Nurse vs Medic debate

I’ve been posting some of Sean Eddy’s paramedic memes recently, having a few laughs when I posted one about a TV Paramedic only being in EMS until he gets into medical school.  I thought is was pretty self explanatory.


This morning I see 23 comments.  How can there be 23 comments about a silly picture?

Here is the first one:

“sad…yet why true? we do more thanmost nurses in poor conditions, more than many allied health care providers, yet who wants education and a true unified body to be compensated at a higher wage?? sad when mileage is reimbursed at higher rate tan our evals and treatments, oh yeah, that we diagnose.”

I liked the comment and went on.  After all medics do do more in worse conditions than nurses.  Fact.  Mileage seems more important than our treatments. Fact.  I agree.  This seems to be a running argument between the bed pan washers and the knuckle dragging ambulance drivers: “Who is better?”

Then there was this comment:

“Nurses think they are better than medics. I hear it all the time when im working in the ED, but I enjoy what I do. We are more hands on then they will ever be.”

And from there it just goes downhill. My comments are a general response to the debate, not a direct response to those who posted on the page.

The medics found an unconscious person in a hallway. They assessed, treated, extricated and transported to local ER. At local ER the nurses turn up their noses at the medics’ “diagnosis’ of DKA and remind the ambulance drivers that they haven’t completed a lick of medical school or nursing school.  Time is wasted gathering information instead of continuing care, care started by the medics in the field without direct medical oversight.

Am I right so far?

Nurse monitoring 11 patients due to short staffing has orders for 3 of them requiring him to re-assess, draw, administer and reassess the meds making sure they do not go against possible future interventions on another floor or in another ward.  Making sure room 6 doesn’t sneak in a sandwich before surgery, room 8 needs a wound irrigated and the woman in the hallway is asking for details on her newly prescribed medication.  Dr Johnson’s hand writing is still illegible and his 3cc should actually be 3mg, confirm and administer.  Ambulance patient arrives and will need his full attention.  But first he needs to make sure the rest of his patients are cared for.

Am I right so far?


People, please.  I hate nurses as much as they hate me.  Meaning likely not at all.

Paramedics get upset for not being recognized as a profession while they’re out there breaking hearts and saving lives.  Nursing has curious roots and took a long time to reach where they are in the medical hierarchy.  We in EMS have just as curious a birth (less prostitutes but more dead people) and are well on the way to being a recognized profession within EMS.  You want it tomorrow?  I hate to break it to you, but most of the EMS professionals reading this are not educated, trained or qualified to reach the Profession status in the eyes of the medical community.

Raise the education guidelines, licensing requirements, hiring standards and maybe, just maybe we’ll be on our way.

Many medics are upset at nurses because they get the salary, benefits and opportunities for advancement that EMS lacks.  OK, hate the fact you didn’t go to nursing school, not that they did.  The pay sucked in EMS when you got in.  The opportunity for advancement in EMS was nonexistent when you got in.  It isn’t the nurse that did that, it’s us.


If the nurses don’t give you the respect you demand, try earning it.  You’d expect nothing less from them, right?


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12 thoughts on “Nurse vs Medic debate”

  1. Well spoken. Interpersonal problems can happen in any work environment, but if we don’t want to be thought of as “the knuckle dragging ambulance drivers” then we can’t have a bad encounter at the ED and paste all nurses as “the bed pan washers”. It isn’t nurses that are “Keeping Us Down”. If what we’re actually mad at is the state of EMS, then you need to do something to move it forward. Isn’t that the idea behind EMS 2.0?

  2. This is an amazingly interesting topic – One of which spurred me to write a blog to explore the real differences between the profession.  I am a 16 year paramedic who has just started nursing school.  My Blog, From Paramedic to RN: A Professional Journey ( will anthropologically explore why the nursing and associated allied health professions have an inherently higher degree of respect than EMS practitioners.  

    Feel free to tune in and follow the blog which is an FRN Affiliated Blog.  Comments and ideas are always welcome on the content!

    Erich M. Weldon, AAS.PEM, MICP

  3. As a Paramedic married to a Paramedic/RN I was appalled by some of the facebook comments.  It is a pet peeve when I hear people new to EMS that rant and rave about how much better we are than the nurse that works in the hospital.  Terms like idiot nurse and worthless nurse are hindering us and not helping.  I have been educated by my wife to the differences and because of my wife, and desire to learn, I am respected by the RNs and MDs at one of the local trauma centers.

    We can go back and forth bantering on how EMS has a skill base and Nurses do not.  They have a knowledge base we do not have and in reality we should be a good pair and compliment each other.  I know around here, from listening to the ER nurse side of the wife, most medics that are not respected are the ones that do not treat their patients when it is not a critical patient but, a patient comfort issue.  We just need to get along…

    1. Well said!  I am a 16-year medic who’s just starting nursing school.  I believe I am going to have a great deal to learn and hope to graduate with not only a better clinical understanding of patient care, but also a better comprehension of the causative factors that create this divide between prehospital personnel and other nursing and allied health professionals.

      I’m writing a blog as I go through nursing school; you’re more than welcome to follow it!

      Thank you for your post!


  4. CombatDoc hit it right on the head. Problems with individuals or even the culture of organizations (hospitals and health-care facilities) are one thing, being prejudiced against an entire profession is another. You’re not going to love every nurse, but the minute you start to make statements about EMTs or Medics being “better”, you’ve lost the argument. As CombatDoc says, these professions are meant to compliment each other and I say literally. After all, isn’t the point of what we BOTH do to care for the patient and won’t an improved interface between us as healthcare providers facilitate that care? Right? I’m right, right? Quick, someone tell my wife that that happened once! 😉

  5. I’m lucky to work with medics respected by the ED and/or friends with the nurses most of the time, so I haven’t seen much of this backbiting yet. We have a floor nurse who challenged for her medic on orientation and she says that it’s a lot tougher working without doctor oversight. Of course, she’s not an ED nurse.
    (Incidentally, I heard a medic-to-nursing student complain that they were on a student nursing shift and caught an issue on a patient’s remote heart monitor. The student supervisor didn’t respect her opinion, and the student was sure, so she went up the chain a bit. I understand the supervisor was told that the medics aren’t JUST nursing students, that they already know how to read heart rhythms, and if one of them sees a problem you need to take it seriously.)
    I think the problem is that in the larger communities there might be less opportunity to get to know and trust one another. You have the cream of the pre-hospital crop clashing with the cream of the RN crop – both of you remember so much more of the incompetents of the other group and not the good ones.

  6. I m sorry but many of these comments are a crock. I am a veteran ER nurse that has worked in urban emergency and critical settings for decades. Never wanted to be a nurse but always wanted to be a paramedic but it is IMPOSSIBLE. Paramedics hate us and do not want us in their highly exclusionary world irregardless that I am an NREMT-B and at one time worked as and Advanced EMT.I am sick and tired of the road blocks put in my way because I want to be a paramedic.I never believed in the old “I’m educated and you’re trained BS” We are supposed to be one the same team.They treat me like crap and make it virtually impossible for me to transition to a paramedic. Virtually completely absolutely impossible to get a paramedic internship assignment if you are a nurse.Like a dirty word in the paramedic community.

    1. O Taylor, that sucks! There was a recent story about nurses being offered a 2 week Paramedic bridge course to become medics and I nearly lost my lunch. I can see how some would be threatened by a nurse wanted to “slum it” with the medics. Not excusing it, I can just see it happening. Keep looking for another service and I’m sure you’ll find an agency that will welcome you. Thanks for reading and for commenting! -HM

  7. It isn’t about the person’s role, their credential, their qualifications, but the candidate themselves. I have worked with great physicians, and those who aren’t adequate. I have worked with EMTs who are incredible, and a few who aren’t suited to the work. I have worked with LPNs and RNs who are superb, and I have encountered some of those recently who hold the credential but aren’t adequately trained or emotionally suited to the communication necessary or to general practice. Health care workers are not just trained, they are born.
    Comparing our roles isn’t really constructive. We need to do the job and communicate clearly regarding our patients, throughout our ranks. Our children, our relatives, our friends, and the rest of the general public depend on it.

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