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Paramedic or Nurse: Which Career Suits You?

Nov 24, 2020 | Paramedic

Planning a career in healthcare? One of the questions most students ask themselves is whether to choose paramedic or nurse. Which path in emergency services should you pursue?  

Both the fields share similarities and yet are strikingly different in various area. Whether you choose to become a paramedic or nurse, you will be on the frontline of patient care and will be working in a high-pressure situation.   

Employees in both professions are characterized as someone who can quickly analyze a condition and symptom and interpret the patient’s condition. So how do these professions differ and which one suits your aspirations?  

Paramedic or Nurse – The Training   

The training level for paramedics and nurses are different. The skill level required for nurses is more concentrated on within the hospital, while paramedics are trained for emergency medical care on the site.   

Paramedics assess the immediate crisis and are not required to provide follow-up care, of which nurses are responsible. The training reflects a significant difference in pre-and post-hospital care.   

Training to become a Nurse in Ontario  

Nursing and paramedics are both regulated professions in Ontario. Nurses can opt for a two-year associate’s degree program for entry-level opportunities as a registered or licensed practical nurse (RPN/LPN). A four-year bachelor’s degree prepares students to work as a Registered Nurse (RN) in Ontario.   

Nurses are required to study chemistry, anatomy, microbiology, nutrition, physiology and psychology, in addition to their other nursing courses. During training as student nurses, they take experience in maternity, trauma, surgery, paediatrics, and psychiatric departments.  

Training to become a Paramedic in Ontario  

To become a Primary Care Paramedic in Ontario, one should attend a recognized two-year program or can opt for a fast-track paramedic training program and have to clear Advanced Emergency Medical Care Assistant (A-EMCA) certification exam.   

Paramedic students also study anatomy and physiology, also need hands-on-training for advanced life support for adults and infants and trauma life support. The training is of shorter duration but rigorous for paramedics.  

Average Salary for Paramedic and Nurse


The average salary for registered nurses in Canada is $37.60/hour. Within the profession, one can obtain specialized training that leads to a higher salary:  

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Average Salary: $189,488 per year   
  • Nurse Practitioner Average Salary: $108, 084 per year   
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist Average Salary: $85,785 per year   
  • Neonatal Nurse Average Salary: $80,126 per year  

Source: Neuvoo, Canada  

Primary Care Paramedic  

The average pay base for Primary Care Paramedics in Canada is $85,000 per year. Within the profession, one can obtain specialized training that leads to a higher salary:  

  • Critical Care Paramedics Salary: $124,000 per year  
  • Advanced Care Paramedics Salary: $116,000 per year  
  • Firefighter Paramedic Salary: $126,000 per year  

Average salaries as suggested by the source Glassdoor, Canada  

Whilst paramedic and nurse careers are different, the qualities for good candidates are common. Both work on the frontlines of healthcare and need specialized training to provide patient care. Some of the key qualities a Paramedic or Nurse should have included:  

  • Strong communications skills are critical for healthcare professionals. Ability to communicate effectively with patients, family members and co-workers will help one provide safer care.   
  • Paramedics and nurses work under immense pressure and attend multiple patients in a day. Strong attention to detail is a must-have personality trait as it will help them act quickly and provide high-quality patient care.  
  • Problem-solving skills are essential for healthcare providers. Paramedics act in a fast-moving environment and are often responsible for saving lives. Nurses have the most one-on-one patient interaction and are responsible for individual care. Both professionals need to think quick on their feet and provide creative solutions to handle any issue which can cause adverse outcomes.   
  • Physical strength is a must for both professionals as the job includes lifting and adjusting patients and have to be on the feet for most of the shifts. A unique physical and emotional stamina will help you cut down on job stress.   
  • Willingness to learn is a good trait for any career, however with technological advancements in the healthcare industry, one should be able to learn and adapt as required. It is an important quality for career advancement.   

Jobs in healthcare are bound to grow, and demand for both nurses and paramedics is increasing. If you like helping people and enjoy serving the community, you can’t go wrong with either of careers.   

Want to know more? Visit our Primary Care Paramedic program page for more information or book an appointment to discuss your options with our subject matter experts.

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