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Military Flight Nursing?

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I know there was previously a thread on this "flight nursing in the air force?" but it started in 1999 and so is dated. I am graduating in Dec. 2010 and want to become a civilian flight nurse. I realize I face some hurdles: getting a job, getting critical care (ICU and/or ED) experience, and finally finding an opening. Meantime, I have a cousin in the Air Force Reserve, which got me checking into opportunities there. The USAFR performs Air Medical Evacuation flights, taking patients on military transports (C17's) from various locations across the globe to their next stopping point before reaching the U.S. For example, one route goes, I believe, Kandahar, Afghanistan, to Landstuhl, Germany.

Anyway, flight nursing in the USAFR appeals to me because: (1) I ultimately want to be a rotor craft flight nurse; (2) I love to fly; (3) love to travel.

I have some concerns, though. I'm going to be getting a new job and don't want to get crosswise with my new employer about missing too much work. We're going to have a baby in February and I don't want to be gone all the time. I'm also wondering how much the patient care experience will be relevant to civilian rotor craft flight nursing.

Does anyone out there have any thoughts for me? Appreciate your input!

tryingtohaveitall

Specializes in PICU. Has 23 years experience.

My one piece of advice is that once you have that baby, your mindset will likely change drastically. Whereas now you don't want to be gone much, it will be very hard to leave that sweet little baby for 8 hours, much less long flights. I probably wouldn't make huge changes til baby is here. Just my 2 cents

Good luck!

getoverit, BSN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER/ICU/Flight. Has 18 years experience.

I've only flown rotor wing but I would love to be able to join the USAFR and do evacuation flights like you described. I've looked into it, talked to recruiters, etc...but I was in the military and know enough to be skeptical until I see something in writing (and I have 4 kids, my wife might kill me if I left for 6-12 months at a time!!)

You've got the right idea for the path: finish school, get critical care experience then find a good program with a job opening. I don't know how much the patient care experience will benefit you going from international fixed wing flights to rotor. to be honest, I would doubt it from a purely clinical aspect. A thing that will be of benefit to you is the experience on aircraft: being part of the crew, going through survival training, learning and maintaining situational awareness, understanding aviation language, etc. Any program with safety as a first-and-foremost goal will recognize those things and place value on them.

good luck with your endeavors!! you've chosen a very challenging and rewarding career.

and also congrats on the new addition to the family!!

Most of the military flight nurses are Air National Guard or Reserve. You must commit to one weekend per month and 2 weeks annually. You must also attend officers school as well as flight school. You do not need ICU or ER training.

Thanks all for your comments. I contacted the recruiter and found out that I can't really get the application process started until about 2 months after I receive my RN, so I can take some time to think this over. I realize I'm considering a life-changing commitment, so I can ponder with that in mind. Still, I really am excited about the prospect of putting my nursing skills to work for my country and in the air, which is where I love to be!

nurse2033, MSN, RN

Specializes in ER, ICU.

I am in the process of joining the Air National Guard as a flight nurse. Most AF medical transports are not critical care, patients are stabilized before transport. Your best bet is just to get some experience. I agree with getoverit, that experience will not help you get a rotor job. If you can get into an ICU as a new grad all the better. From there you can do anything. Without ICU you will be limited. Most choppers want you to be experienced with balloon pumps and other high end equipment and patients, as well as critical care in peds. I also agree with the first poster you need to take stock with the baby first. As for your new employer you probably already know that they have to accomodate your service, even if they don't like it. I've been putting off changing jobs for this reason but they have to deal with it. Good luck.

rghbsn, BSN, RN

Specializes in Flight/ICU/CCU/ED/Trauma. Has 7 years experience.

i know there was previously a thread on this "flight nursing in the air force?" but it started in 1999 and so is dated. i am graduating in dec. 2010 and want to become a civilian flight nurse. i realize i face some hurdles: getting a job, getting critical care (icu and/or ed) experience, and finally finding an opening. meantime, i have a cousin in the air force reserve, which got me checking into opportunities there. the usafr performs air medical evacuation flights, taking patients on military transports (c17's)(and c-130's and kc-135's and c-5's) from various locations across the globe to their next stopping point before reaching the u.s. for example, one route goes, i believe, kandahar, afghanistan, to landstuhl, germany. we also do relief missions (haiti, katrina, etc) and operate in all areas of the world from south america, to asia, to the aor. any place, any time.

anyway, flight nursing in the usafr appeals to me because: (1) i ultimately want to be a rotor craft flight nurse; (2) i love to fly; (3) love to travel. i can tell you that there are a few aspects of being an af flight nurse that are beneficial to civilian rotor wing, but little of it is clinical. crew resource management, aviation terminology (as previously mentioned), autonomy (to a degree)...you do fly a lot, and travel.

i have some concerns, though. i'm going to be getting a new job and don't want to get crosswise with my new employer about missing too much work. we're going to have a baby in february and i don't want to be gone all the time. i'm also wondering how much the patient care experience will be relevant to civilian rotor craft flight nursing. your employer cannot fire you, demote you, or otherwise harass you for being in the guard or reserves...provided you follow all the rules as well. it's a 2 way street. as far as having a baby in feb, plan on not being able to go to any training until july/august at the earliest (if you were in by then). the first year is a huge time commitment. cot (truncated officer school for officers not of the line), flight school, sere school, water survival, there is another school now called the ftu (you will either go there or get independent upgrade training in your unit instead). you will be on active duty orders long enough to get a lot of these things done, but you will not have time for your other job most likely. many, really all, of these schools are not set up to let you bring your family with you. they are anywhere from 2-5 weeks in length...so if you are breast feeding, you'll have to be done before you can attend them realistically.

does anyone out there have any thoughts for me? appreciate your input!

i fly as a civilian in rotor wing.

i fly as an af flight nurse, too.

the nursing you will get from your civilian job, not from the af. whatever you do as a civilian will be the nursing base that you have when you transport for uncle sam. there are flight nurses that are administrators, ed nurses, floor nurses, pysch nurses, nursing home nurses, etc. you don't get much actual nursing instruction as a afr or ang nurse...you'll learn some helpful flight physiology stuff in flight school you can apply to civilian flying, but that's about it.

the amount of extra "stuff" you have to do for the faa to fly as a civilian is much more than any other nursing specialty i have done (icu, ccu, trauma, ed). the same applies for the af. being a hospital or clinic nurse in the af has many, many fewer requirements than all the "stuff" you have to do to get on flight orders, stay current, etc. not saying it's not worth it, just letting you know that there is a lot of time and energy spent just getting stuff done in both jobs just so you're allowed to flight as a crew member.

the patients you carry as an af flight nurse are indeed stable patients...depending on where they are coming from, that label is variable. stable from a fob is much different than stable from ramstein to andrews...

1 weekend a month and 2 weeks a year is not accurate for the first year at least...after that it depends on your unit and how much you want to fly or spend on missions.

any questions feel free to ask here or on pm.

good luck with your new addition, new job, tough decisions!

Vikingkitten

Specializes in OR, OB, EM, Flight, ICU, PACU....... Has 33 years experience.

I was a Flight Medic in the Army back in the 70's. Loved flying too and the hard work it entailed. Of course, this was in the days before every town and city had an Air Ambulance Service of some kind, so we did a lot of flying for civilians. Lots of transport, some critical care and TA calls in some very remote areas of Texas and New Mexico. I still think the military is the best way to go for training and experience. I know some very experienced Nurses and Paramedics that have been trying for years to break into Flight Nursing as civilians. Anyway, some of the best experiences you'll ever have!

Good luck!