Flight nursing


I am a student who is less than 2 weeks till graduation. I will graduate with my Associate's degree in Nursing. I am wondering IF ANYONE has a suggestion what my plans should incude to become a flight nurse. I know that experience is priceless and am nervous about being "on my own". ICU, ER, etc I believe is required and don't think I should immedialty go to work in these areas. Just wondering What You all know has been good/bad pathways to go.:uhoh3:

TazziRN, RN

6,487 Posts

Definitely ICU/ER are requirements; some companies require one or the other, some require both. No reason why you can't go straight into the ER, I did. I don't necessarily recommend it, in hindsight, but no reason why you can't. Just make sure you have at least an 8-week preceptorship, preferably 12 weeks. Not an orientation, a preceptorship. Big difference.

And see if a local mediflight company will let you do a flyalong.

FlyingScot, RN

2,016 Posts

Specializes in Peds/Neo CCT,Flight, ER, Hem/Onc. Has 28 years experience.

If you go up to the top of this page and click on "Specialty" it will bring up a list of nursing specialties in alphabetical order. Look under "Flight Nursing" and you will see quite a few topics that are similar to your question...one very recently posted that has the usual requirements for flight nursing well-described. Remember that all programs are different so the requirements may differ but that difference is usually slight. Good luck!

Specializes in Flight, ER, Transport, ICU/Critical Care.

Hey there Roxroper -

Congratulations on completing your degree! The nursing world awaits you! :)

Flight Nurse.

It is a great job. I'd probably be just as happy on the ground - but, I do find the scenery soothing! (most of the time).

FlyingScot has it right. There is a speciality area and a lot of archived info. Also, check out http://www.flightweb.com - also a great site. Every company is "different" - but the core requirements do not differ that much. (IF you find a company that will hire you without a good deal of experience and credentials - it is most likely not a "good deal"! So be deliberate.)

Here is a plan (this is a multi-tasking plan, so you will be busy!) -

A. ER Nursing. I'd start here at a Level 1 or 2 ASSUMING that they have a remarkable preceptorship/orientation. Do a year or two here. Take the tough stuff - push yourself toward excellence and keep going! Start/finish your BSN and let the hospital pay for it!

B. Get your EMT-Basic (yes, a lot of the medicine is very basic...but, this is as much to save YOUR life as the life of a patient). Do some field time with a 911 provider (no, the $$$ is not good - but, this will help set you apart). If you can actually get a paramedic license this is IDEAL - again, do field time. The letters are nice - but, you will play the way you practice.

C. Do your TNCC/ENPC as you organize your nursing practice. Repeat in a couple of years vs. 4 as required.

D. ACLS, PALS, NRP - Do these early and repeat in a year (you will get more out of 'em).

E. PHTLS - again, it is "vegetable soup" - but this is a good class for the RN that will have to function in the field. Again, rinse and repeat.

F. Head to the ICU after 18 month to 2 years in the ED. Critical care orientation (ECCO) is a big help. Again, have a good preceptor and take the difficult cases as soon as practical. There is some debate on the SICU, CVICU, CCU - I think a generalist approach is best - but, a critical care nurse brain is the key. You develop the "brain" in any of the areas.

G. Any "vegetable soup" (ACLS, PALS, NRP, PHTLS, TNCC, ENPC) instructor credentials are a plus.

H. Board Certification is generally required either - CEN, CCRN. Most recommend CFRN after employed.

I. Get involved. With local, state and national nursing and EMS. Develop relationships and never forget names. Make sure that you "bring it" with everything you do - being an excellent clinician is vital, but being the real deal is more important. When others do a good job - make sure you "recognize" it (I send out "stuff" and notes every week supporting those that support us!)

J. Stay in good shape or get there. I'm not suggesting that "thin" is the only thing. Work hard on being fit - aerobically and your "core". Work on being strong. I gained 10-12# as a firefighter and lost 2 sizes. These "extra" pounds may not be great on the helo, but they make the job easier. I'm lucky that at 150# I'm a size 6 - this is a lot of muscle, but the number still shocks me on the scale. But, I'm keeping it!!!

Once employed, everything has to be maintained. In addition to your "work" expect to spend exceptional time in competencies and additional classes. Also, brush off your PR hat (this is the best part, at times!) - because I find a lot of my time is spent in front of folks (all groups - referral, community and schools) and supporting our referral facilities through clinical activity and professional education.

Tazzi has it. Do a "ride along" if a service in your area allows. It is a sure way to be bitten by the bug!

Good Luck

Practice and (fly) SAFE!


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