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Flight/Transport Nursing

What is Flight/Transport Nursing?

Flight and transport nursing are both types of emergency nursing. These nurses work mainly on ambulances, helicopters, and other rescue vehicles, and may spend much of their time in the field. Flight and transport nurses may also work in the emergency room. This nursing specialization is fast-paced and exciting.

Flight and transport nurses are likely to see a wide variety of illnesses and injuries, many of which might be life-threatening. These nurses are some of the first healthcare professionals to care for patients after they are rescued from emergency situations, as they provide care on the way to hospital. These nurses may also be responsible for monitoring patients during ground or air transport from one facility to another. This is a great specialization for a nurse who thrives in a challenging and sometimes chaotic environment.

What Makes Up a Flight/Transport Nurse Job Description?

The job of flight and ground transport nurses is to care for patients en route to hospital or healthcare facility. These nurses accompany the ambulance, helicopter, or other rescue vehicle to emergencies and provide care in the vehicle. Flight and transport nurses may travel to car accidents, fires, various health emergencies, and between healthcare facilities when patients require transfer. Since they are among the first on the scene, much of their job involves stabilizing and assessing patients.

What Are the Education and Certification Requirements?

The first step in becoming a flight or transport nurse is to become a registered nurse. In order to do this, one must graduate from an accredited registered nursing program with a diploma, associate's degree, or a bachelor's degree. After completing an RN program, he or she must pass the NCLEX-RN and apply for a license.

According to Johnson & Johnson, some employers require flight or transport nurses to also have Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or paramedic certification. The Air & Transport Nurses Association (ATNA), lists a number of emergency care and life support certifications that might be required by healthcare facilities, and states that many employers require 2-3 years of critical care or emergency experience in order to work as a flight or transport nurse.

There are additional certifications available for flight or transport nurses. The Board of Certification for Emergency Nurses (BCEN) offers the CFRN for flight nurses and the CTRN for ground transport nurses. The BCEN recommends two years experience as a flight or transport nurse before applying to take the CFRN or CTRN examination. Once earned, the certification is good for 4 years. Those who work in both flight and ground transport are free to choose whichever certification they feel is more appropriate.

What is the Average Salary?

According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a Flight/Transport Nurse is $54,000. Salary information is subject to change, and varies by employer, location, and the individual's education and experience level.

What is the Job Outlook?

The job outlook for both registered nurses and EMTs or Paramedics is excellent. Since flight and transport nurses are registered nurses who fulfill responsibilities similar to EMTs and Paramedics, one can predict that job growth for this skilled nursing specialty will be positive.

  • Air and Surface Transport Nurses Association: This site links to the Air and Surface Transport Nurses Association, which is also referred to as the National Flight Nurses Association. On this site you will find a wide range of educational resources and publications. You also have the option of becoming a member.
  • Registered Nurses: This is a link to the official entry in the Occupational Outlook Handbook on registered nurses as provided and put together by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here you will find a wide range of information from the nature of the work a registered nurse performs to the educational requirements and reported wage information.
  • Association of Air Medical Services: This links to the official site for the Association of Air Medical Services. This is an international association that serves medical transport systems providers. On this site you will find links to educational materials and publications.
  • American Nurses Association: The website of the American Nurses Association which is the largest nursing organization in the United States.
  • The Advanced Practice Flight Nurse Program: This links to program information as provided by Case Western Reserve University. This site provides you with information on what to expect when enrolling in a program at this level. 
  • Nursing Degree Programs: This links to the informational page at Wright State University. This page explains, in detail, the basics of the nursing programs, including the option for the specialization in flight and disaster nursing.
  • Flight Nurse Turnover: This is an article as provided by the University of Michigan that discusses the career of flight nurses including where they go, why and what they do.