Are you an adrenaline junkie who also likes to work with people? Do you crave excitement and want a rewarding career? If so, you should consider the nursing specialty of flight nursing. You not only get to wear the cool jumpsuit, you get to fly on a helicopter and work for a level one trauma center.
Educational Requirements for Flight Nursing
Flight nursing is not a course of study at a formal nursing school or university nursing program. However, those that choose this career path must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited nursing program. This allows them to take the certification test called the National Certification Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). If you pass this exam, then and only then, you can use the title of “RN”.
Many flight nursing professionals go on to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Most facilities require their trauma professionals and flight nurses to have experience in the emergency department (ED) or trauma unit. Furthermore, you will need certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). Once you meet these basic requirements, you can compete with other RNs for a flight nurse position. We use the term “compete” because these jobs are limited and difficult to acquire.
Flight Nurse Certification
Most every flight nurse and transport nurse is a member of the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), which offers training and education. Also, the Air and Surface Transport Nurses Association offers education and training courses for flight nurses. Many flight nursing professionals choose to also obtain emergency medical technician (EMT) certification and disaster management training. The main requirement that most trauma centers insist you earn is the title of Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN) or Certified Transport Registered Nurse (CTRN). The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCED) offers testing for these two certifications. You must take a detailed examination and pass with a required score.
Flight Nursing Career Opportunities and Salaries
Most flight nurses work for hospitals that offer trauma services. They ride on helicopters to the site of accidents or to healthcare facilities where they transport that patient to the higher level hospital. According to most web sources, the average flight nurse or transport professional earns an annual salary of $69,200 per year. However, in California and New York, the yearly pay is as much as $76,000. Healthcare is a growing industry with the aging population, and impending nursing shortages means secure jobs for qualified professionals.
Job Duties of the Flight Nurse
The flight nurse job is not open to new graduates. First, you must earn a certain level of expertise and preparedness as a registered nurse (RN). Most flight nursing professionals have sub-specialty training in trauma nursing and use the title of trauma nurse. You must use aggressive patient care tactics and work along members of the flight crew who respond to disasters, accidents, and transport critically ill and injured patients from one facility to another or from the site of the injury to the trauma center.
Each flight job has but one mission: to triage, stabilize, and transport the victim or victims to the medical center, where a team awaits to treat and attend to the patient or patients. Typical job duties of a flight nursing healthcare worker include starting IVs, giving medications, intubating the patient, and attending to wounds, just to name a few. Most flight nurses have specialty qualifications in emergency nursing, transport nursing, and critical care nursing.
ResourcesANA (2013): http://www.nursingworld.org/ ASTNA (2013):http://www.astna.org/ ANCC (2013):http://www.nursecredentialing.org/ BCEN (2013):http://www.bcencertifications.org/ BLS (2010): http://www.bls.gov/
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