How To Become A Flight Nurse - View Video
Nursing is such a wonderful profession. People think that nurses are primarily in hospitals, clinics, and schools. We don't think of nurses on the battlefield; in the desert or on war ships. What about critical patients that need to be air lifted out of unstable situations? Have you wondered about the personnel on board a medical helicopter or plane? I didn't give it much thought until I met someone who was a Flight Nurse.
Flight Nurses have to be able to administer quality care for patients in transport environments. They have to be able to keep a level head about them at all times when providing quality care. They must have great communications skills and customer service skills along with being physically fit. A Flight Nurse might find himself or herself in caves, ravines, on mountains, or in icy or choppy water. They may experience airlifts from natural disaster areas like fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes as well as from traffic accidents and train wrecks. The usual team in an airplane or helicopter consists of the pilot, a paramedic, and a nurse - there is no doctor, so the flight nurse must think critically about what to do towards the patient's care.
What does it take to be a Flight Nurse?
- A Bachelors Degree in Nursing is preferred.
- Have your license as a Registered Nurse (RN).
- You need a minimum of 3 years of critical care experience in an Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Critical Care Unit (CCU), but the number of years required may change.
- Flight Nurses must possess certain certifications - PHLS (Pre-Hospital Life Support), BCLS (Basic Cardiac Life Support), ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), PALS, (Pediatric Advanced Life Support), NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation Program), CEN (Certified Emergency Nurse), CFRN (Certified Flight Registered Nurse), CCRN (Certified Critical Care Nurse), TNATC (Transport Nurse Advanced Trauma Course), ABLS (Advanced Burn Life Support). Check out the Networks listed below that offer these certifications.
- Other pertinent training is the Emergency Nurse Pediatric Course and Trauma Nurse Core Course.
- Vital training is that of knowing how to open airways which is critical to preventing respiratory failure in patients. Flight Nurses must, on an annual basis, participate in airway labs and are familiar with opening airways in all age groups of patients. Flight Nurses will be trained and skilled in rapid sequence oral intubation (airway management technique), needle chest thoracentesis (knowing the chest anatomically in order to insert a needle for a catheter), placement of surgical airways, pericardialcentesis (using a needle and catheter to remove fluid from the sac that surrounds the heart), and intraosseous needle placement (to provide emergency vascular access on a child when peripheral access is not possible).
- Having Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Parametic experience is a great plus.
- Have a valid passport. You might find yourself on an international flight.
- Being fluent in several languages is also a great plus.
- Because of weight restrictions allowed on an aircraft, A Flight Nurse's body weight will be restricted to a certain limit.
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University
Who May Hire Flight Nurses?
There are a wide range of organizations, groups, and individuals that employ Flight Nurses.
- Hospitals - public and private
- Medical Travel Service Companies
- Air Ambulance Companies
- Cruise Ships
- Medical Emergency Disaster Crews
- Medical Supply Companies needing inventory management while transporting medical supplies
- Search & Rescue Agencies
- Individuals and groups who need medical assistance when flying
Flight Nurse Programs
Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing
Emergency Nurses Association
Association of Air Medical Services
The U.S. has different requirements and certifications for becoming a Flight Nurse. Also, other countries have their own requirements for becoming a Flight Nurse. You may also receive Flight Nurse training in the Military and be part of the aeromedical evacuation crew. The median salary for a Flight Nurse, according to salary websites, is $66,128 annually. If you are looking for a not so easy, but rewarding career, be a Flight Nurse - your patients will love you for it.