What They Do
Flight nurses are trained to provide support and care during air travel, including rescue flights in either planes or helicopters. Because air transportation is often considered a last resort for patients, flight nurses must have skills and knowledge concerning emergency medical care like first aid and CPR. They must also have practical skills concerning flight and navigation.
Depending on the size of the plane or helicopter, flight nurses are often the sole caretaker and medical professional on a flight. This means that the well-being of a patient can be solely in their hands. Flight nurses must maintain the status of the patient while in flight and report any changes or medical needs to the receiving medical team.
Flight nurses are in charge of moving the patients to and from the plane or helicopter, which requires some physical strength. Flight nurses must also communicate clearly and empathetically with the patient during transfer in order to provide comfort and support.
Flight nurses must be able to work well in dangerous and stressful situations. Since they are considered to be emergency nurses, they must be able to work under pressure and in life-threatening situations. Patience, attention to detail, empathy and the ability to act and think quickly are all essential to being a flight nurse.
There are two basic kinds of flight nurses: military and civilian. Civilian flight nurses work for hospitals and trauma centers. They may also work for search and rescue organizations, independent medical evacuation firms, and organizations like Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross.
Military flight nurses, on the other hand, work for the different branches of the armed forces, as well as the Reserves. They may work on military bases overseas and near combat zones.
Both kinds of flight nurses can expect high levels of stress and danger in their jobs. Military flight nurses may work near dangerous war zones and civilian flight nurses may be expected to fly over and into fires and other catastrophes.
Flight nurses are highly trained registered nurses or nurse practitioners. The field of nursing in general is expected to grow at a faster than average rate over the next few years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have specific data concerning flight nurses. However, given the level of responsibility that comes with this kind of position, the demand for flight nurses is always considerable.
Given the amount of education needed and the environments in which flight nurses work, a flight nurse should make somewhere between $65,470 and $89,960 a year. The amount depends on what kind of organization for which they work.
The basic education requirement for a flight nurse is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Given the advanced demands and knowledge needed to succeed in this specialty, a BSN is required. Registered nurses can earn this degree through an RN to BSN program. Some nurses go on to earn a Master of Science in Nursing for career advancement.