Does saving lives give you an absolute adrenalin rush? Do you love being the one in charge? Then flight nursing might be perfect for you!
What is Flight Nursing? Flight nurses transport unstable trauma or medical patients in critical condition, either in helicopters or fixed-wing planes, for military or civilian entities. Their expected skill level far exceeds that of typical ED nurses.
What do flight nurses do on scene? They may need to perform physician-level procedures to save lives in the air. Their training is extensive and gains them respect.
On arrival to an accident, the flight nurse typically takes charge of the scene. They utilize ground support to assure optimal stabilization and then quickly transport.
What special skills would I need? The flight nurse is a one-man-show in the air. You are responsible for every aspect of patient survival. Per established protocols, you will administer medications, perform ACLS, and other first aid procedures to get the patient to hospital alive.
You may even have to insert femoral lines or chest tubes in flight – once you are qualified.
Where do flight nurses work? They typically work out of hospital emergency departments, trauma centers, fire departments, search & rescue outfits, or independent med-evac companies. Military flight nurses are generally stationed in war zones.
How will I know if I would like this field? A few years working in a busy emergency department or large ICU will give you a great education and enough experience to know if you want to remain in emergency nursing. A few life flight trips, as an observer, will cinch it for you.
How much do flight nurses get paid? One website (nursetheory.com) reported $55,000-$85,000. (payscale.com) reports pay as high as $94,858/yr which includes bonuses. This could vary significantly according to many factors.
How do I become a flight nurse? Once you have your nursing degree, and have a few years experience working in critical care, you can earn your advanced degree in emergency nursing.
When you are ready, you can sit for the Certified Flight Registered Nurse Examination. Be sure to get trained and certified in as many aspects of flight nursing as possible.
This might include earning your Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN), Certified Critical Care Nurse (CCRN), and Paramedic (EMT-P). Also keep your ACLS current, study Air-Medical Crew National Standard Curriculum, and take an Altitude Physiology Course.
You also want to take these courses: Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC), Basic Trauma Life Support (BTLS), Pre-Hospital Advanced Life Support (PHALS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Neonatal Resuscitation Course (NRS), and Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD).
For military personnel, it is the same – plus there is additional, specialized, military training required.
Retention rate in this field is high and turnover is low. So, be patient, and use your great networking skills to get an inside track for the next opening.
Keep your body in shape and have healthy, fun, outlets outside the job to keep your balance for the long haul.
If your heart thrills to save lives at all costs, then flight nursing might be just right for you!