How to become

How to Become a Flight Nurse

How to Become a Flight Nurse

What exactly is a Flight Nurse?

Registered nurses with special training in providing medical care while transporting patients in either rotor (helicopter) or fixed-wing (plane) aircraft are known as flight nurses or transport nurses. To ensure that patients are well-cared for during transportation and arrive at their final destination safely, flight nurses collaborate with other qualified medical professionals such as paramedics and doctors. They are frequently requested to assist with the transportation of seriously ill or injured patients to trauma hospitals.

From the scene of an accident or while being transported from one hospital to another, these skilled nurses offer full pre-hospital, emergency critical care, and hospital-level care. They frequently have a wide range of patient populations to care for.

To learn more about this fascinating speciality, including what it takes to succeed and all the reasons to pursue it, we chatted with flight nurse Kelley Holdren. Kelley Holdren has assisted many individuals in surviving some of their hardest days as a flight nurse. The majority of Holdren’s patients were in life-or-death circumstances while under her care since patient transfer typically happens in emergency situations or severe trauma.

What Does a Flight Nurse Do?

Together with their partners, flight nurses do daily inspections of the aircraft and equipment. Cleaning the on-call rooms, organising the office and refrigerator, washing the planes, and verifying the expiration dates of all supplies and prescriptions are just a few of the daily responsibilities.

The crew will wait until they are asked to assist with a transfer before leaving. Although some schools offer instruction through flight simulation, most training is done on the job.

As a flight nurse, you essentially do the same tasks you would in an ER or ICU but in a much smaller setting and with far less equipment.

What Are a Flight Nurse’s Responsibilities and Tasks?

Give patients who require air transportation urgent medical attention, including evaluation, triage, and treatment.

Maintain and arrange patient records and documentation.

While travelling, provide first assistance, place IVs, administer resuscitation, and more.

Upkeep of aircraft supplies and equipment.

May help the pilot with activities like radio communication.

Aid in safely boarding and ejecting patients from the aircraft.

Make sure the patient is secured onboard safely.

Track vital signs.

Effective teamwork and patient communication.

Flight Nurse Employment and Salary

A flight nurse’s annual salary ranges from $50,161 to $95,605. This sort of nurse makes an average yearly pay of $68,050. The region, level of experience, and kind of company all influence exact wage ranges.

The employment future for flight nurses is favourable due to the expansion of nursing as a whole. Although there isn’t a lot of turnover in this kind of job, new private businesses are starting up and seeking nurses for the speciality. Transport nursing is a good fit for nurses who like delivering emergency treatment and prefer a more active setting than a hospital or doctor’s office.

What Skills Must a Flight Nurse Have?

Depending on what kind of nurse they want to be, where they will work, and other factors, flight nurses will require different specific talents. For people who desire to work as flight nurses, there are extra education and training requirements that include:

Reanimation of newborns

advanced life support for children

modern cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Intensive prehospital care for trauma

Training with a ventilator Rotations doing overnight and on-call shifts

Critical care and trauma experience

strong leadership, especially in challenging circumstances

Excellent communication in all kinds of settings

The ability to fly can be useful.

Flight nurses must meet specific standards for their position that many other nurses do not. Flight nurses have more stress due to emergency transportation scenarios even though they work with the same types of patients as emergency nurses.

Salary and Job Growth for Flight Nurses

Flight nurses are not particularly covered by the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), but the BLS database reveals that RNs as a whole earn median annual wages of roughly $73,300. According to data gathered by PayScale, flight nurses make an average of $71,353 per year. Additionally, according to PayScale statistics, flight nurses often earn between $58,000 and $102,000 annually.

Additionally, the BLS forecasts that from 2019 to 29 there may be an additional 222,000, or 7%, RN positions available. According to the BLS, this anticipated rise is due to the growing number of baby boomers who will need more medical care as they become older.

Education Needed to Become a Flight Nurse

You must have an ADN or a BSN to be an RN, which is required to work as a flight nurse. However, businesses increase want for flight nurses with the training and credentials that come with a bachelor’s degree.

There are several ADN and BSN programmes offered around the country. Although the structure, content, and price of programmes might vary, all authorised programmes are designed to get aspiring nurses ready for the NCLEX-RN test.

Nursing Associate Degree

Prerequisites: An ACT or SAT score as well as a high school diploma or GED are prerequisites. Prospective students may be qualified for an expedited path to an ADN if they already hold a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) credential. In most cases, applicants must also clear a background investigation and drug test.

Curriculum: Common core subjects include anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, psychology, and sociology.

Clinical Requirements: The majority of programmes call for 700 hours of clinical experience, which must be gained in a variety of settings, including a simulation lab and a healthcare facility like a hospital.

Duration: The ADN usually requires two years to finish. Current LPN licence holders might be able to finish the curriculum sooner.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Prerequisites for a nursing bachelor’s degree: BSN schools may have certain GPA and SAT/ACT score requirements in addition to the aforementioned ADN requirements. Additionally, prerequisite courses in mathematics, biology, chemistry, anatomy, and physiology could be needed.

Curriculum: Classes in BSN programmes often advance students past the level of the ADN degree. Numerous courses are offered in leadership, population health, evidence-based practise, ethics, and healthcare policy.

Clinical Requirements: A BSN normally requires between 700 and 800 hours of clinical training, however this might change. Programs must make sure their clinical hours adhere to both accreditation standards and local state regulations.

Duration: Traditional BSN programmes are generally completed in four years. For students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another discipline, several universities and institutions now offer accelerated programmes that may be finished in as little as 12 months.

Becoming a flight nurse:

A job as a flight nurse can be a wonderful option for you if you love nursing and helping people, perform well under pressure, and can collaborate closely with colleagues in a fast-paced setting. You can take the following steps to get started on the road to a rewarding new career:

1. Be familiar with the position: what does a flight nurse do?

Flight nurses care for seriously sick or injured patients in a dangerous setting. Patients of a flight nurse frequently have significant trauma that necessitates rapid evacuation from an accident scene to a medical facility or quickly between medical facilities.

Flight nurses provide emergency care, stabilise patients as much as they can during transfer, and get patients ready for treatment. Starting IVs, giving medicine, and doing advanced resuscitation procedures like CPR are examples of basic responsibilities.

A patient may be moved to a larger medical institution if he or she requires a life-saving therapy that is not offered at the initial hospital. In these circumstances, the medical staff at the receiving institution and the flight nurses collaborate. In addition to creating case notes and patient files, the nurse may assist in getting the patient ready for treatment.

A flight nurse’s daily responsibilities also include inspecting the aircraft and its equipment, cleaning the on-call rooms, verifying the expiration dates of medications, and making sure the aircraft is prepared for patients.

2. Obtain a nursing diploma

You must first have a nursing degree in order to work as a flight nurse. Earning an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN, or ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing will allow you to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) (BSN).

For students interested in nursing, Herzing University provides a number of routes, including:

Nursing associate degree programme. To enter the field faster, earn an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN).

Nursing bachelor’s degree programme. Enroll in a 3-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, which is offered both on-campus and online. We also have a second degree nursing programme for individuals with a BS in another discipline who want to transfer into nursing as well as an online RN to BSN bridge programme for existing associate degree RNs who want to obtain their BSN more quickly.

LPN to BSN and LPN to ADN/ASN programmes are available to LPNs. Depending on your course load, you might finish your nursing degree in 12 to 32 months.

Paramedic to BSN option is available to them. Your prior work as a paramedic or EMT might be an asset in your pursuit of a job as a flight nurse.

3. Achieve RN status by passing the NCLEX-RN test.

The NCLEX-RN test must be taken and passed in order to become a registered nurse in legal terms. State regulatory bodies utilise this standardised exam to decide if students are qualified to become licenced nurses.

You can begin applying for employment once you pass the test and satisfy the state board of nursing standards.

4. Acquire practical nursing experience

Employers can be looking for candidates with a few years of ICU or ER experience. Aspiring flight nurses can get the skills necessary to handle a fast-changing flow of patients with a range of care requirements by working in these regions or on a trauma unit. Understanding the fundamentals of flight and navigation might also be useful.

Flight nurses are not currently obliged to be certified, however certification might help you make more money and maintain your competitiveness in the employment market. Obtaining certification as a certified flight registered nurse (CFRN) from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing will allow you to demonstrate your proficiency in flight nursing (BCEN).

A master’s degree is currently not required to work as a flight nurse, but it can increase your pay and earning potential.


How challenging is training to be a flight nurse?

Being a flight nurse requires a significant commitment. Flight nurses require the necessary educational background, years of experience, and certification before they can enter the sector.

What is the length of training to become a flight nurse?

To become a flight nurse, you might expect to need between 5 and 12 years. Some people who have an ADN and three years of experience can become flight nurses in five years. However, this occupation often requires additional training due to the demanding nature of the work. A four-year bachelor’s degree is frequently pursued by flight nurses, and they must have at least five years of experience. About nine years should pass for RNs to become a flight nurse.

How long are flight nurses on duty for?

Depending on where they work, they may be able to perform 24-hour shifts and six to eight shifts each month.

Is working as a flight nurse risky?

Flight nursing involves several dangers, including those related to aeroplane crashes and external variables like weather.

Could an LPN work as a flight nurse?

LPNs who want to work as flight nurses must become RNs. An LPN-RN curriculum can be used to accomplish this.

What credentials are required to work as a flight nurse?

As you wait to take your CFRN, Basic Life Support (BLS), Pediatric Advance Life Support (PALS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and Transport Professional exams, consider becoming a Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) or Critical Care Nurse (CCRN).

Does the weight of flight nurses have a limit?

Yes, the majority of programmes demand that flight nurses weigh no more than 250 pounds.

How long does it take to be a flight nurse?

Becoming a flight nurse might take anywhere between 5 to 12 years.

Is becoming a flight nurse competitive? 

Although flight nursing professions are quite competitive, you can launch your career into the air and become a flight nurse with the correct education, training, and abilities.

How do you become a nurse on a plane?

Think about taking these actions Earn a degree, get experience, and become certified as a flight nurse before expressing interest in the position.

Are flight nurses high in demand?

Yes, there is a significant demand for flight nurses.

Flight nurse training program

The advanced practice level nurses who will work in the critical care transport context will be introduced to advanced critical care through the flying training programme.

Flight nurse salary

The starting base pay for a flight nurse is between $80,220 and $101,510, with an average starting base pay of $90,380.

Flight nurse death rate

An average flight nurse’s likelihood of being involved in a death is about 3.5%.

Flight nurse height requirement 

According to certain businesses, the average height is 6’2″, but this varies by organization and aircraft.

Flight nurse jobs

The need for jobs providing the best in-flight treatment possible for patients who are seriously unwell. Flight nurses should be highly experienced and able to communicate medical information clearly.