The Career of a Flight Nurse

 The career of a flight nurse is a wonderful opportunity for those wanting to do something unique in the nursing industry. It is in a lot of ways a combination of different components of several careers available in the nursing field. Flight Nurses are “highly trained registered nurses that normally have experience in not only advanced life support but also critical care” (“Nursing Jobs and Degrees – Flight Nurse” n. d. ).

They have to be able to react to numerous situations and therefore they need the combined skills of an intensive care nurse, emergency nurse and a critical care nurse to be able to respond properly (“Nursing Jobs and Degrees – Flight Nurse” n. d. ). According to the Nursing Spectrum the career of a flight nurse “involves emergency and non-emergency air/surface transport of ill and injured patients. This includes inter-facility transport and emergency “scene calls” for trauma and medical emergencies” (“Nursing Spectrum” 2004).

The job description varies depending on the location of the job but usually involves very challenging work with high level of acuity and a diverse patient population (Nursing Spectrum). According to the Flight Nurse profile on “Nursing Jobs and Degrees” (n. d. ) many flight nurses perform responsibilities such as: – Checking, monitoring and inventory management of medical supplies on planes. – Researching, studying and attending training on emergency response, treating individuals without hospital backup and managing emergency issues in flight.

– Traveling to disaster areas to support emergency response teams. – Flying and traveling with private individuals or groups of individuals that require medical attention or the ability to have medical attention at all times. – Performing all necessary emergency and non-emergency medical procedure while in flight or at the scene of disasters and emergencies. – Training in emergency response and preparedness. Coordinating training and workshops for others. The base salary of a flight nurse ranges from $55,239 – $68,851 (“Salary Wizard” (n.c. )).

Benefits vary depending on the employer and the location of employment. However, according to “Salary Wizard” (n. d. ) the median amount for a flight nurse employed in Tennessee is as follows: In addition, locations such as Mountain State Health Alliance offer extras such as on-site childcare, tuition reimbursement, continuing education, discounts, and pre-tax spending accounts (msha. com). There are many different areas where flight nurses can be employed.

According to “Nursing Jobs and Degrees” (n. d. ) “some work on medical emergency teams that reach critically ill patients in remote areas and treat them while airlifting the patient to a healthcare facility. Other flight nurses work with teams that land at disaster sites such as car accidents, tornados, earthquakes, and fly the seriously injured to hospital trauma centers. They perform the necessary, specialized intensive care while transporting their critically injured or ill patients by plane or helicopter to the appropriate health care facility”. Also, opportunities can be found in public and private transport companies and the military (“Nursing Spectrum” 2004).

Since many different employers need the expertise of a flight nurse, the opportunities for employment are pretty consistent. Locally there are three different medical helicopter services that employee flight nurses: Wings Air Rescue operated by Mountain States Health Alliance, Wellmont 1 & 2 operated by Wellmont Health Systems, and Med flight operated by Virginia State Police. The education requirements for a flight nurse consist of an RN and Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification (ACLS) and usually Pediatric Advanced Life Support certification (PALS) (“Nursing Spectrum” 2004).

There is often additional training and certification required by employers and the state. For example, Mountain State Health Alliance, in accordance with the State of Tennessee, requires flight nurses to enroll in an EMT training course within 12 months of employment and obtain certification as EMT as well as obtaining advanced nursing certification within 12 months of employment through one of the programs: Certified Emergency Nurse, Critical Care Registered Nurse, Institutional Critical Care Course, or Certified Flight Nurse (“Flight Nurse Requirements” n. d. ).The Tennessee Department of Health (2007) states that: “In the state of Tennessee a flight nurse must have and maintain training in an Advanced Trauma Life support, Flight Nurse Advance Trauma Care course, Basic Trauma Life Support, Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support course, or Trauma Nurse Care Core, or obtain training within six months of employment and restrict flight duty by accompanying another trained provider until so trained” (“Rules of Tennessee Department of Health.. ” 2007).

Many employers also often require a nurse to have 3 to 5 years critical care experience and be in excellent physical condition before becoming a flight nurse (“Nursing Spectrum” 2004). Some of the drawbacks that potential flight nurses need to consider is that it can be very physically demanding work part of the time while having to perform many mundane and routine tasks during the “quiet” times (“Nursing Spectrum” 2004). A flight nurse has to be able to really perform well under pressure, be able to deal with a lot of stressful situations, and work well as a team player if they want to succeed in this line of work.

If a person likes more of a predictable and routine job or doesn’t like getting in harms way then this job isn’t for them. A flight nurse is daily being thrown into dangerous situations that can cause potential harm for themselves in order to save the lives of victims that might not have made it otherwise. The career of a flight nurse is a fast-paced rewarding opportunity that if taken advantage of can enrich lives in so many different ways.

References Flight Nurse Requirements (n. d. ). Retrieved April 8, 2008, from http://www. msha. com/body_sibling02. cfm? id=750 Nursing Jobs and Degrees – Flight Nurse (n. d. ). Retrieved April 4, 2008, from http://www. jobprofiles. org/heaflightnurse. htm Nursing Spectrum (2004). Retrieved April 8, 2008, from http://www. nursingspectrum. com/StudentsCorner/CareersInNursing/CareerAlternatives/FN. htm Salary Wizard – Staff Nurse – RN – Flight Transport (n. d. ). Retrieved April 8, 2008, from Salary. com. Rules of the Tennessee Department of Health Bureau of Health Licensure and Regulation Division of Medical Service(2007, December). Retrieved April 8, 2008, from http://www. state. tn. us/sos/rules/1200/1200-12/1200-12-01. pdf

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