Education Career Articles

Connect Facebook Connect Twitter Connect Google+ Connect Pinterest Connect Stumbleupon

What are the Roles and Duties of a Flight Nurse

Career News October 27, 2013

Overview

A Flight Nurse is essentially an emergency room nurse on an airplane or helicopter. With a simple definition, this role is very important — it is important in cases of evacuation disaster medical emergency situations. It is a supporting role responsible for the safe transport of patients far from medical facilities, while stabilizing their medical condition and keeping them comfortable.

Who does a Flight Nurse do?

The Flight Nurse is part of a team working with one or more patients at a time. The team can consist of nurses, physicians, paramedics and nurse practitioners. Unlike their roles on the ground, this team must work within the confines of an aircraft or helicopter, using the equipment and supplies immediately available to them.

Each person on the team has their own responsibilities. Teams often train together to create the rhythm needed to quickly respond to a medical emergency on the flight. In close quarters, it’s important that decisions get made promptly and actions taken immediately.

The responsibilities of this role follow a similar flow for each patient:

•Prepare the patient for transport in the airplane or helicopter
•Secure the patient within the aircraft so they don’t move around during the flight
•Give nursing care as required to help the patient be comfortable during the flight
•Perform duties as directed to stabilize any medical condition
•Help transport the patient from the aircraft to an ambulance or emergency room

The goal of this team is to stabilize the patient’s condition so they can be safely transported to a facility where they will receive treatment.

The Flight Nurse may also participate in flights that are simply to transport patients to another location. For instance, they could support a heart transplant recipient as they are transported to the facility where the surgery will happen.

The level of responsibility of the Flight Nurse varies depending on the availability of physicians on board. For instance, if there is not a physician on the flight, the Flight Nurse may communicate the patient’s condition to physicians on the ground who will direct the nurse to take specified actions.

In addition to the general nursing practices, a Flight Nurse is expected to be experienced in emergency care activities such as:

•Using equipment to resuscitate the patient in case they stop breathing or their heart stops beating
•Stabilizing the patient with medications
•Stopping bleeding and administering fluids
•Stabilizing fractures and cleaning wounds
•Assessing the patient’s condition for life threatening situations such as hypothermia or seizures

Throughout all of this, the Flight Nurse must keep good records as to the actions taken by the team and the condition of the patient. This will help the team receiving the patient to continue their treatment. The Flight Nurse may also need to record the supplies used so they can be restocked to make the aircraft ready for the next flight.

What education is needed to become a Flight Nurse?

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in nursing will be needed. Since this is a competitive field (there aren’t that many positions open across the country), a masters degree may be requested. The person must have experience working as a nurse, from two to five years, depending on the facility. They must also have post-graduate training in advanced nursing practices.

Facilities prefer experience in an emergency room or acute care unit. Training in emergency care, cardiac care, respiratory care or intensive care is required. Getting certificates in some of the specialty care areas is also helpful. Various certificate programs are available for critical care nursing, cardiac care nursing and emergency room nursing.

This nurse must be comfortable working in a team environment. Seminars or workshops on team medicine are available and will be viewed favorably on a Flight Nurse application.

The advanced nursing education is not only useful in the Flight Nurse role, but can open doors in other critical care nursing.

Where do Flight Nurses work?

This is a very expensive service so it is usually the large metropolitan areas that support medical flights. Large hospitals and teaching universities can support air transport. These units may be owned and controlled by the facility, or contracted out to an air ambulance service. In the case of a contracted service, hospital flight staff may work with the contract company medical team on the flight.

Since emergencies can at happen any time, the medical flight team is on call and must be available to go at a moment’s notice. There are no shift changes mid-flight so there is the potential for long hours. When not attending to a medical flight, the Flight Nurse may work in the emergency room or critical care unit.

What is the career outlook for Flight Nurses?

The US Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics says that registered nurses will see an increase in demand for their services through the year 2020. The Flight Nurse is a highly specialized role, few exist throughout the US and they are all highly competitive. Because of the expense of this role, it is unlikely that the demand for Flight Nurses will increase much more than average.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average median salary for a registered nurse is $64,690. Flight Nurses are paid more than the average due to their advanced nursing education. On top of the nursing salary, facilities often pay the Flight Nurse additional for each flight on which they participate.

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
  • Nursing Degree Programs from Grand Canyon University's College of Nursing & Health Care Professions
  • Degree Variety: GCU offers a full-spectrum of nursing programs including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, as well as post-master’s certificates.
  • The baccalaureate degree in nursing and master's degree in nursing at Grand Canyon University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.aacn.nche.edu-accreditation).
  • GCU provides a Christian environment that provides an opportunity for you to embrace a holistic approach to caring for patients: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • Depending on the degree you choose, you could take online, evening, or on-campus classes. Speak with an enrollment counselor to discuss your options!
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
South University , Glen Allen
  • Several nursing programs are available at the bachelor's, post-graduate, master's, and doctoral levels.
  • Graduate-level specialization options include Nurse Educator, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Administrator, and more.
  • Nursing programs are available at many of the 11 campus locations across the United States.
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Recognized as a Top 20 Best Online Bachelor’s Program by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.
  • Online, campus-based, and evening courses offered in 95 areas of study, including Business, Nursing, Psychology, & more.
  • Endorsed by G.I. Jobs and Military Advanced Education magazine as a Military Friendly School in 2015.
  • Features small class sizes, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 23 to 1.
  • 88% of Regent University students receive financial aid, with $18 million awarded in institutional scholarships & aid each year.
  • Online Courses
3 Program(s) Found
Fortis Institute , Grand Prairie
  • Ready to Start Your Career? Get More Info From Fortis Today.
  • Accredited
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media for the 4th consecutive year.
  • Listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013, for the sixth consecutive year
  • Links students to hundreds of training opportunities (beyond their traditional internships and practicum) at their many “partner agencies” in each of their local communities.
  • Accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WUSCUC).
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Ranked 8th among the Best Online Graduate Education Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • A private, co-ed college founded in 1821 and located in downtown Washington, D.C.
  • Its student-faculty ratio is 13:1, and 55.1% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • Has distinguished alumni including Senator Harry Reid, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and actress Courtney Cox.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
  • There's still time to apply to Grand Canyon University and pursue your education. Learn more today!
  • Study on your schedule - GCU offers many programs 100% online to fit your busy lifestyle.
  • GCU offers a variety of opportunities to reduce the cost of furthering your education. Campus students may qualify for scholarships, while online students can take part in limited special offers.
  • A regionally accredited university, GCU also holds specialized accreditations and approvals for some of our core program offerings.
  • Degrees in business, education, nursing, humanities and social sciences, theology and more. Find the degree that fits you.
  • Talk to us today to learn more about financial aid and start dates!
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Recognized as a Top 20 Best Online Bachelor’s Program by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.
  • Online, campus-based, and evening courses offered in 95 areas of study, including Business, Nursing, Psychology, & more.
  • Endorsed by G.I. Jobs and Military Advanced Education magazine as a Military Friendly School in 2015.
  • Features small class sizes, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 23 to 1.
  • 88% of Regent University students receive financial aid, with $18 million awarded in institutional scholarships & aid each year.
  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media for the 4th consecutive year.
  • Listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013, for the sixth consecutive year
  • Links students to hundreds of training opportunities (beyond their traditional internships and practicum) at their many “partner agencies” in each of their local communities.
  • Accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WUSCUC).
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Ranked 8th among the Best Online Graduate Education Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • A private, co-ed college founded in 1821 and located in downtown Washington, D.C.
  • Its student-faculty ratio is 13:1, and 55.1% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • Has distinguished alumni including Senator Harry Reid, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and actress Courtney Cox.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits

Login to your account

Can't remember your Password ?

Register for this site!