean big town…college kids…new and exciting things to see do and experience.  Paramedics also make very little money compared to nurses.

What’s a girl to do???  Nursing…paramedic.  Paramedic…nursing.  Small town…big city.  Good pay…not so great pay.  Get help with college tuition….not so much help.

Feel free on chiming in with some advice.  She’s in the market for some.

45 thoughts on “Big Girl-Big Decisions”

  1. Kalissa, if nursing was your first choice, than I suggest you stick with that. Since you get tuition assistance, and the pay/job openings are better, it’s better for your future. Staying “home” isn’t that big a deal, though, since most colleges have lots of activities for commuter students. You will have a taste of the away life, without the extra student loans. See if you can have early admission for some of the gen ed classes, to take during the summer, or online. Getting some credits ahead will help. Then, when you have your license, you can move anywhere to work! And you can always visit your away friends during weekends. Most of all, enjoy your experience, and go with your passion. Good luck!

  2. Get her EMT certicate, then maybe be able to work some while going to nursing school. Staying or leaving is a personal choice. There is a shortage of nurses in larger towns, so she might have a better chance at a good job.

  3. Think long term. It isn’t just about what she wants to do for the next year, but what she wants to do forever. Getting some of the gen ed requirements out of the way until then sounds like a great plan. Still, lots of great choices. What a great place to be.

  4. Pick the one that you know is in your ‘heart of hearts.’ If you love nursing more, then do it. If you want to be an EMT, do that. If you love them equally then I would suggest nursing. If some one is willing to help pay for college then take advantage of it. Living with your mom and dad for a short period of time is not a bad thing. Think of it this way – it will be less that you would have to repay in college loans. You can always have a big city experience once you graduate and land your dream job. EMT’s on the other hand are always being cut from the city governments even though they are critical resources. You may get your college experience but may have to live with mom and dad after college because you cannot to afford to live on your own AND repay your college loan.

  5. Your nursing degree will get you a job anywhere in the country…paramedics, not so much. Nursing has flexible hours that can work around a family’s schedule. It was your first love…do it!

  6. I’m a nurse in the UK and have never regreted it, even now when the job I was doing was really stressful and I’ve walked away from it. In the UK and I presume the US is similar nursing presents opportunities for promotion and increased payment so I would say go for nursing every time.

  7. I also say go with the nursing. College is only temporary and she can then move to whatever city/town she wants to. Although there are some hot paramedics. Still stay with nursing.

  8. Go with Nursing! I have been an RN for 42 years, you can go in many directions with a nursing degree, hospital, community, school, military. An advanced degree could make you a NP or allow you to teach in a college. Paramedic does not give you many options.

  9. Congrats on getting accepted into both programs. My advice would be to go for the nursing degree. That sounds like it was in your heart first. You will never have to wonder ‘what if I had gone into nursing?’ My son is a little behind you in age and he is trying to decided whether to enlist in the Army or go to college first. I’m encouraging him to get his degree first. I was trying to explain that at your age, the college years may feel like an eternity. But, as you get older (I’m the same age as your Mom!) that four years will feel like the blink of an eye. It sounds kinda corny, but it’ so true. So, if you have to say home for four years, it won’t seem like THAT much time later in life. Best wishes to you in whatever you choose!

  10. Go with nursing… then get a year or two experience and you can be a travel nurse and work all over the country and make good money doing it. I am an RN and never regreted nursing as my career choice. There are so many opportunities now for nurses. One other suggestion is get your BSN, it may take longer and cost more but in the long run you will have more career choices.

  11. Follow your heart, but I will say, nursing is getting very specialized and in MN they are hiring 4 year and more for R.N., The two year degree is on the oust. So, find your school and see what generals they will accept for you to take on line, and get your feet wet, while keeping tuition down. Registered nurses are specializing in emergency rooms, surgery, Dr. offices, etc. Triage nurses would be just as exciting as EMT’s I would think. Staying at home? Well, sure does help as far as dorm costs,, or rooming costs. Well, and your Mom cooks – win win in my book.

  12. Think long term: you have soooo many possibilities with nursing and helping ppl is fine and dandy, but a good income will help you and your family. You can still go to the big city and work in a hospital there when you are a RN. Good luck with your decision!

  13. Go to nursing school; your career opportunities are wide & almost unlimited, & will stay that way the rest of your working life. Being a paramedic is exciting, but physically way more intensive (keep your whole life in mind).
    Living at home may feel like a drag, but you will save plenty of money, plus make money at your CNA job & they might pay for some of your schooling?? Two thumbs up.
    You will be able to move away & have all sorts of adventures later (travelling RN’s make really good money)
    I encourage you strongly to go to nursing school. <3

  14. For one, right now there’s SEVERE shortage of graduating nurses to replace all the baby boomer ones that are retiring. Secondly, nursing is certainly where the better money is. And a traveling nurse can make major bucks.

    I’d recommend your daughter talk to a few nurses and paramedics to get an opinion about the jobs’ pay, job satisfaction, etc. It never hurts to know what people in the field think of their jobs.

  15. Pat C in Washingon

    Nursing. My sister has been a nurse for over 20 years at a major hospital in the Seattle area, and I’m sure she would agree with me. She had two small children under the age of 7 and had to work part time when she went to nursing school, so it was a challenge for her. You will NEVER want for a job as a full-fledged nurse. A little bit of a struggle on the front end to get to be a nurse will be well worth it in the long run. I don’t believe there is any area of the country where there is NOT a shortage of nurses. Whether you go into the hospital setting, or clinic work, if you get your nursing degree there will be many doors open for you. Go for it!

  16. I think nursing is the way to go, if I was your Mom I would hope that you would decide on it. The demand for nurse’s is higher and you can go any direction with this position down the road. I would recommend that you think about your long term goals and not so much about the short term goals. Good Luck!

  17. I used to work at a college where they offered both nursing and paramedic programs. By far the hardest to get into and the most popular was nursing. If you got accepted, I would take the classes because you may not get in next time and have to wait a long time. The majority of people that took the paramedics courses were doing it to “pump up” their resume for something else, like firefighter, so it was not a career for them just an extra skill set. Good luck in your decision making :)

  18. Even though there’s a lot of things that might be more tempting in the EMT education, I’d really, really go with the nursing program. If you think about it…it *was* easier to get into the EMT program…so if you change your mind while you’re in the nursing program, the opportunity to get back to EMT will always be there. Be proud that you were accepted and go into the nursing program!

  19. My sympathies goes out to you, Jo. My dd got 1st degree as vet tech at local tech school only to find out 2 years later that none of her credits would transfer to out-of-state vet schools. She married, had a baby, then went back for RN degree. 10 years later, she’s back in school (she now has Bachelor’s Degree) working to obtain Master’s equivalent-don’t know how to spell it but it’s the person who puts you to sleep, like for surgery. Locally is certainly NOT the top pay area but EMS pays about 1/2 of what RNs earn. Once Kalissa has her RN, she would have the choice of doctor’s office, nursing home or hospital work, ER/Trauma, emergency flight nurse like from accident site to trauma center, or even as a traveling nurse to other hospitals as a “fill-in” nurse where needed, or through “home care”, lots of choices – not “having to settle” for something because of lack of training. And 2 years is NOT long at all when you consider difference in future choices and student loan debt.

    Becky in upstate SC

  20. Ditto on what everyone has said. I am a RN, I didn’t get my RN till I was 40, bc things got in my way, DH, 3 kids etc…. It was a lot of wasted $$$$ if you ask me, bc for yrs I wasn’t making the RN salary and wasrobbing peter to pay paul !!! The money a nurse makes is not to be frowned on. Paramedics hardly know anything compared to a nurse. Yes If i am in an accident I want a paramedic, but if I’m sick I want an RN! (w my Dr)
    You can do both. get the paramedic, and go to school in the fall, some of those credits might transfer.
    The cost of living is expensive, you may need the income of the paramedic to get you through RN school. Any College courses you take fro the paramedics can be transfered too the RN program
    Also why can’t you take some of the OTHER courses you will also need to get your RN, or even towards your BSN. Like English Social Studies, the sciences! start getting them out of the way. There are ways to get what you want.

  21. I totally agree w/ Maryellen( your 1 st response) . As a retired RN I reccomend nsg. It pays much better which is very important, you can travel, and it is rewarding! Also w/ a BSN you can do almost anything! Go with your heart!

  22. Retired now from working in a teaching hospital operating room assisting doctors with ALL types of surgeries including organ transplants. Never a hum-drum day, and it is INSIDE work. Put up with a few “inconveniences” early on (they really don’t last long), and you will enjoy a great life full of possibilities you can’t even imagine right now. Best wishes, no matter what you decide on!


  23. I have always been so sorry that I didn’t follow my first dream- thirty -five years later I am still sorry- -If nursing is your first interest, that is maybe where your heart is….

  24. absolutely go with nursing.
    When it gets right down to it there’s only 1 month’s difference in the starting time of the paramedic’s and the nursing courses, but there’s a whole lot of difference on the other end when it comes to job opportunities, salary, perks, travel, etc.

    By rights, you should also talk to students who are living off-campus about their experiences with room mates, transportation problems, geting to and from class, eating rah-mein noodles 5 times a week, etc. i remember going thru that, my daughter also went thru that when she was first on her own.
    there are downsides to living in a dorm as well; things like not getting a good night’s sleep, having your roommate eat your food, or not cleaning up after themselves, loud music at 3 am, etc. College life is not all peaches and cream. It’s expensive and the homesickness can really be severe at times. So unless you are used to living away from home for extended periods (like months during Summer, etc) you would be better to stay at home in the beginning of your education.

    one other important thing to look at is to check the college’s rate of students who graduate in 4 years, and see how many students dropped out. you might be surprized to see that many of the graduates took 5 or even 6 years to graduate. Those extra years add up money-wise, so the smartest thing to do is to minimize the external pressures on yourself so that you can concentrate on your studies. The less you have to do or be responsible for outside of class besides your homework, the more successful you’ll be in college. Best Wishes, Kalissa!

  25. Nursing.
    She can go for EMT/paramedic certification after that, if she finds that emergency medicine is to her liking.
    However, I encourage her to consider a program that will mean living on campus, away from home. Maybe get 2 yrs at the place 20 miles away and apply for a university program?

  26. Three daughter’s three nurses. I worked as a nurse for 20 yrs and never regretted it. My youngest daughter swore she would not be a nurse got a degree in computer technology then gave birth to a son with congenital heart defects . After seeing the nicu/picu nurses work with him she knew what her calling was and is now an RN/BSN. Nursing is a for sure job for the rest of your life. And the rewards are wonderful. GO FOR IT ! ! !

  27. Congrats on all the acceptance letters!!! Would you rather work a 24 hour shift or an 8-12 hour shift? Might not matter too much while she is single, but married with kids…different story! Also depends on what kind of medicine she is interested in…blood in the street trauma or something else. Seems to me that there are more options in nursing – doctor’s office, clinics, hospitals (oh so many choices there!). Pay isn’t always a factor, what will give you the most satisfaction is more important. Also, how long can you be a paramedic physically with having to lift people onto the gurney and the gurney into the ambulance? I would think a career as a nurse would be easier to continue for many years past what your body would let you do as a paramedic. Make lists – pros and cons for each and see which side is heavier on the pro side. Geez, can you tell I used to teach high school?? What a lovely dilemma to have!!!

  28. I agree with Maryellen (1st response). Go with your first thought/love, nursing. If you can avoid college loans…do it! You’ll regret the loans hanging over your head at the end. While money isn’t everything it sure helps to be able to make it if you need it to support a family someday. Do try to take some of the general classes between now and the Fall. It will give you an idea of what is expected at college AND give you a bit of a break during a later semester/quarter. Plan to go for a weekend to visit friends at college. Or go now and visit your brother!

  29. Nursing – My daughter is a nurse, the variety, the acceptance around the world (for traveling)
    the money and the ability to work your choice of shifts. Our pup is a psychiatric nurse, she works on a permanent casual basis and night shifts. She has never been out of work in 20 odd years, unless by choice, and has worked in all states here in Australia. She doesn’t do general nursing but has done a lot of psycho-geriatric nursing.
    Good luck in your choice.

  30. Nursing – new friends can be made whilst training. Living in the family home is comforting. Old friends can be visited for a mini-break at little or no cost for accommodation. Great prospects. All round winner.

  31. Nursing. She will always, always have a job. And she can travel and do all of that and make lots and lots of money when she finally has her nursing degree.

  32. Congratulations on having done so well to be offered so many choices!
    Now go somewhere where you can be very still & quiet. Sit and think about how you see yourself at each of the next decades. How do you want your life to look at 30? 40? 50? etc.
    Which choice offers the most potential to answer those plans? Go with that one.
    Personally I think, no college loans means no lingering debt which is no bad thing. If you budget right, that could allow you to get ahead in ways that your college chums will envy one day.
    Mind you, yours is not my life. Only you can decide what you want to do with your life, that is what it is to be an adult. Just make sure you give it the respectful time to decide then don’t regret those choices.
    Best of luck whatever you decide, you have loads of people wishing you well.
    Lush x

  33. Nursing! Now! If you wait until you have been out of school, or put it off to work for a while, it will be more difficult. Get in the program and get started because it takes a while. My daughter is nearing the end of getting her Bachelor’s in Nursing. It’s been stressful for her without having a job to work at during the same time as going to school! The loan/money part will work itself out.

    But, ultimately, it’s what you want. If you feel that EMT is something you really want to do, then go for it. If you are only doing EMT because it’s quick, remember that a few years of education really isn’t that long in the scheme of things. The pay for nursing is so very much more and you will have a LOT more opportunities with that degree.

    Good luck!

  34. Nursing is the best way to go. My daughter went to college by working at the rest home. Now shes making big bucks at the hospital . Its worth it in the long run. Stick with the nursing they always need good nurses. You will always have a job.

  35. Actually, I would go to the paramedic college/school first then apply to nursing school. Nursing School is not easy. The paramedic school will teach her how to learn medcal information and work on a college level. I am a nurse that did it this way and it helped me to get throught the program and apply for my Masters. As a nursing instructor, I prefer students with college and medical experience. She will benefit with higher pay and positions in the future.

  36. I suggest going with the nursing degree because (1) it’s what you preferred, and you’ll hopefully spend many good years in your career, and (2) the pay is better. Money can’t buy everything but let’s be realistic, it can make your life a whole lot more comfortable. As others have pointed out, nurses are in demand, and you’ll be able to move once you get your degree and live somewhere else should you wish. Besides…think of all the quilting fabric you’re going to want to buy! :-)

  37. I guess, along with being left-handed, I’m backwards in other respects. Many many moons ago, I went to vocational nursing school – graduated top of my class, thrived on the stress from the ICU’s and burned out fast. Ran away and worked as a recreation director at a campground… in a rural area… where they found out about my background in nursing, and recruited me for EMT school, as a volunteer. Re-awakened my love of medicine and allowed me a compromise within myself. Remember, I said that I thrived on the stress that came working in the ICUs??? Well, the first lesson we got in EMT school was that our job was to get our patient to “definitive care” (read – hospital with appropriate care for their malady) in no worse condition than that in which we found them. And the answer to my burn-out issue came with the freedom that one line gave me to not feel personally responsible for things way beyond my control. I could get my patient to “definitive care” in “no worse condition than I found them” – hand them off, and go off to the next call, with the satisfaction that my job was done, and pretend they lived forever.

    I write all that to say, there is a place, and a need for both – I was a nurse for 8 years, and I’ve been a paramedic for 21 (having been a nurse, I was not satisfied with being “just an EMT” for long – but 90% of what one does as a paramedic is what one learns in EMT school.) Here in Texas, they are finally getting around to realizing that pre-hospital emergency care IS every bit as vital and professional as that which happens after the patient passes the ER doors. But mostly, a lot of my co-workers have used their jobs in EMS as a way to finance their nursing school – many places it’s easy to pick up a few EMS shifts in a couple of days, leaving much of your week free for school.

    And now that I have worn out knees from jumping out of the back of ambulances, I work at the hospital – so the education and experience I got from both halves of my medical career have come into play in this setting.

    I don’t know what the education requirements are for EMT in your state – but they are bound to be much less than a nursing degree. And work as an EMT, while in Nursing School, pays much better than the short-order cook job I had in the bowling alley while I was in nursing school.

    PS My nickname was given to me by my partner on the ambulance… I was trying to learn to hand piece, and could not leave it at home – but I kept bending the needles when he hit bumps in the road while I was stitching LOL

  38. Today (Friday, 1-25) as I had lunch with a friend that is a nurse another friend, also a nurse, came to our table to say hi. I asked them for their opinion on this question. We decided that as a nurse you can work 2-3 days a week and make as much as a clerical worker would working 40 hours a week. I recalled a nurse they had worked with that was able to work 2 days a week as well as home school her children.

    They pointed out that if Kalissa is an adrenalin junkie being a paramedic would suit her better than nursing unless she worked in an er or trauma unit. I thought that view was interesting.

  39. I too had a similar problem as Kalissa. I am an 18 year old and live in rural MO. All my friends had moved away, many of them going to MU. I really wanted to go, but I applied to the nursing program at my local community college. I got in for this Fall. I still live at home with my granparents, though in their basement apartment. I do wish I was able to hang out with my friends, but I know in a few years I’ll have less student loan debt, better job prospects, and I’ll be better off financially than my peers who moved away. But she should do what her heart tells her to do. It’s not going to be a good experience if the heart isn’ in it.

  40. I have two sons in college, our oldest son moved 5 1/2 hours away and is enjoying and doing well as a Biology major. Our youngest son, went his first year 5 hours away to a University, and it just wasn’t what he expected or wanted. He moved back home, and this year is attending a community college nearby and living at home. He never liked the dorm life and though he may not really like living at home, he is making some other future plans now knowing that 4 year university life isn’t always for everyone. I have quite a few friends who’s kids have done somewhat the same, after being away thier first year.

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