One of the most exciting and rewarding military jobs is flight nursing. Imagine working in an ICU at 20,000 feet in the air? or flying at 185 MPH in a helicopter and managing a ventilator patient. Are you ready for a challenge? Because if the adrenaline charged life of a flying nurse is what you are looking for then the U.S. Air Force has a job for you. While the army, navy and coast guard also have nurses who work as flying nurses the primary service for this job is the Air Force.
In order to be a nurse in the military you must be accepted by the military and sworn in as a nursing officer. You must be a registered nurse. If you are accepted by the military you will already have a Bachelors degree in Nursing. The military branch currently accepting two year RN degrees is the U.S. Army Reserve.
You will be required to attend and pass the Air Force Flight Nurse School and be able to pass a flight physical. If you are in the military and meet height and weight standards you won't have to worry about the usual weigh less than 200-220 pounds required of civilian flight nursing candidates. Other requirements that will be useful include the ability to handle stressful situations, make independent decisions and enjoy being autonomous.
Civilian flight nurses need to acquire 2-5 years of ICU and Emergency room experience. They also need to have ACLS, PALS, TNCC, and BLS certifications. Many states also require nurses to have an EMT-Paramedic designation in addition to being an RN.
Flight nurses participate in planning and preparing aero-medical evacuation flights and are the senior medical staff member on most military medevac flights. They provide routine and emergency nursing care to patients on medical flights. Advanced knowledge of trauma support, drugs and medical treatment are a must for this profession.
Once you have become a flight nurse you will want to get your Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN) designation. Other certifications or special training that is helpful include pre-hospital advanced lifesupport (PHTLS), Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN), Basic Trauma Life Support (BTLS), Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) and the Neonatal Resuscitation Course (NRC).
Flight nursing is a very competitive position in the military and it may not be easy to join up and go straight to flight school. If you don't get it in writing in your initial contract the military does not have to send you to flight school. So be sure your recruiter puts it in writing that you will get flight school as soon as you successfully complete officer basic training. If you join and you are not guaranteed flight nurse school you can still go by applying for flight school. While you are waiting for acceptance to flight school be sure to talk to your career manager and have them get you assignments in ICU and Emergency Department settings until you are accepted. The ICU and Emergency room experience will work in your favor when the selection board is looking at your resume.