A flight nurse is a highly trained registered nurse that normally has experience in not only advanced life support but also critical care. They need the combined skills of an intensive care nurse, emergency nurse and critical care nurse as they deal with a large variety of emergencies and under numerous conditions.
There are a large variety of employers that require the expertise of a flight nurse. Some work on medical emergency teams that reach critically injured or ill patients in remote areas and treat them while airlifting the patient to a healthcare facility. Other flight nurses work with teams that land at disaster sites such as car accidents, tornados, earthquakes and fly the seriously injured to hospital trauma centers. They perform the necessary, specialized intensive care while transporting their critically injured or ill patients by plane or helicopter to the appropriate health care facility.
Some large airlines have flight nurses available to fly with patients requiring specific medical needs. These nurses have access to the patient’s medical history and needs so they have the necessary medical supplies and equipment to handle any emergencies or problems that could occur during the flight. Many people with medical conditions that could not travel without the availability of medical care and treatment are now able to fly on business or pleasure. The varied career of a flight nurse is exciting, often high-stress but extremely necessary and rewarding. Some of the many employers that hire flight nurses are private or community hospitals, airlines, medical emergency disaster teams, and private individuals.
Common work activities include:
- Checking, monitoring and inventory management of medical supplies on planes.
- Researching, studying and attending training on emergency response, treating individuals without hospital backup and managing emergency issues in flight.
- Traveling to disaster areas to support emergency response teams.
- Flying and traveling with private individuals or groups of individuals that require medical attention or the ability to have medical attention at all times.
- Performing all necessary emergency and non-emergency medical procedure while in flight or at the scene of disasters and emergencies.
- Training in emergency response and preparedness. Coordinating training and workshops for others.