Q: How can I use my RN degree to become an expedition medic?

Q: I am a nursing student and I have always dreamed of traveling with science and humanitarian expeditions and, as a future nurse, it may be possible. My question to you is, how can I use my RN degree to become an expedition medic? Is it possible as a nurse to contract myself out or apply for jobs as the medic on a science team exploring who knows what? Any advice and information would be fantastic!

A: I suspect being an RN will open doors not open to many EMS practitioners.  Getting EMS training (Basic good; Paramedic much better) is still a good idea though, because you will get a level of practical training not provided in most RN programs.  Becoming a nurse practitioner would be a great additional upgrade because on top of everything else you would have prescription writing capabilities.

The Wilderness Medical Society is a good place to start to make some contacts.  Don’t be bashful about going to organizations that do things you know something about.  In the beginning most opportunities will be as a volunteer.  Once you develop a positive reputation, people may come looking for you.

2 comments on “Q: How can I use my RN degree to become an expedition medic?

  1. Brian Webster Brian Webster

    Being an RN, I have to tell you the door is wide open for humanitarian nursing in remote regions of the world. Having said that, just because your an RN doesn’t mean your qualified to practice in austere environments. As Dr. Johnson mentioned, a solid foundation in pre-hospital practices is a definite must (Especially if your team gets into trouble and your the only provider). My road to expedition medicine led me to acquire my WALS, WEMT, CEN, CPEN certifications in addition to my nursing degree (I’m also in FNP school). If you have any questions you can contact me any time at .
    Best of luck on your journey!


  2. John Martin John Martin

    The RN training track leads you down a path of a clean sterile well equipment treatment environment. Expedidition or back country medicine requires the skills and confidence to work in places that are not clean, well lite and with the equipment you can carry on your back. First take your RN degree and work in a high volume ER in the inner city and while doing that complete training as a paramedic.
    Then after 2-3 years in the ER and pre-hospital paramedicine take a job in a rural/remote area in need of good practitioners and begin looking for an expedition adventure.
    Good Luck and Be Safe…John

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