When I introduce myself to the people who take our courses, I say “My name is Jason, and I am the oddball of the bunch”. I thought I’d share the story of my journey to becoming a nurse practitioner. When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I am not sure where I came up with that idea. After graduation, I attended the local community college and quickly learned that I was not a very good student. At the time I was valet parking cars at a hospital and struck up a conversation with a paramedic. I thought to myself, that sounds fun, I think I’ll do that. I dropped out of school and began my journey to being a paramedic.
I started paramedic school in January of 2000 and graduated in August of the same year. I will never forget how proud I was. I had a sharp red paramedic patch on my sleeve, it was really cool. I figured out pretty quickly that in order to make a living as a paramedic, I would need to be a firefighter. I then embarked on trying to find a fire department job. In July of 2001, I was hired by a fire department in north texas, started fire academy in August, and starting work in November. Most of the calls we made were medical calls, which I really enjoyed. The schedule I worked was 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off. Almost all firefighters do something on the side and I chose to be a paramedic instructor. I did that for several years and later went on to be a paramedic tech in the ER.
Somewhere around 2008, with the birth of my second child, a CRNA performed my wife’s epidural. I had never heard of a CRNA before, and when I started researching it, I was hooked. Cardiology and airway were the things that I love most about being a paramedic. A few of the guys at the fire department were also interested in being a nurse and one of them found a paramedic to RN bridge course. We needed a few prerequisites, so we got those out of the way and started nursing school in January of 2012. I entered nursing school only with the intention of being a CRNA. Well, somewhere along the line, I started looking at the requirements to be accepted into CRNA school. Now I had 3 young children, a wife, a full time job, you know all adult type stuff. When I found out that as a CRNA student, I could not work, that idea quickly went by the wayside.
I finished nursing school in December of 2012, starting working ER shifts on my days off from the FD. A few of the nurses that I worked with were attending NP school and I started looking into it. I was really excited when I discovered that I could work and go to school at the same time. While at the fire station, during my down time, I would be able to work on my school work. I completed my BSN and prepared to start NP school.
My NP program was about 20 months of didactic and 12 months of clinical. The didactic portion was not terrible. I did all of it at the fire station. The clinicals on the other hand, that was a different story. It was like working another job for free. I was so very lucky to have the best preceptors. They were very flexible with my schedule. And my family was so supportive during the whole process. I graduated in December of 2017 and started working in urgent care in January of 2018. By this time, I had 18 years of experience as a paramedic. I had done CPR and intubated patients in every possible setting that you could think of. I had seen every type of traumatic injury possible. None of that could have prepared me for a 2 year old with an ear infection.
So, that is my story. I am still working full time as a firefighter, 24 on and 48 off. I work part time as an NP in urgent care and teach with PPE every other month. My journey has been very rewarding, I love what I do and I wouldn’t change any of it.