The route to becoming a flight nurse is as varied as the individuals that work in the profession. Programs also vary from company to company. What follows is my opinion intersped with some facts that relate to where I work. First we do have a weight requirement; max weight is 220 pounds in your flight suit with your helmet and radio. There is no height max but it is somewhat self limiting. You also must be able to carry your own weight and much more, literally. Lifting, carrying heavy loads and in a Nomex flight suit can be exhausting, dehydrating and potentially dangerous. Being tired leads to mistakes, so being fit is necessary.
The path to get to an interview is pretty straight forward. Get as much critical care experience as possible. ER is fine but the higher the acuity and volume the better for you (and your future patients) and will stand out on your resume. There are arguments, pros/cons etc whether ICU experience is ‘better’ or not than the ER. Having ICU experience will help to make you a better provider. Same as PICU, NICU and all the ‘U’s. The more experience the better. Plan on at least three years. Having all the certifications and using them in your practice will be a plus: ACLS,PALS,ATLS,ENPC,TNCC,NRP,CCRN,CEN, and the list goes on. As a nurse having at least ACLS/PALS and national certification is basic entry level. Programs will train/orient the rest. To get the resume onto the interview pile, have documentation as a clinical leader in your current jobs. Precept, teach etc.. I think this is what gets the interview IMO.
Ok so you got the interview, you’re competing with a whole bunch of other applicants just like you. Type A personalities, “sponges” ready to learn; although flight physiology, flight safety (aka crew resource management), some specialties and advanced procedures will be in training, you should already have the skills to care for critical sick patients.
Oh yeah, pre-hospital care is a major plus for RNs, as is a BSN, just find the time to do it all. There’s the challenge.
What is going to separate you from all the other type A applicants? The answer is really simple: How well do play with others? You will be part of a team, RN/Paramedic, RN/RRT, RN/RN etc… Where I work it’s 50/50. There is no medic-scene call/nurse inter-facility hierarchy. We work together and that includes the pilot, although they’re not in the ‘up for tube’ rotation (TIC). The other team members are the providers that request our services. ALWAYS remain respectful. They call us for our assistance to provide the best care for really sick people. How we interact can have far reaching implications outside being labeled a jerk or rude. If they have a negative experience with a flight crew member or team and hesitate to use our services for the next sick patient then we have caused indirect harm to that person that may have benefited from our services.
Good luck on your endeavor to become a flight RN. If you are near a program that offers ‘ride a’ longs’ sign up and see if it’s for you.