Do you want to help save lives in emergency medical situations? Have you ever considered becoming a flight nurse?
Flight nurses are responsible for providing airborne, pre-hospital paramedic, emergency, and critical care nursing – this begins the moment you arrive at the patient’s location, until you get to the hospital. These registered nurses work as part of a team and play a major role during medical evacuation and rescue operations aboard airplanes and helicopters.
The flight nurse is a sub-specialty of trauma or emergency care and requires the same set of skills; however, they also must be knowledgeable of more aggressive patient care methods. Large trauma hospitals commonly have flight crews that respond to accidents, natural and man-made disasters with the aim of stabilizing, and transporting critically injured or ill patients situated in remote locations that ambulances could not respond to.
Flight nurses work with their team en route to their destinations, and the care they provide can include starting intravenous lines, providing first aid, administering medications or performing CPR.
How to Become a Flight Nurse
While there is no direct flight nursing degree, those who wish to obtain this position can follow a reasonable educational and professional track, provided they can prove themselves. Most flight nurses earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN), at the least, or a Master of Science in Nursing degree (MSN). Extensive experience in emergency nursing or critical care is a must; this will give aspiring flight nurses the know-how required to effectively manage various medical situations, whether they are caring for patients with mild conditions or life-threatening traumas.
As a general rule, the more education, training, experience and certifications related to critical and emergency care you obtain, the better your chances when competing for a flight nurse job.
Important Qualities for Flight Nurses
Communication Skills – A flight nurse must possess the ability to effectively obtain the required information in order to provide appropriate and timely patient care. He or she will work with a small flight crew and must be able to relay relevant and urgent information to the team.
Critical Thinking – Flight nurses and their team are solely responsible for their patients’ wellbeing. They have no other medical staff to rely on and, if necessary (as is often the case), they must provide medical care themselves. They need to be able to make split-second, life-changing decisions based on sound judgment borne of experience and knowledge and attention to the care and safety of their patients.
Compassion ¬– Flight nurses are often the ones witnessing a frightening time in their patients’ lives, and it is necessary for them to communicate with patients and provide reassurance and keep them calm.
Emotional Stability – Flight nurses often find themselves in emergency situations and must be able to cope with the stresses that come with the job.
Flight Nurse Licenses, Certifications and Registrations
Upon completion of a state-approved nursing education and passing the NCLEX-RN, they may then obtain their registered nursing license. Aside from the valid RN license, you may be required to have many of the following training, certifications and licensure in order to become a flight nurse. Keep in mind that this list is not meant to be inclusive; you may not need all of these to attain a particular job. It is best to check your state’s or employer’s requirement as these may vary.
- Emergency Medical Services (EMS) certification/licensure (as required by state regulations)
- Mobile Intensive Care Nurse (MICN) certification/licensure
- Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers certification
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification
- Neonatal Resuscitation certification
- Disaster Management certification
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support Training
- International Trauma Life Support Training
- Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support Training
- Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)
- Certification for Adult, Pediatric and Neonatal Critical Care Nurses (CCRN)
- Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)
Advanced Trauma Courses
- Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC)
- Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS)
- Advanced Trauma Care for Nurses (ATCN)
- Transport Nurse Advanced Trauma Course (TNATC)
- TNATC Advanced Provider Course
- Advanced Trauma Course approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS)
Hazardous Material Training
- NIMS Training IS 100, 200, 700, 800