A flight nurse provides medical care to patients while on board an aircraft. This individual might take care of critically ill patients or simply escort travelers from one destination to another. With such a wide array of possibilities, this is one particular career that can be exciting.
A Brief History
Flight nurses were first utilized during World War II, when aircraft began being used to evacuate wounded soldiers. At that time, nurses were a part of the Women’s Army Corps, which meant that all flight nurses involved in the war effort were female. After the war ended, medical facilities began using helicopters to evacuate critically ill or injured private citizens. The military continued to use flight nurses, and the practice also expanded to other entities such as private companies, thereby opening up a host of new job opportunities.
A flight nurse can perform a variety of tasks ranging from monitoring vital functions to administering life-saving treatment. In critically ill patients, this could involve stabilizing an individual until the crew is able to reach a medical facility or hospital. Some nurses assist flight surgeons in performing delicate operations while on board an aircraft. A flight nurse can also be called on to escort patients who are unable to travel without assistance get from one airport to the next.
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The working conditions vary based upon the type of medical care being provided. In general, these nurses spend a great deal of time inside an aircraft performing medical care. They may also work in an administrative setting on the ground in order to prepare for future flights. Flight nurses could be expected to spend equal amounts of time sitting and standing, and might also perform heavy lifting when moving or transporting patients.
Flight nurses must be able to communicate well with others in order to provide the proper care to patients. It is also important for this nurse to be able to cope well under pressure, since many patients may be experiencing extreme trauma. Good organizational skills are necessary to ensure that the needed supplies and equipment are always on hand. An ability to adapt to ever-changing circumstances is also helpful as a nurse might travel to numerous locations, thereby facing weather and cultural changes along the way.
Over the next decade, the number of positions available for flight nurses is expected to see moderate growth. While there is little turnover in this industry, there are always new opportunities becoming available as more private companies elect to invest in hiring these nurses. Since the nursing field is ever-expanding, this will also lead to an increased number of positions for flight nurses to hold.
Flight nurses hold an important position when it comes to ensuring the health and safety of passengers on board aircraft. While this job can be mentally and physically challenging at times, it is nonetheless a very rewarding career for those who have the courage to pursue it.