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Specialties in nursing: A closer look flight nursing

Stockbyte | ThinkStock

Stockbyte | ThinkStock

No matter how busy and exciting a day in the life of a nurse can be, it’s easy to get burnt out when you feel like you’re doing the same sorts of things over and over again. But instead of letting yourself get so burnt out that you daydream about leaving the nursing profession all together, why not consider pursuing a career in one of the many interesting nursing specialities at your disposal?

The Nerdy Nurse recently did a profile on flight nursing, one of the most exciting and different specialty choices for nurses. Read on for details…

What do flight nurses do?

Flight nurses (also known as aero-medical nurses) play a critical role in patient care in some of the most emergent situations possible. They provide life supporting care while a patient is transported from medical facility to medical facility or in some cases, from the scene of an accident to a trauma center.

A flight nurse will work alongside a flight paramedic to deliver advanced critical care. They follow strict guidelines and established life saving protocols, processes and techniques. These nurses play a primary role in direct patient care and are responsible for a continual patient assessment. During the flight they may initiate IVs, apply splints, administer medications and any other number of procedures that he or she deems appropriate for the situation.

They operate with a great deal of autonomy, but must work well in conjunction with a teammate since every flight nurse is paired with a paramedic.

Requirements to become a flight nurse

While requirements vary from state to state and company to company, the basis for flight nursing is critical care experience. This, of course, includes emergency room and ICU.

Life Flight indicates the following qualifications for RNs who are interested in flight nursing:

  • Minimum of five (5) years of ICU/ED/Trauma experience within the last ten (10) years.
  • Previous flight experience preferred.
  • Flight experience can be substituted year for year for the ICU/ED/Trauma requirement.
  • Current licensure and/or certification as listed below: Must obtain certification as a CFRN within one year of hire.
    • RN license as appropriate to assigned location
    • Basic Life Support (BLS) certification
    • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
    • Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) or Basic Trauma Life Support (BTLS) certification
    • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) or Pediatric Pre-Hospital (PEPP) certification
    • Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) certification
    • Trauma Nurse Advanced Trauma Course (TNATC) or Trauma Nursing Core Curriculum (TNCC) certification. Must have successfully completed the TNATC course prior to assuming independent duties; thereafter either TNATC or TNCC (or equivalent) must be current
    • Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) or Critical Care Nurse (CCRN) until certified as a Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)
  • Completion of Department of Transportation Air Medical Curriculum within six months of hire.
  • Complies with weight restrictions (maximum 250 pounds fully outfitted to perform the job).
  • Strong leadership skills and ability to communicate and work with a variety of people one-on-one and in large groups, often in highly stressful situations.
  • Ability to work varied shifts and cover fixed wing call shifts.

Salary for a flight nurse

As with any nursing career, your expected salary will vary based upon your previous experience. However, flight nursing is an extremely competitive industry so if you are pursuing this career, do not bid yourself out of a position as there are many other nurses who are eager to fill your spot.

The salary for flight nurses varies from state to state and it is also influenced by your proximity to larger cities. In the United States the average estimated salary for a flight nurse ranges from $65,000 – $70,000 per year. More information on salary ranges and state specific amounts can be found at Flight Nurse HQ.

To read more, including who should consider flight nursing and insight from a nurse currently doing the job, head on over to The Nerdy Nurse. Then, in the comments below, tell us if you or anyone you know currently works in this speciality and your favorite things about the gig.

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The Nerdy Nurse

Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN, also known as The Nerdy Nurse, is a Clinical Informatics Specialist practicing in Georgia. In her day job she gets to do what she loves every day: Combine technology and healthcare to improve patient outcomes. She can best be described as a patient, nurse and technology advocate, and has a passion for using technology to innovate, improve and simplify lives, especially in healthcare. Brittney blogs about nursing issues, technology, healthcare, parenting and various lifestyle topics at thenerdynurse.com
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