What Is A Flight/Transport Nurse?
A flight/transport nurse is a nurse who is in charge of treating patients while they are being transported from one place to another. This includes patients who are being taken from the scene of a medical emergency by ambulance or helicopter. Flight/transport nurses also work on commercial airlines in cases where critical patients need to be transported over long distances. A flight/transport nurse needs to have all of the same skills and qualifications as any other nurse, in addition to which she must be able to work well in every changing environments.
Nature Of The Work/Duties
Flight/transport nurses perform many of the same duties as normal nurses, but usually they perform these duties while on the move. According to learn4good.com, flight/transport nurses must:
- Provide care to injured patients
- Educate the public on the dangers of certain sports/professions that are carried out in the mountains or on the sea
- Work with diverse patient populations
- Act fast under pressure when the job demands it
- Carry out administrative tasks during quiet times when no patients require nursing while being transported
- Administer emergency therapy and medications at the scene of a medical emergency
- Operate healthcare machines both in static settings and while on the move
- Control bleeding and administer first aid at the scene of an emergency and while transporting the patient
As a flight/transport nurse you can be employed in the following settings: Public and Private Hospitals, Rescue Centers, Outpatient facilities, the Military and other healthcare centers. You work will be carried out:
- On board helicopters
- On board airplanes
- On board ambulances
As long as medical emergencies occur, flight/transport nurses will be able to find employment in a variety of different settings. The nature of the work is highly intensive and the hours tend to be inconvenient in that you may have to work shifts and be on call during the night. However it is an ideal job for a nurse that does not like to be tied down to one particular place. Working environments vary depending on where you are expected to be based.
Flight/Transport Nurse Requirements
There are a number of requirements that you will need to meet in order to become a flight/transport nurse. To begin with you will need to have a registered nurse license. This means completing a nursing degree of some kind. In addition you will need to gain the required amount of experience n an Emergency Room at a health care facility. Once you have gained that experience you will have to engage in additional training that will allow you to become certified as a flight/transport nurse. Hands-on experience is essential in nursing as the career requires you to work actively with patients in the field. The programs that you could complete in order to achieve this additional training include an Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certification (ACLS) program or a Pediatric Advanced Life Support Certification (PALS) program.
There are four main personality traits that flight/transport nurses should have to be effective in their jobs:
- They must be able to make life and death decisions very quickly
- They must be able to work well in teams
- They must be able to react quickly to changes in patient and environmental conditions
- They must be highly skilled communicators as they act as liaisons between themselves and the awaiting medical crews on the ground
In addition to the above the basic personality traits that all nurses should possess are also required. These include empathy and compassion in order to relate to patients who are suffering in a caring way as well as an ability to keep you head in an emergency situation and an ability to take orders from those in charge.
In order to enter most nursing programs for any nursing qualification you need to hold a high school diploma or GED. Taking subjects like biology and math in high school will be helpful. The educational requirements for becoming a flight/transport nurse are:
- You must have completed the necessary training in order to become an RN and hold an RN license.
- You must provide proof of recent training in life support systems.
- You must provide proof of experience working in emergency settings.
- You may need to possess Emergency Medical Technician-Basic or Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic certifications.
- You must then enroll in the flight nurse program.
- You have the option of becoming certified as Certified Flight Registered Nurses (CFRNs) from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). This requires you to take an exam.
The license that you need in order to become a flight/transport nurse is your RN license. To earn your RN license you will first have to graduate from an accredited RN degree program. Graduating from the program will allow you to apply for licensure to your state board of nursing. Present all necessary documentation and pay any fees required. Once your eligibility to become licensed is confirmed, you can write the NCLEX-RN examination which is administered by Pearson VUE for a fee of $200. This is a computer based exam. When your state board of nursing receives confirmation of that you have passed the NCLEX-RN, you will be licensed as an RN. Usually your license will need to be renewed periodically, but this depends entirely on the rules and regulations governing nurses in your particular state.
How To Become A Flight/Transport Nurse
Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications
In summary, training to become a flight/transport nurse includes the following aspects:
- You must earn a Nursing Diploma, Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- You must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
- You can then start working as a registered nurse: Work for three to five years in critical care
- You may also be required to complete additional training to earn an Emergency Medical Technician-Basic or Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic certification.
- You must pass the Flight Registered Nurse certification exam, after which you will become a Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)
Because you are always on the move an unofficial qualification for becoming a flight/transport nurse is that you should be in good shape, agile and have good stamina.
Source An Accredited Education Program
It is essential that the program you attend in order to earn your nursing qualification is accredited or else your hard work will count for nothing. Accredited programs can be found through your state board of nursing. Remember that a program that is approved by your state board of nursing is not necessarily also accredited, so make sure that you are well informed about the actual status of the schools you are interested in.
Nurses who are currently working as RNs will be able to provide you with information regarding accredited programs as they themselves would have needed to complete such a program to be where they are today. Although schools often publicize their accreditation status, it is still better to double check their claims in order to avoid running the risk of attending a non-accredited program.
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
Earning your associate’s degree is a good place to start your career as a flight/transport nurse, although it must be noted that a more advanced degree will open up your employment opportunities further. To earn an associate’s degree:
- Find out what schools in your area offer the qualification
- Create a short list of good options based on their accreditation status, their reputation, and your personal needs and interests
- Apply to at least three schools in order to keep your options open and speed up the application process; remember to adhere to the specific application procedures of each school
- Select a school from among those that accept you
- Complete all of the required coursework
- Graduating from the program will earn you an associate’s degree and allow you to go on to become an RN
Obtain Your Licensure
The only license that you really need to become a flight/transport nurse is your RN license. You can become certified in the field, but this is not a requirement in most states. According to nursingschools.net the following applies to flight/transport nurses who would like to become certified: “Flight nurses can also become certified as Certified Flight Registered Nurses (CFRNs) from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). This exam is computer based, contains 180 questions and generally takes around three hours to complete. Flight and transport nurses should also be in good physical shape, be agile and have a great deal of stamina”. Becoming certified is recommended as it will open the door for you to have access to a wider variety of career opportunities and employment options.
Online/Distance Education Programs
A nurse training program consists of two main aspects:
- Theoretical side
- A clinical side
Clearly the clinical side cannot be completed online or via correspondence. However there are online schools that are affiliated with hospitals and other health care facilities where you will be able to complete your clinical work while doing the theory work entirely online. In addition many accredited brick and mortar schools offer online options to students while also accounting for their clinical work needs. It is an option that can work for you, provided you find an online school that is accredited, and provided measures are out in place, either by or by the school you are studying through, to complete the required clinical and hands-on practical training for your registered nursing qualification.
The job outlook for flight/transport nurses is good for the following reasons:
- The baby boom demographic of the population is reaching old age, meaning that there are a higher number of elderly citizens who are in need of medical care when they have accidents.
- There has also been a noticeable increase in the number of natural disasters, meaning that emergency medical response professionals, such as flight/transport nurses, are in greater demand.
In fact it seem that there may not be enough supply of nurses to meet the growing, making it a job that will be highly stable and secure as you will always be able to find employment. The nursing industry in general is growing t a faster rate than all other industries and is expected to increase by about 26% from 2012 to 2020.
The average hourly rate for a flight/transport nurse is about $22.25 – $38.94 an hour. Overtime rates are about $19.37 – $63.59 an hour with a potential annual bonus of about $0.00 – $4,872 a year. Therefore the possible overall yearly salary you can earn is about $41,115 – $93,080.
The industry that you choose to work will affect the exact amount that you are paid:
- In Healthcare you can earn about $20.25 – $39.30 a year
- In the Emergency Medical Services you can earn about $19.89 – $39.83 a year
- In a Hospital you can earn about $20.28 – $39.38 a year
- In the Medical Transportation Services you can earn about $19.89 – $39.83 a year
Women make up 41% of those employed in the industry and earn about $22.48 – $34.97 an hour, while men, who make up 59% of the industry, earn more at $24.49 – $32.49 an hour.
Having a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree will also affect your pay:
- With a Bachelor’s Degree you will earn about $21.41 – $30.20 an hour
- With an Associate’s Degree you will earn about $23.15 – $31.34 an hour
The salary that you can earn in this field of nursing is very good, making it an attractive job. However if you want to become a flight/transport nurse you will need to be prepared for the highly intense nature of the job and have the stomach to deal with the medical emergencies and patient losses that are likely to occur regularly.