Mesa Community College Offers Paramedics Option to Become Registered Nurses Through Bridge Program

Posted on September 6, 2012 by Angela Askey

Many paramedics have the background and experience necessary to become a nurse.  Some are choosing to expand their education by enrolling in the Paramedic to Registered Nurse (RN) Bridge Program at Mesa Community College.

This tailored program allows paramedics to fast-track their education to become qualified as an RN in two to three additional semesters. By building on their existing skills, Paramedics can eliminate repeat content and coursework they have already mastered.

The Paramedic to RN Bridge Program is a nine credit spring/summer transition course that runs for 12 weeks, beginning in April. The Paramedic to Nursing Bridge Program consists of three courses that will provide paramedics with the theory and clinical competencies to successfully progress into the second or third semester of the Maricopa Nursing RN program of study.

Glenna Bayer, a Clinical Nursing faculty member explained, “We begin with teaching nursing fundamentals including patient safety, mobility, and medication administration, then rapidly progress into nursing theory and clinical focusing on care of the medical/surgical adult patient.” She added, “This is a hybrid program with most classroom work being completed online. The students participate in structured clinical experiences in local hospitals and medical centers for two days each week and meet on campus for review and testing once every two weeks.”

Of the May 2012 MCC nursing class, 15% were paramedics who received an Associate of Arts Degree in Nursing. 

Kristen Minnick, a 2012 MCC graduate, is one of the many students who has benefited by completing the program.

Prior to coming to MCC, Kristen worked as a full-time firefighter/paramedic for the City of Goodyear. She would work 48 hours and then had 96 hours off on a continuous rotation every week. Kristen did have to complete prerequisites to get into the program so she spent a year taking classes at Estrella Mountain Community College.

When asked why she chose to complete this program, Kristen explained, “The main reason I chose to complete the Paramedic to RN program was because it condensed Block One and Two from 32 weeks to 12 weeks. With this course being offered at an accelerated pace, I was able to successfully complete it over the summer of 2011 and then jump right into Block 3 in the fall semester of 2011 at MCC. This cut down the extra amount of time I would have to spend going to school as well as taking time off from my full-time job.”

Kristen was mostly drawn to the program because of the online availability. She stated, “I am a very self-motivated person and this was the perfect way for me to complete this part of the program. It helped eliminate a lot of time driving to and from school.”

There were sacrifices that Kristen had to make to accomplish her goal of becoming a RN. In addition to taking vacation time from work and trading shifts, she had a 75 mile commute, one way, from her home to her clinical site at Banner Baywood Hospital. With clinicals every Thursday and Friday, she would stay in the hotel which meant she was away from her family.

“I committed myself to staying at the Best Western Inn and Suites every Thursday night so I wouldn’t be driving back and forth so much. Also, every other Wednesday I had to be on campus for the day to take an exam and to complete lab skills. Therefore, I also stayed at the hotel on Wednesday nights to cut down on the hours I would be wasting driving. I felt like this was going to be the only way for me to make this program successfully work for me. My husband was a very big help throughout this entire program because he knew I was spending so much time studying the material and going to classes and clinicals that I wasn’t able to do my part around the house. He took over all the responsibilities around the house and was able to help me out with some of my trades at work too.”

Kristen’s paramedic training provided a strong foundation but she admits there were some nursing skills that were new. “I thought the questions on the exams were a lot harder than what I had experienced before because they were more geared to what the NCLEX exam was going to be like. Also, I had to change the way I would answer the nursing questions and learn how to study differently in the nursing program compared to when I obtained my paramedic license.”

The sacrifices and commitments have paid off for Kristen. She continues to work as a full-time firefighter/paramedic for the City of Goodyear and was recently hired for a part-time Emergency Dept RN position at West Valley Hospital.

Those Interested in the Paramedic to RN Bridge Program should attend a session specific to the Paramedic to RN Bridge Program to learn about prerequisites and requirements for admission. Sessions are scheduled for:

November 8, 2012
Time: 11am - 12pm
Where: MCC Health & Wellness Building     (Room: HW812)

January 8, 2013
Time: 3pm
Where: MCC Health & Wellness Building (Room: TBA)

March 13, 2013
Time: 5pm
Where: MCC Health & Wellness Building (Room: TBA)

Further information about the Paramedic to RN Bridge program can be obtained by contacting Glenna Bayer at 480-461-7233 or Glenna.bayer@mesacc.edu.

About Mesa Community College

Mesa Community College provides outstanding transfer and career and technical programs, workforce development, and life-long learning opportunities to residents of the East Valley area of Phoenix, Arizona. MCC excels in teaching, learning and empowering its more than 40,000 students to succeed in a local and global community.  Mesa Community College is one of ten colleges that comprise the Maricopa County Community College District.

Please direct media inquiries to Angela Askey at angela.askey@mesacc.edu or Sally Mesarosh at sally.mesarosh@mesacc.edu  or the Office of Institutional Advancement at 480-461-7445.  IA website:  www.mesacc.edu/ia.

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