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Flight/Transport Nurse: Education and Career Information

If you enjoy working in a medical setting, but want some diversity in what you do, a career as a flight/transport nurse may be the right choice. This is a highly functional position that moves from place to place assisting patients who are in a trauma situation. This is a very lucrative position that has a lot of demands, and a highly specialized area of concentration. These nurses work with other healthcare professionals to make sure the patient has adequate care during transport.

What does a flight/transport nurse do?

A flight/transport nurse does a number of tasks and is a highly specialized role. These nurses are skilled and trained to handle extreme medical situations while in transit. They are usually part of a complete team of medical professionals who work on land and in the air. They administer medical care to patients being transported to another medical facility or a hospital. This is a very fast-paced career and has its share of challenges. They must be able to think quickly on their feet and assess conditions as they occur. These nurses stabilize patients during transportation, perform varied procedures such as tracheotomies, CPR, intubation, IVs and others. They also acquire and operate specialized equipment needed for patient transportation. In transit, they monitor patients and administer medical procedures as instructed by the physician. Once they’ve reached the destination, they are responsible for making sure all records are properly recorded and transferred. These nurses are found in hospitals, clinics, with private agencies and in the military.

How much does a flight/transport nurse earn?

According to Payscale, a flight/transport nurse makes on average about $66,000 per year. This is based on education, location, facility, or whether or not they are working in private care. On the high scale, this position pays up to $150,000 annually.

What types of skills are needed to become a flight/transport nurse?

Communication Skills: A flight/transport nurse must have excellent communication skills as they will not only communicate with other healthcare professionals, but must be able to communicate with the patient and be able to advise others on what is going on during transport. They must be able to comprehend well and gather information and resources in a timely manner.

Decision-Making Skills: The flight/transport nurse must be able to make sound decisions and use good judgment. This is essential in being able to perform efficiently and productively. They must be able to handle stress well, and handle issues as they arise. The nurse must be able to think quickly and react in preparation for emergencies both in and out of the air.

Technology Skills: When transporting patients, they are usually connected to a number of machines and other equipment to keep them stabilized. Technology skills are a must, as the medical field relies heavily on the use of technology to keep track of patient records, administer medications, keep reports and changes, and other vital information. The transport/flight nurse must be able to use all the equipment, and be accurate in their assessments and record keeping while in transport.

Supervisory Skills: A flight/transport nurse monitors the patient and their condition in and out of the air, but must also have good supervisory skills and be able to lead the team when necessary.

Clinical Skills: A flight/transport nurse must have excellent clinical skills, and be able to perform medical procedures when needed. They must be well trained and be able to quickly and accurately assess a situation.

Physically Fit: A flight/transport nurse must be physically fit, as this role demands lifting equipment and patients on a consistent basis. Staying in shape is key to be successful as a nurse with this skill set.

Internship Requirements

There are a number of internship requirements needed to be successful in this field, in addition to specialized training specific to this role.

Education Requirements

Flight/transport nurses go through the standard Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) program to attain their degree. This is a four-year program that includes coursework like chemistry, biology, physiology, and anatomy. Once the student completes their program, they will be required to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed. This is the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, and is a 5-hour, computerized that adjusting the difficulty and subject matter based on how the student answers the questions.

Once they become licensed, they must begin their career path. This is a highly specialized position, so a nurse who wishes to work in this field will have at least five years of experience that specializes in critical/intensive care. During the post-licensure process, flight/transport nurses must get additional training as a emergency medical nurse or work in an intensive care unit. They should also have extensive training in vasoactive medications, mechanical ventilation and other skills that are specific to the intensive care field.

Flight/transport nurses must become certified in a number of areas in order to qualify for this role. Having a number of these certifications is crucial. Some of them include advanced cardiac life support, CPR certification, advanced trauma care for nurses, neonatal resuscitation, advanced burn life support and a host of others.

There are a number of exams to sit for in order to obtain these certifications, and will require additional education beyond the standard nursing program. Experience is also a big component of this role, and working in specific trauma units is beneficial.

This is a rigorous and demanding role and is not for the faint at heart. This position is very stressful and demanding, and requires a high degree of dedication to be successful. Although lucrative, the working hours are varied and sometimes long, especially in a crisis situation. If you have interest in helping individuals in crisis situations, this could be the right career path for you. It is definitely for a dedicated nurse who wants to assist patients and make sure they get the care they need.

Nursing Scholarships

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship
The Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS) National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Nurse Corps Scholarship (NCS) Nurses of Tomorrow
Nursing Economics Foundation Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Holistic Nurses Association
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Quick Fact
In 2018, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma.*
*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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