Frequently Asked Questions
In an effort to assist some of you regarding questions about transport nursing including flight nursing and aeromedicine we have dedicated this section of our website to address those “frequently asked questions” about our unique profession.
To take a look behind the scenes and into the life of a Transport Nurse / Flight Nurse click here
What are some of the common pre-requisites to move into the transport nursing environment?
While all programs are different, and the nursing shortage has caused a change in the overall healthcare environment, most programs require the following:
- License as a registered nurse in the respective State of practice
- 2-3 year’s critical care/emergency experience or applicable acute care nursing environment
- BCLS – Basic Cardiac Life Support
- ACLS – Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certificate
- PALS – Pediatric Advanced Life Support Certificate
- NRP - Neonatal Resuscitation Program
- A nationally recognized trauma program such as TPATC (Transport Nurse Advanced Trauma Course (TPATC), BTLS (Basic Trauma Life Support), PHTLS (Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support), TNCC (Trauma Nurse Core Curriculum)
- Certifications such as Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN), Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN), Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) may be required within six months to one year of hire
Additionally, some programs and/or State’s may require nurses to have EMT-B or
EMT-P (Paramedic) certification.
Specific requirements will vary from program to program and State to State. It is important to check with programs you may be interested in working for to confirm their particular requirements.
If you are a nursing student or a new nurse it is important to keep in mind that focusing on a general area of critical care will be the most advantageous as in the transport environment, depending on the program, the transport nurse may be subjected to a wide variety of patients that include, but are not limited to: neonates, obstetrical patients, children, the elderly, rehab, neurological, cardiac, hospice, organ transplant, trauma, etc.
When it is just you and your partner at the side of a critically ill or injured patient, you need to have the experience, expertise and clinical judgment to be able to develop a proactive plan of care. This proactive plan must to be implemented to provide the best patient care while you are in the air, or on a highway in the back of a ground ambulance.
Additionally, you will need to add in all the factors and skills that will come into play while you are caring for your patient. The ability to conduct rapid assessments and reassessments and the ability to constantly adjust your plan during the transport is the key to success in the transport environment. Remember, it is only you and your team mate, a set of protocols and a voice on the radio or satellite phone from your program medical control physician. This is why you need a strong critical care background coupled with a variety of patient experiences, and a strong ability to think outside the box and persevere.
If I was interested in becoming a flight nurse how would I go about acquiring the required training?
Generally, CPR, ACLS, PALS and PHTLS are offered by local providers in your area, and in some instances flight programs in your area may also offer these certification classes too. There are also a number of on-line companies that offer these certifications, however, as a first time attendee a full day course is usually required.
Other certifications such as the CFRN, CTRN, CCRN, and CEN are provided by their national organizations and exams are usually offered in a computerized format that can be taken locally. However, there are times when these certification exams are also offered at national conferences too. A good source for further information would be through national organizations such as Air and Surface Transport Nurses Association, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, and the Emergency Nurses Association.
Where can I get a listing of employers, flight programs, open positions, etc.?
A good source is the listing of transport programs that is published by AAMS (Association of Air Medical Services). You can contact them directly at 526 King Street, Suite 415, Alexandria, VA 22314-3143. Voice: 703-836-8732, Fax: 703-836-8920. www.AAMS.org
Two other good resources are www.flightweb.com and www.astna.org these particular websites have a wealth of information related to flight programs, job openings, educational offerings, etc.
If your area hospital is affiliated with an aeromedical or critical care ground transport service, it would be beneficial to check with the Program Director or Chief Flight Nurse to verify how open positions are posted for their respective program. In most instances, these programs have websites where you can contact them directly and inquire about open positions or even apply on-line.
How can I get training that is specific to my interest (i.e. ground services, helicopter or fixed-wing)?
Each program is responsible for providing appropriate training for you once you are hired. This training will usually focus on altitude physiology, safety & survival and a host of other topics that are applicable to the unique aeromedical environment. However, in order to expand your knowledge base there are a multitude of conferences, lectures, etc. that are highly recommended to supplement your training. These include, but are not limited to:
Critical Care Transport Medicine Conference (CCTMC) – held in the spring of each year.
Air Medical Transport Conference (AMTC) – held in the fall of each year.
Information about these two major conferences can be obtained from the ASTNA website (www.astna.org) and the Association of Air Medical Services website (www.aams.org).
There are often special programs run by local transport crewmembers related to coursework in Transport Nursing, check with your local college or university to see if there are any specific program offerings in your area.
Are there any courses that have a transport focus that I can take?
ASTNA offers the TPATC (Transport Nurse Advanced Trauma Course ) course, which is geared towards all facets of transport professionals. This course offers overviews on many systems and how transport may affect respective disease processes. While this class caters to transport professionals, those individuals interested in getting into the transport environment will also find the lecture content, case study and role playing of great benefit, as well as gaining TPATC verification. Additionally, this class can prove beneficial for individuals to be able to interact and network with a myriad of different transport professionals and gain insight into a glimpse of a day in the life of transport nursing. Interested participants can view a listing of open classes by logging onto the ASTNA website and viewing the open classes in your respective area. http://www.astna.org/TPATC.html
Lastly, you will find other classes offered regionally or through various program sponsorships.
- Are there professional organizations where I can get more information?
- Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association (ASNTA) www.astna.org
- International Association of Flight Paramedics (IAFCCP) www.iafccp.org
- National EMS Pilots Association (NEMPSA) www.nemspa.org
- Air Medical Physician Association (AMPA) www.ampa.org
- National Association of Aeromedical Communication Specialists (NAACS) www.naacs.org
What publications could I read to learn more about aeromedicine?
What other resources may be available on the internet?
There is a wealth of information available on the worldwide web. The professional organizations websites listed above can provide you with information, educational offerings, etc. Follow the links on various websites, which will provide more resource opportunities.
ASTNA makes every effort to provide valuable answers to all those seeking information about nursing within aeromedicine and the transport community. As an organization we have made a concerted effort to seek out experts within their respective field who may be able to provide you with this information. If you are not seeking specific information please feel free to contact any one of these specialty advisors. If the information you are seeking is more generalized please contact our general office at:
As a nurse it is important to support and advocate for the local and national organizations that are specific to your respective area of practice, or those that you may be interested in for future career opportunities. While there are currently many challenges and changes occurring within the nursing industry, ASTNA remains dedicated to the advancement of the profession of Transport Nursing and supports many of the governmental efforts to encourage the visibility of the nursing profession. ASTNA will continue to work with other professional organizations to promote nursing through our activities, educational offerings, publications and values as an organization.