What is it about flight nursing that makes seemingly sane nurses who are already under mountains of stress at their “routine” hospital jobs want to take on the added challenges of this all-encompassing job? Flight nurses care for the most critically ill or injured patients across all specialties of medicine and disease. Flight nursing is, according to those who do it, the ultimate test of your skills, education, and experience as a nurse. There’s no routine day for a flight nurse. You could be on a mountainside rescuing an injured climber one day and transporting a burn victim in an urban area the next. When you’re called, you have to have the skills and the wherewithal to deal with whatever comes your way. With just you, your partner, and the pilot aboard, you will be faced with challenging decisions that you might never have to make in a hospital setting.
For some nurses, the opportunity to fly, be a part of a highly trained team, receive specialized training, and also to help give critically injured trauma patients the chance to live makes the flight nursing profession highly appealing – a true “higher” calling.
How does one train to be a flight nurse?
Once you finish your nursing education, you will need to gain as much experience as possible in as many areas as you can. While some argue that ER nurses make the best flight nurses, there are others who say that ICU nurses are best prepared for the role. Whatever you do, try to gain experience with as many types of patients as possible.
Flight nursing requirements vary from state to state, but on a national level, all flight nursing programs require RNs to have two to three years of critical care experience, advanced cardiac life support, and pediatric advanced life support certificates. Some states require that nurses be trained paramedics or EMTs, and might require certification in neonatal resuscitation, critical care, and as a certified flight RN.