What is the best route to becoming a flight nurse? (I understand experience is necessary but what is the best preparation to achieve landing a position in this speciality? ?)
I have a relative who was an NICU flight nurse. She worked top level NICU for 17 years, had all the NICU certifications, etc. There's a flight nurse section to this forum under the "specialties" section, although I'm not sure how active it is.
My closest friend from nursing school had originally wanted to do this but I think she dropped the idea of doing it several years ago. She worked on the same medical unit for 10+ years and recently started a job as a CNS. I believe you need critical care experience before you can even be considered.
At least two years (5 would be better) in a high acuity CVICU (SICU might be okay depending on the patient population). Some time in the ED might help but isn't usually considered enough without ICU experience. All the alphabets with the exception of CFRN (usually required within a year but hard to pass with no flight experience). You might need EMT-B certification possibly medic. There are weight limits. Depending on the aircraft there might be height limits as well. You must be physically fit. Able to carry heavy jump bags and not be bothered much with motion sickness. Occasional bouts are okay if the weather is foul but not chronic. The crew compartments are small and nobody wants them filled with barf. You should be able to do calculations in your head and have excellent IV skills. Your people and critical thinking skills need to be above average. I could go on. Your best bet is to get to know your local flight crew. Network with them. Go on a ride-along. Show them you have the stuff.
Absolutely need ICU experience and the more you have of it, the better applicant you make . You cannot teach experience or take a course in experience or read it in a book. You need Solid ICU experience in a busy , preferably high acuity unit . I always recommend CV ICU, SICU as you get to care for patients on numerous pressors, inotropic agents as well as on ECMO, IABP, Impellas, multiple invasive monitoring lines and seriously ill patients. This experience is what the Flight programs count on the RN having, so that you are not stunned when you take a transport and realize that the patient is receiving therapies that you have never seen or heard of. The better the experience, the better Flight nurse specialist you will be and that is really what counts in this specialty.