What is A Flight Nurse?
A flight nurse is also known as a transport nurse who is responsible to keep patients stable until the aircraft reaches the hospital. Flight nurses offer emergency medical care to those who are ill or injured during aircraft transportations. In order to work as a flight, nurse you will have to first work in the intensive care unit as a registered nurse. There are various types of flight nurses, you can either be a military flight nurse which includes being an air force flight nurse, Navy flight nurse, army flight nurse etc.
The job of a flight nurse is quite challenging. In some organization, you will need at least 5 years of prior experience as a registered nurse and you should have a bachelor’s degree. Flight nurses work in the military as well.
As a flight nurse, you will have to work alongside flight physicians, flight medics, and other health-care providers. You will learn all about vasoactive medications, hemodynamic support, and mechanical ventilation in order to take care of patients during a flight. You will either have to work directly for a hospital or for medical transport companies.
How to Become A Flight Nurse?
In order to serve as a flight nurse, you will first have to become a registered nurse. You will have to complete your bachelor of science in nursing and you will have to complete an associate’s degree or a diploma. Obtain a nursing license by completing the National Council Licensure test. For this, you will have to meet the licensing requirements of your state. You will have to attain a minimum of 3 to 5 years of ICU/ER experience.
To become a flight nurse you will have to brush your communication skills in order to communicate effectively with your teammates and the patients. As you will have to communicate and coordinate with patients and others during critical situations. You will need to have critical thinking skills to evaluate the patient’s vitals and make sure that you have attention to details when working with patient’s medication dosage. You will also need basic knowledge of navigation to become a flight nurse.
You can become a CFRN (Certified Flight Registered Nurse) from the board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) in order to become a Flight nurse. If you want to know more about it then visit https://www.bcencertifications.org/Get-Certified/CFRN.aspx
If you want to become an air force, navy or army flight nurse then you will have to join the military. If a job that offers you adrenaline rush attracts you then you should be a flight nurse. This job offers you challenges in every step. You will have to care for the ill and injured and them these patients travel from one place to another to receive treatment.
Flight Nurse Job Description
The flight nurse works with one or more patients as a part of a team. The team is made up of physicians, nurses, paramedics and other nurse practitioners. The team has to work with the equipment available immediately around them in the aircraft or helicopter. Teams work together in order to attain the pace of work needed within the confines of the aircraft. It is important to make decisions and take actions promptly during an emergency situation.
There are some responsibilities of being a flight nurse, some of the responsibilities are listed below –
- One has to prepare the patient to be transported via air.
- The patient has to be secured so that they don’t move around while in flight.
- The nurse has to provide the patient with the required nursing care so that the patient feels comfortable during the transportation.
- The nurse has to perform the duties needed to keep the patient’s vitals stable.
- The nurse will have to help in transporting the patient from the aircraft to the ambulance and then to the emergency room.
The main aim of the air care flight nurse should be to keep the patient stable during the journey. The flight nurse will also have to help regular patients travel from one place to another. They will have to accompany the patient while they are in the aircraft. For example, patients who receive heart transplant are assisted by the flight nurses when they are transported to the facility where the surgery will take place.
The responsibility levels of the flight nurses depend on the availability of the other medics and physicians on the aircraft. For example, if there is no physician available on the flight, then the nurse will have to communicate with the physicians on the ground who will guide the nurse to take specific actions.
The critical care flight nurse will have to be experienced in intensive care and emergency care activities that include the following –
- The nurse should know how to use equipment that will help in resuscitating the patient in case the patient stops breathing or when the heart stops working.
- The nurse should be able to keep the patient stabilized during the transportation.
- The nurse should assist in administrating fluids
- The nurse should be able to stop bleeding, cleaning wounds and stabilizing fractures.
- The nurse will have to assess the patient’s condition during life-threatening situations such as seizures and heart attacks.
- The nurse will have to keep track of the actions of the team and the condition of the patient. This will help the receiving team to go on with the treatment.
- The nurse will also have to keep a record of the supplies that have been used so that the supplies can be restocked for the next flight.
Let us now understand these duties in detail –
In order to make sure that all the patients are provided with good care the flight nurse has to perform various tasks some of the tasks are already mentioned above, let’s now understand the responsibilities of a flight nurse more closely.
1. Patient Care
The critical care flight nurse jobs expect the nurse to provide comprehensive patient care. The nurse should have knowledge about various emergency care procedures. They must be autonomous as they have to provide intensive care during flights away from other physicians. They will have to take the vitals of the patient and keep a record of the treatment procedures being carried out on the aircraft.
2. Follow Protocols
The nurse will have to follow clinical and in-flight protocols which include –
- Sticking to clinical policies, organizational standards, and principles of patient care.
- Taking care of general procedures like HIPPA standards and other patient confidentialities.
- The flight nurse will have to perform all the pilot assistance duties which include assisting with liftoff checklist, dispatching flights and navigation.
3. Record Patient Vitals
As a flight nurse, you will have to monitor and record the patient’s condition and response to the treatment. This will ensure smooth transportation of the patient.
4. Prepare the Patient
You will have to prepare the patient for the receiving unit. As a flight nurse, you will have to make sure that the patient is transferred effectively. You will have to communicate about the patient’s condition and treatment with the receiving facility in order to make sure that the patient’s treatment is taken care of.
The flight nurse has to operate in various types conditions apart from the normal hospital settings. They have to operate in tornadoes and hurricanes, they respond to car accidents and help people who are trapped during earthquakes they respond to individuals trapped in flood etc.
Types Of Flight Nurse
There are various types of flight nurses, some of those types are listed below –
1. Civilian Flight Nurse
- These Nurses work for various hospitals, private medical evacuation firms, local government hospitals, fire departments and other such agencies.
2. Military Flight Nurse
- They work in army evacuation service
- Airforce evacuation service
- They work in intra-theatre and inter theatre flights
- They plan and make aeromedical evacuation missions
- They make patient care facilitation plans.
3. Life Flight Nurses
How Much Do Flight Nurses Make
As per payscale.com, a Flight nurse’s median salary is $66,271 and it may vary depending on factors such as credentials, experience, and location of the individual. The industry of nursing is booming with time and this means that the wages of the nurses are going to increase as time passes.
As per PayScale salary survey, the earnings of flight nurses in the US is around $30.14 on an hourly basis.
Flight Nurses receive medical benefits and dental coverage along with other benefits. Most of these flight nurses love their work and their job satisfaction is very high as they have to keep on their toes and work in challenging situations. Flight nurses earn a high income when compared with other nursing fields.
As per PayScale, an entry-level flight nurse earns an average of $61,000 whereas a nurse with mid-career experience earns an average amount of $65,000. Whereas, an experienced flight nurse makes an average of $81,000 and those nurses who have more than 20 years of experience in flight nursing earn around an average of $83,000.
Job growth and salary statistics are not covered by BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics). As you have to first be a Registered nurse in order to become a Flight nurse you can check out the salary statistics of Registered nurses. A registered nurse is the closest category to Flight nurse that has been covered by the BLS.
So, if you want a career that is filled with thrills and challenges then go ahead and become a Flight nurse. This job will need you to be physically and mentally fit so that you can attend to the needs of the patients. The job needs you to be on your feet at all times. So wait no more and work to get qualified to be a flight nurse. Being a flight nurse will not only help you fly from one place to another but will also help you take care of serious patients. This job will help you grow in your career by presenting you with new challenges every time. Become a civil flight nurse or a military flight nurse to heighten the adrenaline rush you experience.
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