What Is the Role of a Flight Nurse?
A flight nurse, also known as a transport nurse, is a registered nurse who has received additional training to offer medical treatment to patients during aircraft transportation. Flight nurses work as part of a team that typically includes flight medics, physicians, and other medical personnel to offer medical care to injured or unwell patients during emergency situations. These nurses are responsible for maintaining patient stability until the airplane reaches the appropriate healthcare facility. Flight nurses are employed in both civilian and military settings.
How to Become a Flight Nurse
Flight nurses must first complete a nursing degree and obtain their RN licensure. Apart from that, most companies require at least a few years of hands-on nursing experience, particularly in emergency or trauma settings. International travel may be required in some situations, requiring prior flight experience and a valid passport.
A typical work description for a flight or transport nurse may include the following:
- Minimum of five years’ experience in an intensive care unit, emergency department, or trauma center
- Capability to work autonomously with other team members in a small setting
- Advanced critical care understanding, including familiarity with ventilators
- Ability to maintain physical fitness in order to perform the job’s physical requirements
- Capable of working a variety of shifts, including overtime and a 24-hour on-call rotation
- Strong leadership abilities and the capacity to interact and collaborate with a diverse group of people, frequently under pressure
- Flight experience is a plus.
What Education Do Flight Nurses Need?
Flight nurses can get their nursing degree in two years through an ADN program or four years through a BSN program. They must then pass the NCLEX-RN to become licensed. Certain flight nurses find it beneficial to further their education by pursuing an MSN degree. RNs interested in pursuing a career in flight nursing are recommended to begin their careers in emergency or intensive care units to get the critical care experience necessary to pursue a career as a transport nurse.
Is it necessary to obtain any certifications or credentials?
Numerous healthcare firms want flight nurses to own a few certifications prior to hiring. The first is the Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN), which is open to licensed registered nurses with no restrictions on their licensure. While it is suggested that candidates have at least two years of flight nurse experience prior to taking the exam, it is not required. CFRN certification is valid for four years. Apart from that, flight nurses are typically expected to possess the following credentials:
- Basic Life Sustainment (BLS)
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
- Advanced Life Support for Children (PALS)
- Advanced Trauma Training for Transport Professionals (TPATC)
Until CFRN certification is obtained, certified emergency nurse (CEN) or critical care nurse (CCRN) is greatly preferred.
Where Are Flight Nurses Employed?
Flight nurses can work in either the civilian or military areas. Civilian flight nurses are typically employed by hospitals or private medical transport firms. Additionally, they may be employed by the federal government, fire departments, or groups that specialize in search and rescue activities. Military flight nurses may be stationed overseas or in the reserves.
What Is the Role of a Flight Nurse?
Flight nurses are responsible for providing efficient, high-quality treatment to patients requiring aircraft transfer. They may analyze a patient’s condition or injury and establish a strategy for providing the necessary care to safely transport the patient to his or her destination. In non-trauma situations, they may gather and maintain documentation and physician directions throughout the flight, as well as providing help to the pilot in select scenarios. Because medical airplanes are frequently used in emergency scenarios such as accidents, fires, or rescue missions, flight nurses must be able to perform first aid and ventilation treatments, assist patients in boarding the aircraft, and secure the gurney once onboard. When transport nurses arrive at the hospital or destination, they must safely unload patients and advise the receiving medical professionals on the patient’s condition.
What Are the Functions and Responsibilities of a Flight Nurse?
- Provide emergency medical care to patients requiring air evacuation, including evaluation, triage, and treatment.
- Maintain and organize patient charts and documents
- While en route to destination, administer first aid, implant IVs, perform resuscitation, and more.
- Maintain aircraft supplies and equipment
- Possibility of assisting the pilot with radio communication or other activities.
- Assist in properly loading and unloading patients from aircraft
- Ascertain that the patient is secured safely onboard.
- Keep an eye on vital indicators
- Effective communication with team members and patients
Salary and Employment Opportunities for Flight Nurses
Annual salaries for flight nurses range between $50,161 and $95,605. This type of nurse earns a median yearly pay of $68,050. Salary ranges vary according on area, experience, and type of employment.
With nursing as a rising sector in general, the employment prognosis for flight nurses is favorable. While this type of profession does not have a high turnover rate, new private companies are emerging and seeking to hire nurses in the field. Transport nursing is a good fit for nurses who appreciate delivering emergency treatment and prefer a more dynamic work atmosphere than a hospital or medical office.