Career Path – Paramedic or Nurse?

I’m currently in my 4th year of kinesiology at Dalhousie University. This should be a time of celebration because I am almost finished my hard-earned degree. Yet because of the fact that a kinesiology degree can only take a person so far, I am considering more school after I graduate. I’ve ruled out the typical career choices of Kine grads, which would be being a personal trainer or going on to do a masters in physiotherapy or occupational therapy. I really want to work in the health care field, so naturally my mind wandered to nursing. Its a stable career with good prospects and good money. For the last year my mind has been almost 99% made up that I was going to be a nurse. But there has always been that lingering 1% that was unsure if that was the path for me.

Recently it has been brought to my attention that the only thing I seem to talk about when I talk about nursing is money. I suppose it was the only thing that made me excited. That seems so wrong to me. The same person in question told me “Ever since you mentioned it to me years ago, I always thought you should be a paramedic”.

Five years ago, before I came to Halifax for kinesiology, I had been in Ottawa doing another program at Carleton. I realized that wasn’t the right program for me, but I was stuck as to what to go into. I had 3 things narrowed down

1) gym teacher

2) nurse

3) paramedic

I couldn’t pick between nurse or paramedic. My first choice was paramedic. I’ve always loved learning first aid and helping people (which is why I’ve been a lifeguard for 7 years). But I’ve never actually had a real emergency. I’m not sure if I could handle blood, guts, gore and death. While nursing is not free from those things, they don’t probably happen to the same degree as being the first on the scene. I was too scared to take the plunge. But then again, nursing just didn’t seem right either. So I settled on kinesiology with the plan to go onto teachers college.

Now it seems I am back full circle. My kinesiology degree will have prepared me well for either career. The same doubts plague me. Nursing still doesn’t seem right, I can’t put it on my finger on it. Paramedicine scares the crap out of me, but it’s that fear that attracts me to it strangely enough.

Am I too sensitive to be a paramedic? How will I respond to car crash victims, children who have been abused, suicide, lonely elderly people who died without anyone, drunks or a decaying body? Not to mention crowds, hysteric families, hysteric patients, mothers and fathers of deceased children, children of deceased parents. It all seems so hard. Why do I even want to do it? I want to help. While most of the job is not spend dealing with traumatic injuries, at some point I will intervene on someone who has. Then all of my education and skills will come into play to save that person. Just the thought of that gives me a surge of adrenaline that makes me want to send in my application right away. It’s what I have spent 7 years as a lifeguard ready for.

What will I do when it actually happens? Will I be able to separate my life from my job? What about when I have a husband and a family? Will I burn out? So much of me wants to overcome my fears and have the courage to go for it.

This is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.


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