What Is A Flight Transport Nurse?
A flight transport nurse is a registered nurse who is employed to accompany patients when they are being taken from one place to another. This can include transferring patients from a helicopter or airplane to a hospital or from one hospital to another. In the case of less critical patients, a transport nurse may even be responsible for accompanying a patient on a commercial flight.
During this time in transit, the nurse will need to provide care for the patient and act quickly should an emergency arise. They may also be called upon to educate people about the dangers they may be facing when engaging in an outdoors risky activity such as skydiving or mountain climbing. They will also need to be able to carry out administrative tasks, as all nurses do.
In the case of an emergency, a transport nurse will get a patient safely from one place to another and this sometimes includes being able to stop wounds from bleeding, dealing with other illnesses and injuries and operating live saving machinery. Their main duty is to try and keep people alive until they reach their destination.
A nurse in this field will usually work in hospital or a healthcare center, though some may be employed to work in rescue centers, especially in areas where there may be a need for an air rescue. A flight nurse needs to be highly trained so this is not an entry level job. It requires many years of nursing experience and those who choose to become flight nurses will need to be level headed and ready for any emergency.
In some cases, a hospital emergency room will not be able to deal with a patient and this is where the flight nurse takes over. From the point of putting the patient on a helicopter or airplane, the flight nurse has to do everything she can to keep them alive until they reach their final destination.
Flight Transport Nurse Requirements
To become a flight transport nurse, you will need to be working as a nurse in another field. As such, your personality should suit the position, so only those who are level-headed, quick decision makers should apply. This is the kind of field where a few seconds can make a big difference, so an excellent flight nurse is one who can assess a situation and deal with it almost instantaneously.
Before becoming a flight transport nurse, you will need to qualify as an RN, and will need some experience in emergency or trauma care. You can also go on specialist courses such as the Pediatric Advanced Life Support course or get a further qualification in travel nursing.
Generally a flight nurse will hold one of the following certifications: Critical Care RN, Certified Flight RN or Certified Emergency Nurse. With all of these also come certain specializations, including:
- Civilian flight nurse – this occurs when a nurse who works for a state hospital or a private firm assists a person who is ill or injured with a normal flight. This can include a flight where the patient is incapacitated but is not in critical condition.
- Military flight nurse – a more demanding job, nurses in this field have the responsibility of attending to those who are injured during military action. They will need to help patients where possible, keep them safe and will be responsible for administering medications and supporting the physician on duty.
For those who choose to pursue this career, you will need certain skills that will come from a formal qualification. Your studies should teach you:
- Basic trauma and life support – in a situation where you have to keep someone alive on the move, you will need to know everything about life support from using a defibrillator to CPR. This could save someone’s life.
- Trauma core course – trauma is any situation where there is a potential that the patient’s life is in danger, and thus you will need to know how to slow down a critical situation so that a patient can get to a hospital. This could include stitching wounds shut, eliminating poisons or even working with tourniquets or severed limbs.
- Cardiac care – heart attacks and other heart problems happen very regularly and a nurse in the transport field needs to be able to keep the heart going until the patient can be cared for in a hospital.
- Stress debriefing – a nurse may find that they are in a situation where temperaments are high and they have to calm people down as they are being transported.
- Intensive care – this is one of the basics that allows a nurse to keep patients who are gravely ill, injured or unconscious alive.
How To Become A Flight Transport Nurse
To become a flight nurse, you will need to hold an active license as an RN and be in possession of a certificate qualifying you to work in emergency care. Only those who have worked in emergency or intensive care for four or five years should apply to this position as you will need a lot of experience to excel. A flight nurse can become certified by taking certain exams, many of which can be found on the American Association of Critical Care Nurses website. They will need to be in good physical shape and be good in emergencies.
The job does require extensive knowledge so those who decide to take it on will need to read constantly, be up to date on new technologies and advancements in their field and regularly attend courses and seminars so that they feel more comfortable treating all kinds of ailments.
To become a flight nurse, you should consider additional paramedic training as this will aid you in becoming better in emergencies and will help those who struggle to think on their feet. This kind of training will also acclimatize you to using medical support systems on the go and in conditions that are not necessarily stable. This type of job is not one where you can learn as you go. It is a fast paced environment where you will need to adapt quickly and will need a wealth of knowledge before you even start.
Online/Distance Education Programs
This is not the kind of course that can be completed online or through distance learning simply because there is so much practical knowledge that needs to be learned. For those who wish to gain just theoretical knowledge, they can complete an online course, but for real skill, they will have to become involved in a trauma ward and help in emergency situations.
Becoming a transport nurse is a field that has become more and more popular as the world has experienced more natural disasters due to global warming. Tornados, floods and hurricanes have left cities devastated and when they occur, a flight nurse needs to be on call to help those who need it. Becoming a nurse means you may need to work on disaster sites too, which is not easy to do considering your own life may be in danger.
However, this is a job that can be very rewarding and really is a calling.
A flight nurse will earn anywhere from $60 000 to $75 000 a year depending on their experience and their level of education. The rewards of this job are not in the salary however, but in the adrenaline of rescuing people from life threatening situations.
Becoming a flight nurse is not something that anyone should enter into lightly. For those who do wish to do it, having worked in trauma before will help them understand the types of situations they may have to face, but even in this they will find that some situations are horrific and intense. Even in these terrible situations, a flight nurse will have to keep a level head and keep people alive. They will have to accompany patients to the nearest hospital and be able to relate statistics about them to physicians. In some cases, they may even be called upon to stay where they have landed and help, especially when big natural disasters have rocked a city.
This kind of job choice will keep you on your feet for long periods of time and may even be traumatic. It is one where you will earn every penny of your salary twice over and you may find you don’t have much time for a personal life. However, the rewards of being able to help people, especially those in situations where they may have lost everything, are very emotionally fulfilling. Those who choose to pursue this career usually do it not for the money, but because they are committed to helping mankind. This is not a job that everyone can do. It is highly specialized and will require someone with the right character, the right willpower and the right education to do it.
If you are thinking of specializing in this field, consider everything that you will need to learn and go through before you become a flight transport nurse.