As a flight nurse you are often faced with working alone or with a small medical unit providing in flight medical care to patients while they are being transferred to the airport via aircraft such as helicopters, propeller airplanes and jets.
Those who work in this field of nursing know that it can be a highly demanding field but the benefits of having a primary role in taking care of patients while en route to a hospital or health care facility can easily outweigh the work that’s involved in becoming a flight nurse.
Flight nurses are often the leader of their unit and are responsible for making many different tough decisions such as assessing the patients current condition, administering medications, ensuring the proper use and care of medical equipment, planning aero medical missions and making sure that their patient receive the proper medical care they need from the time they arrive at the scene of the incident until the time the patient reaches the hospital or health care facility.
Education and Training
Because of the level of training and education flight nurses must have to operate proficiently in their field most individuals looking to apply for a flight nursing job must have a bachelor’s degree, although the qualifications may be different depending on the hospital or health care organization you apply to.
Potential flight nurses must also take a series of continuing education courses and certifications related to emergency care and flight nursing, and spend several years (usually 3 – 5 years) working as a registered nurse in an emergency or intensive care setting.
Flight nurse salary
In the U.S. the average salary for flight nurses is somewhere around $65,000 – $70,000 on an annual basis, however the amount of money a flight nurse is likely to make can change drastically depending on what state you work in and the need for flight nurses in your location.
At the lower end of the scale (bottom 10%) flight nurses may make under $55,000 annually, however at the higher end of the pay scale (top 10%) flight nurses have been known to make to over $85,000 annually, and in some cases may even make 6 figures.
While it isn’t true for every situation flight nurses who work in highly populated locations such as New York tend to make more money compared to areas that are largely rural in nature.
The field of nursing is continually expanding and offering new opportunities for students who are interested starting a career as a nurse.
Over the next 20 years (2000 – 2020) the demand for nurses is expected to increase by 800,000 partially due to the fact the many of the current nurses are reaching retirement combined with a continually growing economy which will cause the nursing deficit to increase substantially.
This is of course great news for those who want to work in the medical field as nurses or teachers because there will be many opportunities for career advancement along with the benefits of having a stable career.
Historically those who work in the nursing field have also seen continuing increases in terms of salary and overtime.
If you are interested in helping people in field that offers great pay, excellent benefits, a steady career and lots of opportunity for growth becoming a nurse may be right for you.
Should you become a flight nurse?
If you have a strong desire to help patients in the medical field, want to play a leadership role in providing emergency care to patients who are suffering from a trauma or medical emergency and enjoy working in a field that is exciting and constantly changing in terms of environments and emergency medical situations than working as a flight nurse may be the right career choice for you.
Becoming a flight nurse doesn’t come over night, it takes a lot of training, education and real life experience in the medical field before being able to qualify for a position as a flight nurse.
As a flight nurse you have to be independent and ready to act on a moments notice.
You have to be able to lead an emergency medical crew into consistently changing and unpredictable situations and know how to best assess the patients condition so that you can provide him/her with the proper medical treatment while they are being transported to a hospital or health care facility.
You must also have a deep understanding of medicine, physiology and anatomy, and be able to operate various medical equipment among other things.
The journey to flight nursing isn’t short and it’s important to understand just what it takes to become a flight nurse in the first place before deciding to put in the work required to become a flight nurse.
Here is a brief example of the path that is required to get into the flight nursing field:
1) Apply for a nursing program that offers a bachelors of science degree
2) Take any necessary prerequisites that are needed to get into the nursing program and maintain the required GPA needed to get accepted (may take two or more years to complete)
3) Get accepted into the nursing program, passing the national licensing exam and earn your bachelors of science (may take four or more years to complete)
4) Start working as a registered nurse
5) Work for several years in an emergency or intensive care hospital or health care facility so that you can acquire the knowledge and training needed to work efficiently and effectively on your own when in the field. (You may have to work a year or more before being able to join an emergency or intensive care unit at a hospital, but you’ll want to gain as much experience as soon as possible. Some hospitals may also let you join or volunteer temporarily until you’ve displaced a proficient understanding and ability to take care of patients in an emergency ward)
6) Take continuing education courses and get certified in a number of fields related to emergency care and flight nursing (you can find some of the certifications here: Flight nurse training and certification)
7) Apply for a position as a flight nurse
What you can see from this brief explanation of what is required for those interested in becoming flight nurses is that takes years of training and education to get to this point.
It isn’t something that you can just jump into, it’s something you have to train long and hard for.
You’ll have to put in lot’s of effort to get to this point, but the rewards of being able to work independently or with a small medical team and really make a difference in the lives of people may just be worth it!
If you’re considering becoming a flight nurse it’s important that you sit down and map out what it will take for you to get there and really ask yourself if you’re willing to do everything that is required to become a flight nurse and if the answer is still a burning yes then go for it.