What is a Flight Nurse?

If you’ve ever seen a massive car pile up on the highway with multiple injuries, you’ve likely seen a helicopter called to bring the serious victims to a hospital. It’s the quickest way to get them the life-saving care they need to survive. On the way to the hospital, flight nurses are there to ensure that the patient receives advanced medical care.

What is a Flight Nurse?

The professional health care provider on the flight is a flight nurse. He or she is trained to provide care while on a helicopter or plane. Emergency care is one of the biggest reasons for a flight nurse to give patients medical care on a helicopter, but there are other times when they are needed for non-emergency care. Patients can be moved from one facility to another on a plane or helicopter too.

What Do Flight Nurses Do?

After an accident, the patient has to be secured to the plane or helicopter for the flight, which can be incredibly bumpy depending on the weather. The nurse could need to give life-saving treatments, revive the patient and give them medications. In flight, the nurse will need to start an IV line or perform emergency first aid to ensure the patient stays alive, so the hospital can continue giving them medical care.

When the flight lands, the nurse will remove the patient from the vehicle and allow the hospital staff to continue life-saving procedures. The flight nurse will report on the patient’s progress on the flight as well as vitals and what the treatments were during the flight.

Where Do They Work?

Flight nurses can work for private companies, hospitals or the military. There are opportunities for flight nurses to get positions in fire departments or government agencies that participate in search and rescue operations or medical evacuations.

Much of their duties will be performed in the air on a helicopter or plane high overhead. They’ll start by stabilizing the patient on the ground for moving to the helicopter, but most of the treatment will happen in the air.

What’s the Salary of a Flight Nurse?

The specific occupation of flight nurse falls under the heading of Registered Nurse, which brings in a median pay of approximately $67,000 per year. That can be higher or lower depending on the area of the country as well as the experience of the nurse, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Kind of Schooling is Needed?

To become a flight nurse, you’ll need to find a nursing program that will give you a nursing degree to be a registered nurse. A four-year bachelors degree program will provide all the knowledge you need to take the registered nurse exam. Once you have your nursing license, you can get some experience on the job as a nurse in an emergency room. It’s a place where you’ll learn to triage patients, perform emergency procedures and deal with life and death situations on a daily basis. After some experience, you can study and take the certified flight registered nurse examination. It’s given by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing.

Related Resource: 5 Jobs With a Health Science Degree

A flight nurse can have a very satisfying career helping patients who are critically injured. As a nurse, helping people is much like breathing or eating, and a flight nurse can feel satisfied over the difference they’re making daily.