Flight Nurse Forum

flight nurse

What does a flight nurse do?

Registered nurses who are licensed to deliver medical care in a helicopter or plane are known as flight nurses. Flight nurses collaborate with paramedics, physicians, and other medical professionals to ensure that patients receive proper care during transport and arrive at their destination safely. Many times, they are called upon to transport patients who are seriously ill or injured to trauma centers.

These nurses are skilled in providing comprehensive pre-hospital and emergency critical care as well as hospital-level care. They can also transport patients from one facility to another. These nurses are often responsible for caring for a wide range of patient populations.

Daily Routine of a Flight Nurse

Together with their partners, flight nurses conduct daily inspections of equipment and aircraft. Daily duties can include cleaning the on-call rooms, cleaning out the office and refrigerator, washing aircraft, and checking all expiration dates of all equipment/medications.

The crew will wait for the request to be transported and then they will head out. Some programs also offer flight simulation training. Training is on-the-job.

A flight nurse does basically the same thing as an ER/ICU nurse but with a smaller area and with fewer resources.

The flight nurse must feel comfortable in all areas, be calm, and be able to think critically and quickly. The flight nurses are often required to work in extremely tight spaces and in harsh conditions. In this regard, they are ready before they go on their own, even though they may have some flight experience.

Steps to becoming a flight nurse?

These are the steps to take if you wish to become a flight nursing professional.

1. Register to become a registered nurse

To become a flight nurse, your RN must have been earned from an accredited program. Most employers also require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) minimum. The NCLEX-RN exam is also required.

2. Learn from the ICU and ER

Usually, the industry requires 3-5 years of combined ICU/ER experience. Applicants must at least have 5 years of combined ICU/ER experience.

A good starting point for flight nurses is to be familiar with basic navigation and flight.

3. Get certified

A great way to show potential employers your competence in in-flight nursing is to become a Certified Flight Registered Nurse(CFRN) through the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing.

What is the average wage for a flight nurse?

According to ZipRecruiter, it is an average salary of $81,093 per annual or $39.00/hour for flight nurses. Flight nurse salaries can range from $64,000 to $999,000, while some make upwards of $105,000 each year.

What traits are most important for a flight nurse?

While adrenaline junkie is a good thing, you also need to have complete autonomy and be willing to admit mistakes.

You should also be resourceful and able to remain calm even in chaos.

Career Outlook for Flight Nursing Staff

It’s a very competitive and hard field to get into but not impossible. To make you a qualified candidate, one must obtain the most comprehensive experience possible.

Flight Nurse Jobs

There are approximately 800 medical transport helicopters operating in the United States. They are part of hundreds of programs. You can find flight nurse positions at many universities and aviation companies operating in many communities.

AAMS.org is another site to check for openings in programs/jobs. ASTNA.org is an association of surface transport nurse associations.

Which areas in the country or the world have these flight nurse jobs?

The United States is home to the largest number of flight nurses, but programs are also available in Australia, Europe, and the Middle East. Every state in the U.S. has its own unique characteristics, but there are many places where you can apply.

What professional organizations are available to flight nurses?

The ASTNA, a remarkable organization that supports all transport nurses and professionals, has been around for 35 years. Through its commitment to safety, education, and advancement of the practice of transport nursing, the organization enhances patient care and promotes the profession. It offers support and ongoing education in this exciting area of nursing.

Why you should be a flight nurse

Many of the cases flight nurses have to deal with are tragic or extremely serious, but there are many rewarding moments that make it worthwhile.

Flight nurses fly in areas where there are very few resources for our pediatric patients. While many of the referral facilities do an outstanding job caring for children they sometimes don’t have the resources to keep them occupied.

There have been numerous times when flight nurses have to go into a referring hospital that does not have the resources necessary for advanced patient care. It is amazing to be able to come in and start medications or to provide equipment/treatments that were unavailable, and see improvements during transport.

There is no greater feeling than knowing you, as a flight nursing team, made a difference in the outcome of a patient

In essence, it’s an amazing job to be a flight nurse. To be able to make a difference in so many lives, never knowing who you might pick up to transport.

Remember, each company has a different set of requirements/qualifications. For a general helicopter transport company, you will need to have 3-5 years of experience in critical-care ED and/or ICU. AALS, PALS (or an equivalent), basic trauma courses (BTLS, TNCC, PHTLS, ETC), and sometimes NRP (depending upon the patient population served) are also required. However, some states require nurses either to have a certified paramedic or pre-hospital nurse certification. I don’t believe that it is common. If you are interested in learning more, check with the BON of your state for details about the scope of practice and requirements. Additionally, make sure to contact your state’s EMS office for any additional requirements. It is best to have a mix of ICU/CCU experience as well as high-acuity experience in ED. It’s not easy to find. The majority of flight companies provide additional training (flight safety and flight physiology classes, advanced skills as allowed by the state, etc.

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