How to Make the EMT to Nurse Transition

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If you are wondering how to make the EMT-to-nurse transition, it may be easier than you think. With a firm foundation in healthcare, becoming a nurse is a natural transition and has many benefits, including advancement opportunities, great salaries, and the opportunity to be more involved with patients.

Marian ABSN student working with a simulation manikin

If you’re an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) looking to change career paths, don’t feel bad — you’re not alone. Studies show that, on average, EMTs contemplate an occupational change after eight years on the job. With the healthcare experience gained during your time as an EMT, you may have thought about pivoting to a career elsewhere within the healthcare field. With nursing as a prominent career option and Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) programs making it possible to earn a BSN on an accelerated timeline, have you ever wondered about how to make the EMT-to-nurse transition? If so, Marian University’s ABSN program could be a viable option for the next step in your career.

Explore Your Nursing Potential

If you find yourself standing at a career crossroads, you should view this time as an opportunity to explore your nursing potential. EMTs and registered nurses (RNs) share a similar focus in the work they do. You’ve likely interacted with nurses, so you may be familiar with what’s involved in a nursing career. Taking a minor detour by returning to school to earn a nursing degree and obtaining your RN licensure could be well worth it.

If you have obligations that make nursing school seem like a roadblock, don’t let that stop you from moving forward. With the right nursing program and academic history, your life doesn’t have to come to a complete halt. Take, for example, our second-degree Accelerated BSN program.

Marian ABSN student using stethoscope on a sim manikin

Our accredited ABSN program combines a rigorous blend of online and onsite curriculum so that qualified individuals can earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing in as few as 16 months. While the program itself is rigorous, its accelerated nature makes it accessible for you to make the EMT-to-nurse transition.

How Former EMT Christian Sua Unlocked His Potential as a Nurse

Former EMT Christian Sua enrolled in our ABSN program after realizing his passion for patient care would be better fulfilled as a nurse. Christian’s EMT-to-RN epiphany came following a chance encounter with a man he had previously provided EMT services to. The man, a former combat medic, told Christian, “You have a gift. What you are doing is phenomenal. Don’t ever stop what you’re doing. You have a certain air about you that made me trust you. Not everyone has that.”

Christian also found himself inspired by the nurses who cared for him before and after his multiple shoulder surgeries. He had been moved by all the work and responsibility they were given in different settings and decided to pursue a nursing career to reach his full potential.

Two Marian nursing students working with syringe above text that reads what nursing means

Nurses are an essential component of any healthcare team. If you want to learn more about why nursing is such a fulfilling career, see what it means to be a nurse.

Leverage Your EMT Experience

While the online portion of our program will build your nursing theory knowledge and clinical competencies, you will have a certain level of familiarity with some of the basic hands-on curriculum covered during the skills labs. Performing patient assessments, checking vitals, and starting intravenous lines will be similar to some of the tasks you may have performed as an EMT. You also know how to stay calm in high-pressure situations. In other words, your EMT experience can give you an edge throughout the program as you continue to focus on advanced areas of nursing such as pharmacology and pathophysiology.

Your experience as an EMT should also serve you well during your clinical rotations. Because you’ve treated individuals with all kinds of ailments and in all types of scenarios, you should be prepared to transition into assisting with patient care inside a hospital or clinic setting. Furthermore, you should know how RNs and other medical staff work together in treating patients, having witnessed it firsthand. As you listen to the professionals around you, you can build on your knowledge and gain the firsthand experience necessary to become a practicing nurse.

Just remember, while the skillsets of EMTs and RNs somewhat overlap, each occupation has a different approach and philosophy to patient care. Therefore, while in nursing school, it’s best to always defer to what your clinical instructors and/or preceptors tell you rather than revert back to what you did as an EMT. After all, if your goal is to become a nurse, you must start thinking like one.

Nursing Benefits

When compared with the EMT profession, the field of nursing provides higher salaries, more job diversity, and better advancement opportunities. According to, the average salary for EMTs in the US is $37,950, whereas RNs in the U.S. have an average salary of $82,230. Nurses are also needed in a wide variety of settings from hospitals and doctor’s offices to insurance companies. Along with this job diversity come more opportunities to advance in your career, especially with a BSN and advanced nursing degrees.

Personal gain aside, many EMTs find that helping people is what really drives them. As a nurse, you’ll get to spend more time with patients and become more involved with their overall healthcare — rather than treating symptoms and performing diagnostic tests from inside an ambulance. So, while your time serving the public as an EMT may be rewarding, a nursing career allows you to take the patient care experience to the next level.

four Marian ABSN students smiling in hallway

Demand for Nurses

The current nursing shortage across the country has created a high demand for EMT-to-RN candidates in various areas of nursing, such as emergency, acute, outpatient, and convalescent care. Nurses are needed now more than ever because the aging population of baby boomers requires more care and many current nurses are retiring.

Aside from the personal satisfaction of being a nurse, by shifting careers from an EMT-to-RN, you will be helping to alleviate this shortage and provide care to those in need. Another thing to keep in mind: because the current demand for nurses is high, the likelihood of you finding open positions in areas of interest is also high.

Preventative Care

EMT work provides an outstanding foundation for becoming a registered nurse, a field of employment that exhibits strong growth potential for years to come. This growth stems from a higher emphasis on preventive care, more people suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes, and the baby-boomer population living longer than previous generations and thus requiring more healthcare services.

If you would like to help your patients prevent issues before they start, rather than just treating them on the way to the hospital, nursing would be a great career for you. As a nurse, you also get to develop more personal relationships with your patients and often can see the outcome, which isn’t always the case when working as an EMT.


While this isn’t the sole reason why most people decide to pursue nursing, the salary for RNs can help to provide a comfortable life for you and your family. This is especially true for RNs with bachelor’s degrees, as they can also pursue a master’s level education and become advanced practice nurses such as nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives — among the highest paying careers in nursing.

smiling ABSN student

Job Diversity and Advancement Opportunities

Choosing a career in nursing allows you both lateral and upward mobility. Whether considering specialties or types of facilities, nurses experience a wide range of both job diversity and advancement opportunities.

While many nurses do decide to work in hospitals, nursing positions are not limited to this setting. Nurses can be found in outpatient clinics, nursing homes, schools, or even insurance companies. And, as previously mentioned, if you pursue further education to become an advanced practice nurse, you’ll be able to advance even more in your career. No matter your personal strengths or areas of interest, you’ll be sure to find a nursing career that suits you.

Furthermore, our local hospital partnerships (St. Vincent in Indianapolis, Saint Thomas Health in Nashville, and various facilities across the Oklahoma City area) give our students the opportunity to experience quality clinical rotations and network with professionals in these top-tier facilities. While this is not a guarantee, many students receive job offers from connections they have made during their clinicals, so it is important to make a good impression, especially in a facility or specialty area that you enjoy.

text reads 23 nursing jobs beyond the hospital

If you want to learn more about the diversity in the field of nursing, check out our top 23 suggestions for nursing positions outside of the hospital.

Ready to Change Your Career?

With more knowledge of how to make the EMT-to-nurse transition, if you think this sounds like a great career move, please contact our admissions team. Our dedicated advisors are readily available to discuss the ins and outs of our second-degree ABSN program in Indianapolis, Nashville, or Oklahoma City.