If you are committed to studying medicine, like making quick decisions and have a desire for excitement you might be interested in a career as a flight nurse. Job positions are limited and not available everywhere but for a dedicated few, the opportunity to provide comprehensive pre-hospital and emergency nursing aboard a helicopter or airplane is a satisfying career.

“You have to have fast and accurate assessment skills,” vice president and president-elect of the Aerospace Nursing Society, Nora Taylor, RN, BSN, told Clinical Advisor. “Time can be a factor in transporting patients and decisions must be made quickly. Being able to multitask is a plus.”

Most flight nurses are expected to earn an MSN or BSN and have experience in emergency nursing. Becoming a member of the Emergency Nurses Association and taking the Certified Flight RN exam may help increase opportunities.

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Flight nurse duties typically include: assessing patients upon arrival and throughout the flight; projecting possible complications and being alert for those signs and symptoms; maintaining IVs and feeding tubes; medicating and managing dressings or other accoutrements; and providing a comprehensive report to the receiving medical facility.

Although long hours, travel through multiple time zones and flight stress can make this career challenging, Taylor, a retired US Air Force flight nurse noted that developments in the field have resulted in improved patient outcomes.

“We are now able to move seriously injured and ill patients within minutes to hours instead of hours to days, thereby decreasing recovery time and increasing survivability significantly,” she explained

Heather Kempskie is a freelance medical writer.