How do I change careers from nurse to paramedic

Discover what’s required to get off the ward and on-the-road when switching from your role as a nurse to become a paramedic. If you’re keen to stay in medicine but are looking for a little more freedom and autonomy in your role, a career change to become a paramedic could be the right choice for you.

Nurse to paramedic: What’s the difference?

As a nurse, it goes without saying that you have a whole range of skills and qualities that could help you have a successful career as a paramedic. However, although both roles focus on patient care as an absolute priority, the jobs of nurses and paramedics are quite different.

  • On the ward to on-the-road

Nurses are typically required to work within contained environments, hospitals, medical facilities, while paramedics are on-the-road and are often the first to arrive at a range of different emergency scenes throughout the day.

  • Longer term care to quick decisions

One of the biggest differences when switching from a nurse to a paramedic is moving from providing holistic care to a group of patients within a team of doctors and other medical staff, to quickly assessing the medical state of a patient and making snap decisions to provide essential, and often life-saving, care as a paramedic.

While this can be demanding, the satisfaction of playing such an important, pivotal role in someone else’s recovery is what makes being a paramedic so rewarding.


RPL pathway to transition from a nurse to paramedic

It’s worth noting that to become a paramedic, you are required to hold a Bachelor of Paramedical Science or equivalent degree. With all your qualifications and experience as a nurse, you could use recognition of prior learning (RPL) to help you achieve your goal of becoming a paramedic quicker.

There are a few ways that Australian Paramedical College can help with this. Here’s what a transition pathway from being a nurse to becoming a paramedic could look like:


Nurse to paramedic

Step 1: RPL into diploma
Apply for RPL and/or credit transfer into the HLT51020 – Diploma of Emergency Health Care) with APC.

This is a cost-effective way to transition into the pre-hospital emergency healthcare system, without committing to a university degree. Making a tentative step into emergency care in the private sector has been a successful approach for many people. Doing it this way means you can continue to work while you study, the financial investment is not as big as university and the transition into pre-hospital care is cheaper and quicker.

Step 2: Diploma to degree
Use Diploma of Emergency Health Care to acquire course credit towards the Bachelor of Paramedical Science. This could reduce the time you need to spend at university.

Step 3: Graduate and become paramedic
Complete the degree and apply for a position with a State Ambulance Service or work in the private sector as a paramedic.


Nurse to private sector medic

Step 1: RPL into diploma
RPL existing RN qualifications and experience, and complete the essential bridging units of competency to gain the HLT51020 – Diploma of Emergency Health Care. Graduate with a diploma.

Step 2: Start work as a medic
Work as a life support medic in the private sector (event medic, mining, oil and gas, community, etc).

Find out more about paramedic career pathways

Hear from students transitioning from nursing

Renata May
Frances Fleming
Wendy Donohue

Ready to learn more?

Take a closer look at our courses and have a chat to one of our friendly Course Advisors to find out how APC can help you create that amazing career you’ve always dreamed of.