Explore A Career As A Flight Nurse

March 26, 2015

Ready to embark on their placement overseas! Flight nurses provide in-flight emergency medical care to critically ill or severely injured patients who need to be transported to the hospital by aircraft. These nurses play a crucial role in a patient’s well-being from the first moment of contact and right through the flight until the time you and the patient reach the hospital.

Because flight nurses play such an important role in providing life-saving patient care, they are required to be highly trained, certified and experienced in several areas of critical care before being able to practice independently as a flight nurse.

Roles & Responsibilities As A Flight Nurse

Some of the tasks you will have to be responsible in your role as a flight nurse include:

  • Evaluating the patient’s symptoms and condition and providing them with appropriate medical treatment and care until the patient reaches the hospital
  • Administering essential medication or injections to alleviate the patient’s pain
  • Applying splints, stitching up injuries, performing minor operations and doing incisions as needed
  • Replacing lost blood using blood transfusion devices
  • Liaising between the flight crew and flight medical team
  • Managing proper treatment while working in small compressed atmospheres
  • Maintaining the patient’s overall safety during the entire flight
  • Operating non-emergency as well as emergency medical equipment and/or technology such as blood transfusion devices, oxygen tanks, mechanical ventilation machines and other life support equipment.
  • Planning and Preparing for flight missions

Depending on the setting and the establishment you are working with, in addition to all of the above responsibilities you may also be required operate in a wide range of settings outside of the norm such as:

  • Responding to car accidents
  • Rescuing individuals trapped in an earthquake or flood
  • Operating in tornadoes 

Education & Training

There is a high level of knowledge and responsibility required in this role. In order to become a flight nurse, you should have obtained several years experience working in intensive care as a registered nurse. Some organisations require RNs that are applying for a position as a flight nurse to hold at minimum a bachelor’s degree and at least 3 to 5 years of intensive care experience. The more education and experience you have, the better the prospects.

All potential flight nurses must also have extensive training in specific advanced areas such as mechanical ventilation as well as a number of other specialised care practices that correspond with emergency care.

To ensure that you are physically and mentally capable of handling this demanding job, some organisations require you to participate in a series of physiological tests.

Other jobs may require you to be certified in a wide range of medical areas relevant to their specific field.

The list of required certifications may include but are not restricted to

  • Basic Life Support Certification
  • Certified Flight Registered Nurse
  • CPR Certification
  • Certified Emergency Nurse
  • Neonatal Resuscitation Certification
  • Critical Care Registered Nurse
  • EMS Certification/Licence
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • Paediatric Advanced Life Support
  • Advanced Trauma Care and Trauma Life Support
  • Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support
  • EMT Certification
  • Advanced Burn Life Support
  • Transport Nurse Advanced Trauma Course 

The more education, experience and certifications you can acquire as a registered nurse, particularly in areas related to critical & aero-medical care, the better.