How To Become a Flight Nurse

Step by Step Guide to Starting a Career as a Flight Nurse

Oftentimes, patients are in such critical conditions, they need to be transported from one point to another via air transport. It’s crucial that these patients reach their destinations safely. As such, medical professionals known as flight nurses are charged with providing care on flights transporting patients to medical facilities.

If you enjoy nursing and a sense of excitement, check out this guide to see if becoming a flight nurse aligns with your career goals.

What Is a Flight Nurse?

Flight nurses are highly trained nurses who deliver care to patients in critical condition before arriving to a hospital or care facility. They work for hospitals, trauma centers, fire departments, search and rescue organizations, governments, the U.S. military, and independent medical evacuation companies.

What Does a Flight Nurse Do?

Because flight nurses are responsible for providing timely and efficient care to patients being transported via aircraft, they have several important responsibilities. These include:

  • Evaluate the needs of patients
  • Provide immediate care to patients
  • Provide first aid
  • Ensure patient safety and comfort
  • Insert IVs, perform resuscitation, and more
  • Monitor vital signs
  • Organize and maintain paperwork
  • Maintain supplies and equipment
  • Assist in getting patients in and out of the aircraft
  • Ensure that the patient is safely secured
  • Maintain a clean operational environment
  • Communicate effectively with team members
  • Uphold safety standards

Skills Needed To Become a Flight Nurse

Since flight nurses play such a critical role in patient safety, it’s important they possess certain skills. Flight nurses must remain calm in stressful situations, react quickly, be skilled communicators, have good decision-making skills, be resourceful, and be confident. They must also be able to display compassion to patients and their families.

How To Become a Flight Nurse

If you’re interested in becoming a flight nurse, be aware that the first step you need to take is to earn an associate degree in nursing or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Then you must become a registered nurse by passing the NCLEX-RN exam. It’s important you then gain three to five years of hands-on experience as a registered nurse, preferably in a critical care or emergency room setting. You also need to obtain the proper certifications, which we will discuss below.

Education Requirements To Become a Flight Nurse

You need to earn an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing to start on your path to becoming a flight nurse. Excelsior University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program will help you build on your prior learning and gain knowledge that will prepare you for graduate study and the pursuit of lifelong learning, which is essential for practice in the nursing profession. The nursing component of this program focuses on knowledge and professional competencies expected of graduates of bachelor’s programs. It emphasizes the integration of nursing and related arts and sciences knowledge in complex situations related to nursing care of individuals, families, aggregates, and communities. The nursing component requires outstanding critical thinking skills and nursing judgment as well as commitment to academic rigor.

Additional Training and Certifications To Become a Flight Nurse

Potential employers usually prefer flight nurses to have certain certifications to be eligible for hire. The most important is the Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN). Other than this, it’s important to have the following certifications: Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Transport Professional Advanced Trauma Course (TPATC), and Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) or Critical Care Nurse (CCRN).