Hyperbaric Nursing

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    Hyperbaric Nursing is the nursing specialty involving the care of the patient undergoing hyperbaric therapy. This could be a patient who has the "bends" from a dive accident. Or, it could be the patient with the complex and chronic wound.

    Hyperbaric Nursing

    Hyperbaric nursing has a long history. It originated well over 100 years ago as some type of life-prolonging "treatment" for the rich and famous. As time progressed, it was used in dive medicine. The care of the patient was handled by technicians, medical students and scientists interested in the physics of hyperbaric care. In the 60's, nurses began to take over the duties of these people. Approximately 20 years ago, nurses came to the forefront of hyperbaric medicine. In 1978, the first US hyperbaric conference included workshops specifically for nurses. It was sponsored by the Baromedical Department at Memorial Medical Center in Long Beach, CA. In 2002, the first Hyperbaric Nursing Textbook was published.

    Though hyperbaric care is often associated with dive medicine, nowadays most nurses associate it with wound care. It is known to promote higher tissue oxygenation and to speed healing of wounds that have failed conventional care. Medicare has recognized that hyperbaric therapy has a place in wound care and is now reimbursing for this service. This has allowed many more patients to take advantage of this care.

    Qualities of Hyperbaric Nursing

    Varied experiences can be helpful for becoming a successful hyperbaric nurse. Technical aptitude is an important trait also for these nurses.
    • Emergency department nurses have the quick assessment skills needed for emergencies, especially emergencies in close quarters
    • ICU nurses bring the technical skills to hyperbaric nursing
    • All nurses have the ability to understand the physics behind hyperbaric medicine but it is a very specialized type of nursing
    • Must have the ability to adapt to rapidly changing situations


    Most nurses that care for hyperbaric patients are RNs. Wound care utilizes hyperbaric therapy to help to heal stubborn wounds in a time saving and money saving manner. Advanced practice nurses are frequently involved in the care of wound clinic patients. They direct the care, coordinate with other providers and provide education to patients, family members and other members of the healthcare team.

    Job Outlook for Hyperbaric Nurses

    Opportunities for hyperbaric medicine nurses is expected to be varied. Much will depend on how reimbursement covers this care as to how many new jobs will be created. Nurses that are multi-skilled will be in the most demand. So, nurses that can care for wounds, ostomies, continence, dive medicine and hyperbaric care will have the highest chance of landing a good position.


    allNurses.com forum for Hyperbaric Nursing - some recent topics include how to motivate patients to come to their daily appointments, how to obtain specialty certification.

    Baromedical Nurses Association - established in 1985, this is a very detailed website regarding the care of the patient undergoing hyperbaric therapy for a variety of diagnoses. The website includes a care plan with appropriate nursing diagnoses.

    National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology - this organization supports certification for hyperbaric nurses and interestingly enough, certification for veterinary technicians.

    Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Association - encompasses wound care including hyperbaric nursing. This website has a wide variety of useful information for both the novice and the experienced nurse.
    Last edit by Joe V on Nov 7, '13
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  3. by   Guttercat
    Thanks for this, Trauma.

    I know very little about it, but it piques my interest.
  4. by   dirtyhippiegirl
    Get into burn nursing. Or wound care. Or both if possible.
  5. by   traumaRUs
    Exactly dirtyhippiegirl!

    I live in the midwest (not a drop of ocean anywhere) - yet we run several hyperbaric chambers almost round the clock for wound care.