Going to school to be a doctor, but took extreme interest to flight nursing

  1. Hey everyone! I've run into a little dilemma...
    I'll start by giving a little background-
    I've wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember. As a little kid, while my friends still had basic career goals, I aspired to go to Duke and become a neurosurgeon. Things have changed since then but the general scheme still remains. I graduate high school shortly and will then be off to USF to start premed! I'm so motivated and driven to reach my goal of becoming a doctor and I'm finally getting to take the first steps. I'm outrageously excited to say the least! I already got a MCAT study book haha.
    Now when I got my MCAT book, I also stumbled upon the book Trauma Junkie: Memoirs of an Emergency Flight Nurse. I have been completely fascinated in my life by three main things, the world of science and medicine (stemming from watching ER nonstop as a child), flying (I LOVE flying, been to England many times, TOP GUN is my favorite movie ever, etc) and cars. I also considered going into the airforce to become a fighter pilot, or to go to Embry Riddle to be an Aeronautical Engineer minoring in flight. Now I find this career that combines two of my passions into one but just lacks the prestige of either. I feel like I would be limiting my potential as a flight nurse. As a doctor I would have so much more responsibility and control. I'm not going to lie either, the pay difference in monumental.

    I'm just having such a hard time with this right now. I wish "flight doctor" was available.


    I have some questions to help me:
    >What is the starting pay for a flight nurse? Pay potential? I've already done research on this but have found scattered results. I've seen anywhere between $37k/year all the way to $100k/year. According to Salary.com the median salary is ~$65k/year and the 25th and 75th percentiles come in at ~$60k/year and ~$75k/year.
    >I do not have much interest in being a general RN, especially over being a doctor. Is nursing experience mandatory in becoming a flight nurse?

    I would also greatly appreciate anyone's personal opinions on this issue as well.

    Thanks.
    Damon
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    About iMTB

    Joined: May '09; Posts: 2

    8 Comments

  3. by   thinkertdm
    There are flight surgeons, also. I would imagine that any "flight" status might be limited due to economic conditions.
    The best way would be to join the military. There's pretty much non stop action there, much more than their civilian counterparts, which I believe are very difficult to find. Also, I am not sure how many flight nurses are full time.

    But most importantly, while its admirable that you have so many passions, I would suggest you try to get some real world experience in those fields rather than books, tv, and movies. Second hand experience is one thing, being there in person, covered in blood, trying to stop the person from dying is another. Some people, while loving the idea of it, just can't handle that.
  4. by   us3Rbent
    I totally agree with the above post. Time and experience will lead the way for you. That's something you really have to do and feel to know what you enjoy doing as a career. You're still very young, use your time wisely Damon. Money isn't everything. It didn't come across in your message why you really want to be a doc or a nurse.
  5. by   loveshospital
    I'm a little bit older than and I think that what your going through now is fascination period with the book that you read,been there done there,and many times I have been inspired by events book etc (my latest is the idea of getting married in an old church in Russia after reading this one russian masterpiece) but anyway what I'm trying to tell that I would not give my my long-time dream especially if I felt that I was born to do it.As a doctor you will have so many more oppportunities and you can get your own little plane or take flying lessons.Once you start taking other classes it will be hard for you to go back medical school since it takes years to become a doctor and you should try to pursue medicine field as soon as possibly,ideally right out of HS
  6. by   iMTB
    I completely agree with you about the expirience. I am certain that I have been desensitized enough to the gore involved. I have been what you would call an adrenaline jukie since I was very young. This exposed me to people getting some pretty grusome injuries. I myself have cut my hand open and it bled enough that it caused my friend to pass out. I remained calm and did my best to stop the bleeding. I then sat and watched myself get stitched up in awe. I also ripped a large portion of skin off of my arm that resulted in 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns.
    I have always been concerned with others needs and tried my best to help them. My aunt is a nurse and when I was younger I asked her to teach my simple first aid, so if people got hurt biking, skateboarding or anything like that I participated in I would have some ability to help. I am a deep and caring person and I connect well with others on an emotional level as well and love helping people work out their problems.
    I am a bit obsessed with science and medicine...I read my entire Anatomy textbook...I didn't even read half of the books we were required to read in my english classes. I have been borrowing books from my aunt for years and reading them. I even have a tattoo of a epinephirine molecule! haha I want a job where everything is out of control and it is my job to bring it back in control.
    I have some very expensive hobbies and I need a well paying career to keep up with them. I'm not going to say I don't care about the money because I do. I could easily be a firefighter or an EMT and love my job, but they just don't pay enough. I want a nice house, very nice cars, not have to worry about not being able to support my family, etc.
    I'm responding at work on my phone so I apoligize for any errors I may have made.

    Damon
  7. by   thinkertdm
    Hi Damon!
    If you are very, highly motivated and need the adrenalin, you could always try the special forces route as a medic, or something along those lines.
    While they don't make a lot of money (comparatively), they will certainly get into all kinds of "exciting" situations, and they will actually pay you to do them.
  8. by   icyounurse
    I looked into doing that, and the jobs I saw posted (few and far between by the way) for "flight nursing" require extensive RN experience in in a critical care setting, plus some national certifications and such. Its not something you can generally do right out of nursing school I dont think. I certainly wouldnt go to nursing school just to do it if you have no interest in nursing.

    Have you ever heard of the air force pararescue positions?? My husband is in paramedic school and he has been looking at that. They are very elite and participate in search and rescue missions involving parachuting out of a plane with medical supplies and scuba diving, ect ect. The pay is high but only the elite will make it to the position. Just a thought.
  9. by   bekindtokittens
    Just this week in my clinical, we had a flight nurse and a flight paramedic talk to our clinical group. They said if any of us were interested in becoming flight nurses, we should get 3-5 years in critical care experience as a nurse first, in the ICU or ED.
  10. by   QT3.14RNinCA
    All my life I also wanted to become a Physician. I was driven, adventurous, graduated at the top of my class and had a solid research background under my belt before I entered college. I did well in college, joined the military as a Reservist, applied to, and got accepted to 3 of the better known Medical Schools. During my applications process to Med School I was asked "Why do you want to be a Doctor?" I didn't really have a good answer because there was nothing else I wanted to be. I began to do a lot of soul searching. This landed me in the world of nursing. I've not regretted that decision once. I live a great life as an RN where I work 3 days a week, get paid well and have time to have a life. My path as an RN is flexible...I can change specialties easily. The career I have as an RN is my design.

    I disagree with you that being a flight nurse (or any other type of nurse) carries less prestige than being a Doctor. Sure, you get to be called Doctor and have all the responsibilities along with the pay scale. But stop and think about the process of Med School. It will take several years before you become an attending in your chosen specialty. Once you've chosen that specialty, you will need to build a practice ... it will take years before you reap your rewards. You will be in debt (unless you're financially able to support yourself withouth loans), your malpractice insurance is more and you will have all the responsibilities (this is both good and bad).

    Prestige is subjective. Being an RN is different that being an MD. Nurses get to really know their patients in a way MDs don't. Being an MD is simply different, not better and not worse. There's prestige in both.

    You need to do a lot of self examination and get some experience before you decide if Medicine, Nursing or something else is right for you. Your Undergrad years will change you...enjoy the experience. Your "Pre-Med" major gives you a good foundation in the sciences but you need that "something extra" to be competitive in Med School. In the year I applied, I knew many people with solid GPAs who didn't get accepted. In the end, I hope you choose a profession because it's what you love doing. There's nothing like waking up in the morning and loving what you do because that's where the prestige truly lies.

    Good luck to you.

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