Matthew Plummer, a flight paramedic with UT LIFESTAR, knew he wanted to keep increasing his earning potential, but he also didn’t want to miss important moments with his growing family.
“Pellissippi State has the Nursing Bridge program, which appealed to me because it is an accelerated pathway,” explains Matthew, who has a 3-year-old daughter and another daughter due in April. “Pellissippi State’s Nursing Bridge was the best option for me because it meant less time away from my girls.”
Pellissippi State’s Nursing Bridge program consists of 12 months (three semesters) of Nursing classes in addition to other general education course requirements. The Bridge program was developed to allow students who have already completed certifications as Licensed Practical Nurses and Emergency Medical Technicians: Paramedics to use their prior experiences to complete the program in a shorter amount of time while continuing to work at their current jobs. Bridge students graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing and the skillset necessary to sit for licensure as a Registered Nurse.
All of that made sense to Matthew, who is 28 and has worked as a paramedic for nine years, the last five on medical helicopters.
“I knew I wanted to do something exciting and adventurous that would also allow me to help people and go do things that not everybody else gets to do,” says Matthew, who started out as a junior member of the Townsend Area Volunteer Fire Department before he even graduated from Heritage High School.
Pellissippi State’s Nursing Bridge program was a good fit for Matthew because he could do 100% of his prerequisite courses online. Tennessee Reconnect, which provides free tuition for adults who don’t have a college degree, sweetened the deal.
“What a huge help that was,” Matthew says of Tennessee Reconnect. “Going back to school is hard anyway, so if you can remove the stress of the financial piece, it is easier to make that decision for your family.”
Matthew continued to work full time for UT LIFESTAR throughout his time at Pellissippi State, with his employers willing to work his schedule around his Nursing classes and clinicals, and they are excited to continue to work with him as a nurse, he says.
“Paramedics and nurses are apples and oranges because they do really different jobs,” Matthew notes. “Pellissippi State has given me a brand-new perspective, as nurses are learning about patient care over a continuum while paramedics are focused on keeping patients alive for the next 15 minutes and getting them to the hospital.”
The Nursing program is rigorous, he stresses, and can feel overwhelming at times. But Matthew stuck with it, graduating Dec. 10, 2021.
“Just take it one day at a time, and the next thing you know, you’re 10 days out from graduation!”