Medical professionals face life and death situations on a daily basis but to a varying degree. Some fields are more exposed to critical cases which can make their shifts more action-packed than others like Flight Nursing.
If this is what you’re interested in, becoming a flight nurse is something you should consider.
What is a Flight Nurse?
Also referred to as transport nurses, flight nurses are not resident nurses on regular commercial flights as the name might suggest to those who are clueless. They got their name because they’re the medical professionals that come with patients who need to be transported through aeromedical evacuations. These nurses are highly trained and capable of providing medical care aboard an aircraft, so they’re called as such.
Simply put, flight nurses are medical professionals who are trained to handle emergency situations in unstable conditions. They handle urgent cases, make crucial life-and-death decisions, and provide ample pre-hospital and emergency critical care while in-flight.
Nurses who work with patients in remote areas can also be sometimes referred to or serve as flight or transport nurses.
What They Do
Flight nurses perform a wide range of tasks to provide the necessary medical care needed by their patient. They usually perform the following tasks and more:
- plan and execute aeromedical evacuation missions,
- provide immediate care to trauma victims,
- ensure patient safety and comfort while being transferred from one hospital to another,
- evaluate emergency in-flight needs of patients,
- perform emergency treatment and advanced medical procedures in the absence of a Flight Physician, and liaison between aircrews and support personnel to ensure patient comfort.
Qualified to perform a comprehensive pre-hospital, emergency critical care, flight nurses are trained to save lives at the most critical times.
Where They Work
Flight nurses are hired by various institutions and organizations. They often work for hospitals, trauma centers, emergency service providers, search and rescue volunteer organizations, and other medical facilities. The government also often enlist them as well for disaster teams and the military. Airlines and the private sectors also have a number of flight nurses on their payroll.
In terms of their actual workplaces, flight nurses often do their actual work in aircrafts. No matter where or what it is, though, they’re often in very tense work environments.
How Much They Make
According to experts, flight nurses can make about $60,000 and above annually. On an average, they make $30/hr. The job can also come with good benefits.
What Can You Expect in Being a Flight Nurse?
The first thing that you can expect from being a flight nurse is a high-stress work environment. You’ll face lots of critical cases in this line of work, so you have to be ready for that.
Before you become one, you’ll already get a good taste of how intense things can be like in this area. It’s a highly competitive field so you might face a number of challenges while trying to get certified or landing a job as a flight nurse.
The pay can be very competitive as well, depending on where you intend to work. The benefits can be good, too, but like other jobs, it’s not all the same.
You should also expect the work to be physical, mentally, and emotionally taxing. It’s best to try to learn everything you can about this line of work before even intending to be one as it’s just not for everyone.
It’s intense and will really need you to be highly skilled and quick with everything, especially when working in the field. It’s best to know what actually happens on calls before you decide so you can assess whether it’s a job that you can love and commit to.
If you’ve decided to do it, though, expect to get great job satisfaction. Getting to save lives is not something everyone can do on a daily basis. So if you’re capable enough to do it, why not give it a shot.
How to Become a Flight Nurse?
Becoming a flight nurse is not something you should decide on willy-nilly. This specialty is one of the most challenging areas in the medical field, so if there’s one thing that you need to be, it should be ready.
Adrenaline junkies who can think on their feet are the best candidates for this job as things can get rather intense often. A good dose of optimism, physical stamina, resourcefulness, and having grace under pressure can also be helpful in this line of work.
Aside from the right attitude, you also have the right training for this job. You’ll need a degree and license, for starters. Then, you’ll need at least 3 to 5 years of experience in emergency, critical care, intensive care, or mobile intensive care. Some say that a graduate degree in emergency nursing, but others don’t really require this.
Several certifications are also required to become a flight nurse. Aside from passing the Certified Flight Registered Nurse Examination, taking additional courses on neonatal resuscitation, trauma, life support, and critical care can also come in handy.
Nursing Organizations Associated with Flight Nurses
Some of the organizations that flight nurses can join are:
- The Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS)
- Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association (ASTNA)
- Aerospace Nursing Society
- The Air Medical Physician Association (AMPA)
- National Association of Air Medical Communication Specialists (NAACS)
Interested in flight nursing but can’t handle the intensity of the job? Here are similar areas that might suit you better:
- Ambulatory Care Nursing
- Critical Care Nursing
- Emergency Nursing
- Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing
- Trauma Nursing