Flight Nurse Job Description
A Flight Nurse provides medical care to patients before and during transport to hospital facilities. They provide comprehensive pre-hospital and emergency care to patients of all kinds during evacuation and rescue operations aboard aircrafts.
Flight nurses are Registered Nurses who must be highly trained because they often provide more services than the typical RN, and they often work independently of other medical professionals without the availability of more specialized professionals and doctors. The field for Registered Nurses in general is expected to grow about 16 percent over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is significantly above average job growth.
Flight Nurse Duties and Responsibilities
In order to ensure satisfactory service for all patients, a Flight Nurse performs many different tasks. We analyzed job listings for Flight Nurses in order to identify these core duties and responsibilities.
Deliver Patient Care
Responsible for delivering comprehensive patient care, the Flight Nurse must be trained and knowledgeable in a wide variety of emergency care procedures. Because they operate primarily in transport environment removed from other medical professionals, they must be able to delivery patient care autonomously. They take vitals, perform treatments and provide diagnostics.
Follow Clinical Protocols
Flight Nurses must follow all clinical protocols that a Registered Nurse would follow. This includes adherence to clinic-specific policies, organizational standards and principles of patient care as well as general procedures such as HIPPA standards and patient confidentiality.
Follow Flight Protocols
The Flight Nurse functions as a flight team member, and thus must follow all in-flight protocols and perform pilot assistance duties as needed. This may include dispatching flights and assisting with the liftoff checklist, aircraft radio and navigation, visual observation and generally helping to assure safe and timely transport of patient. The Flight Nurse must hold all required licenses and certifications for active flight duty.
Record Patient Information
Monitoring and recording patient information, condition and treatment response is a critical component of the Flight Nurse’s job. It is particularly important as a Flight Nurse to maintain accurate and thorough records so that the transfer process goes smoothly and receiving facilities can adequately care for the patient.
Prepare Patient for Receiving Facility
In order to prepare the patient for the receiving facility and effectively transfer patient, the Flight Nurse must accurately communicate patient condition, all patient changes and responses to treatment to the receiving facility and its medical staff. The Flight Nurse will also identify discharge and transfer needs in order to appropriately direct patient upon landing.
Flight Nurse Skills
Flight nurses are highly trained, adaptable individuals capable of working independently and under high levels of stress. They maintain composure under pressure and juggle multiple priorities in order to successfully complete their job. Responsible for working with the flight crew and receiving medical staff, Flight Nurses must have excellent communication skills as well.
Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Flight Nurses with these core skills. If you want to work as a Flight Nurse, focus on the following.
- Completing an accredited nursing program
- Having emergency and critical care experience
- Holding required flight certifications
- Possessing a nursing license in state of employment
- Possessing knowledge of mixing medications
- Having the ability to work in confined mobile spaces
Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Flight Nurse toolbox and broaden your career options.
- Flight experience
- Intensive Care Unit experience
- Specialty certifications
- Completion of an advanced trauma course
Flight Nurse Resources
We searched the Web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a Flight Nurse. From thought leaders to industry groups, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect and engage.
On the Web
BMJ Blog – An evidence-based nursing blog
John Hopkins School of Nursing Blog – Great nursing stories and study tips
ADVANCE Perspective – A nursing blog told from multiple perspectives
American Medical Association – Largest association of medical professionals
American Nurses Association – National organization of professional nurses
Air and Surface Transport Nurses Association – Organization for nurses who specialize in air and transport nursing
Flight Nurse Books
Trail Guide to the Body – A comprehensive guide to locating muscles in the human body
Trauma Junkie – The memoirs of an emergency flight nurse
I Wasn’t Strong Like This Starting Out – True stories of people becoming nurses
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