How to Become A Flight Nurse

What is a Flight Nurse?

Flight nursing is an exciting and demanding field within the healthcare industry.  Flight nurses are registered nurses (RNs) with additional training and experience that work out in the field to transport critically ill patients to hospitals and critical care facilities.  A flight nurse is a member of a critical care team that can transport patients on fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters.
How to become a flight nurse
There are different ways to become a flight nurse, and requirements often vary across the country and work setting.  Many flight nurses have worked for 3-5 years in a hospital in areas of critical care, trauma (Level 1 trauma often preferred), or emergency.
There are many certifications and courses that may be required before you can become a flight nurseincluding:

  • Basic Life Support (BLS),
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS),
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS),
  • Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS)/Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC),
  • Transport Nurse Advanced Trauma Course (TNATC),
  • Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course (ENPC),
  • Air Medical Safety,
  • Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS),
  • Critical Care Emergency Medical Transport (CCEMT),
  • Certifications in Critical Care Nursing (CCRN), Emergency (CEN) or Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)

Other flight nurses may have had pre-hospital experience such as training as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Paramedic.  Flight nurses need to be able to have good decision-making and assessment skills and be able to work closely under periods of extreme stress with other members of the care team. 
If you are interested in becoming a flight nurse, and are already a RN, you may be able to go on a "ride along" with a flight crew.  You will be able to see if you are comfortable being in the tight space of an aircraft and that you are comfortable flying.  You must also be in good physical condition since many of the situations require you to lift heavy loads or work in cramped conditions with critically ill patients. 
There is very tough competition for the few flight nursing jobs that are available.Prepare yourself as much as possible to be able to stand out from the rest of the applicants in the highly competitive field of flight nursing.

Ask an Expert

Q:While searching for flight nurse requirements, I came across the work setting where such nurses can seek employment. Can you tell me?

A:Flight nurses are hired by many different healthcare institutions. These nurses can be found in fire departments, medical evacuation agencies, rescue agencies, private clinics, hospitals, and more. Flight nurses must have at least a BSN degree and a few years of work experience. For more detailed information, take a look at our page.

Q:What are the minimum flight nurse requirements?

A:Flight nurses are highly trained nurses who provide healthcare services in emergency situation to patients during rescue operations, flights, or any other aeromedical evacuation. To become a flight nurse, one must first earn a degree in nursing along with a professional license, and further earn a certification in this specific field.

Q:What are the roles and duties of a flight nurse?

A:Flight nurses provide emergency and critical care services to patients during aeromedical evacuation, rescue operations, and passenger flights. These nurses are skilled in providing emergency care and can perform a number of procedures such as CPR. Flight nurses must be licensed and certified by relevant organizations. Take a look at our page for more detail.

Q:Can you tell me about flight nurse certification?

A:There is no exact certification designed for flight nurses. These nurses may hold the following certifications however: certified emergency nurse (CEN), certified flight registered nurse (CFRN), and critical care registered nurse (CCRN). These nurses provide care to all kinds of patients during aeromedical evacuation. To find out more, take a look at our page.

Q:Do I need a license for becoming a flight nurse?

A:Yes, all types of nurses require a license. It is necessary that you earn a degree in nursing and then take the licensing examinations known as the NCLEX exam. This exam is conducted by the nursing board in every state. The test will evaluate your nursing skills and knowledge, and will help determine your readiness for the field.

Q:Can I qualify for flight nursing jobs with little experience or none?

A:No, unfortunately you will need some level of experience for the job. All flight nurses are required to undergo training on-the-job. The training will provide them exposure to the industry demands and what to expect in the career. You can get information about the training and certification requirements from the nursing board in your state. Take a look at our page for detail.

Q:Where can I search for a flight nurse school?

A:You can search online for flight nursing schools. These schools are helping many students' prep for careers as flight nurses. You can search online to see what programs are currently being offered. It is important to check the admission criteria, accreditation, and the ranking of the school before enrolling in any. Take a look at our page for more detail.

Q:Can you tell me about the job duties of an air force flight nurse?

A:Air force flight nurses can be found working for the US Military. These nurses help patients by providing medical services such as the following: performing lifesaving emergency procedures, administering medication, assessing a patient's condition, checking progress, and more. Take a look at our page for more detail about air force flight nurses.

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