Advantages of a Career in Transport and Flight Nursing

Updated on May 5, 2020
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty uses advanced degrees in preventive medicine, psychology, and TCM in research and treatment for public and private health agencies.

US Air Force Maj. Deveril Wint, operations flight commander of the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron was the Commemorative Air Force Dolly Vinsant Flight Nurse of the Year for 2013.
US Air Force Maj. Deveril Wint, operations flight commander of the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron was the Commemorative Air Force Dolly Vinsant Flight Nurse of the Year for 2013. | Source

Changes in Transport and Flight Nursing

Transport nursing began as "flight nursing," and the larger employment sector is said to be "air and surface transport nursing."

This work includes critical care, emergency services, and disaster response medical services. It includes not only registered nurses (RNs), but also EMTs and paramedics. This field of medical work began to gel noticeably in the 1990s with the increase in US population, the increase in senior citizens in the aging populace, Middle Eastern wars, and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

The workplace can include hospital ships, emergency squad vehicles and ambulances, government winged and helio-aircraft (particularly in wartime), commercial airliners, charter planes, hospital helicopters, prison vehicles, and others. "Life Flight" services include quick helicopter delivery of patients and/or transplant organs to surgical arenas in a fashion timely enough to prevent death. On the other end of the transport spectrum, nurses may aid in delivering patients from one department in a medical center to another department.

Flight Nurse of the Year

US Air Force Maj. Deveril Wint, operations flight commander of the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron was the Commemorative Air Force Dolly Vinsant Flight Nurse of the Year for 2013.

The Pay Rate

Salary.com lists the average yearly wage of transport nurses in the US to range from $60,000 to about $75,000.

This does not count any perks, additional benefits that may be offered, hotel stays, and transportation expenses that would be covered by the client and the client's family.

Job openings are increasing in number, as of 2017.

US Navy Hospital Ship SS HOPE in 1964.
US Navy Hospital Ship SS HOPE in 1964. | Source

Medical Escort and Evacuation

Certain companies specialize in hiring out nurses that work in both domestic and international patient transport capacities around the clock.

Medical escort nurses often work on commercial airliners, accompanying patients in their journeys. Like travel nurses, they likely earn a highly daily rate of pay than do most nurses that work in hospitals and clinics, They also have the opportunity of traveling to interesting locations at the customer's expense. Both of these are advantages over ground nursing.

Nurses on SS Relief in 1898; US Army Hospital Ships Used Transport Nurses Early On
Nurses on SS Relief in 1898; US Army Hospital Ships Used Transport Nurses Early On | Source

Medical escort nurses help patients that have difficulty moving or experience orthopedic conditions. They may also need to care for those with behavioral disorders and neurological conditions. They may help with oxygen and respiratory machinery.

Some patients must be lifted from mobility devices in and out of vehicles. IV saline and medications will be administered in some cases throughout the journey. These RNs must be experienced and well prepared, which helps their careers in an intense way to become more successful.

During WWII, AAF School of Air Evacuation at Bowman Field, Ky., student flight nurses learned how to handle patients.
During WWII, AAF School of Air Evacuation at Bowman Field, Ky., student flight nurses learned how to handle patients. | Source
Medical Evacuation at LSU in Baton Rouge, LA in 2008.
Medical Evacuation at LSU in Baton Rouge, LA in 2008.

Job Requirements

Generally, in order to work in the field of transport nursing in the air or on the surface (land and sea), nurses must have an active RN's license, proof of advanced recent training in life support, and substantial work experience in emergency and critical care services.

These nurses particularly must function effectively as part of a medical team, or risk losing the patients' lives. This is a team that must often:

  1. Transport hurt/sick individuals from remote areas (disasters, war fields, ski slopes, mountains) to medical centers,
  2. Evacuate injured people from disasters,
  3. Provide effective medical support one or more patients that must have continuous care, and
  4. Provide care to adults, children, and infants.

These are life and death situations.

Increasingly, these nurses attain the BSN degree, and some go onto the Master’s Degree in Flight Nursing. This latter diploma combines the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner course with an intense focus on emergency skills and disaster settings. Bioterrorism is a priority for treatment as well.

With all of these skills, training, certification, and experiences, transport nurses are extremely valuable workers.

Transport Nurse Jobs Spiked in 2014 at 650% Increase
Transport Nurse Jobs Spiked in 2014 at 650% Increase | Source

Transport nurse jobs spiked in 2014 with a 650% increase.

Employment and Training

The Dean of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, declares Flight Nursing and Transport Nursing (Air and Surface) to be a rapidly growing field of endeavor.

In 2002, her school began the first degreed flight nurses' training program in America.

Because of specialization in practice and the reorganization of healthcare America, we have a smaller number of medical centers that can provide emergency, trauma, and critical care services, Therefore, additional staff must transport patients to centers that can and do.

Read more about Dean May Wykle and her nursing programs at The Sky's the Limit.

Space Shuttle Medical Support Team transport Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Johnny Stewart to treatment area.
Space Shuttle Medical Support Team transport Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Johnny Stewart to treatment area. | Source

Relevant Labor Markets: US, Canada, and UK

Best Hiring US Companies

  1. PSA Healthcare
  2. Kaiser Permanente
  3. Christus Health
  4. Alacare Home Health & Hospice
  5. Tenet Healthcare
  6. Massachusetts General Hospital
  7. Air Methods
  8. Cleveland Clinic Foundation
  9. INTEGRIS Health
  10. Intermountain Healthcare
  11. Genesis Healthcare
  12. Catholic Health Initiatives
  13. Omniflight
  14. HCA Midwest Health System

Largest American Markets

  1. San Antonio
  2. Boston
  3. Houston
  4. Denver
  5. Seattle
  6. Baltimore
  7. Salt Lake City
  8. Cleveland, Ohio
  9. Shreveport
  10. Philadelphia
  11. Albuquerque
  12. Corpus Christi
  13. Fort Worth
  14. Wilmington, North Carolina

Texas is the state with the highest demand for Transport Nurses, listing openings in 5 cities: San Antonio, Houston, Corpus Christi, and Fort Worth.

Largest Relevant Hiring Companies in Canada

  1. Canadian Forces - The Canadian Military Services
  2. Vancouver Coastal Health
  3. Interior Health
  4. SimplexGrinnell
  5. Agence Continuum Inc.
  6. Interior Health Authority
  7. Bon Secours Baltimore Health System
  8. Intercare Corporate Group
  9. Unika
  10. Maxi/Provigo/Loblaws
  11. Multi Options Nursing

Largest Canadian Markets

  1. Sechelt, BC
  2. Squamish, BC
  3. Central, ON
  4. Powell River, BC
  5. Dartmouth, NS
  6. Toronto, ON
  7. Calgary, AB
  8. St. John's, NL
  9. Quebec, QC
  10. Medicine Hat, AB
  11. Saint-Camillus, QC
  12. Windsor, ON
  13. Trois-rivieres, QC

Largest UK Hiring Companies

  1. StaffNurse.com
  2. Academics Ltd
  3. Eclypse Recruitment
  4. Geneva Health
  5. Capita Resourcing Ltd
  6. HCL International
  7. Job G8
  8. search.co.uk
  9. STR Health Ltd
  10. NHS Lincolnshire
  11. Basingstoke & North Hampshire NHS Foundation Trust
  12. Oxfordshire PCT
  13. UK Healthcare Professionals
  14. JP Recruit

Largest UK Markets

  1. London
  2. Dartford
  3. Bristol
  4. City of London
  5. Horsham
  6. Basingstoke
  7. Reading
  8. Newcastle upon Tyne
  9. North East England
  10. North West London
  11. Plymouth
  12. Nottingham
  13. Derby
  14. South West England

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2009 Patty Inglish MS

Comments & Opinions

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    • thecnatraining profile image

      thecnatraining 

      8 years ago from Vancouver

      wow, i did not know that transport nurses can make up to $70k+! also i live in BC Canada now and that canadian list is mostly BC lol. Anyways great hub!

    • Aisla profile image

      Aisla 

      9 years ago from Norway

      Great information. Thank you. I hope that my information on negative pressure wound therapy can be of interest to some of your readers.

    • profile image

      Devid 

      9 years ago

      Hello, I'm searching for diet related blogs like mine

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @Hello, hello - I knew little about it myself until I looked around a bit. Finding the college in Ohio was great. With all the wars we're having and with the aging populaiton, I think we really need a lot more pros in this field.

      @Cosmo Freebird - It's a more lucrative option that I'd known in the past. Glad the question was asked.

    • Cosmo Freebird profile image

      Cosmo Freebird 

      10 years ago

      Love the hub. It shows yet another option open through a career in nursing.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      10 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a complete different subject I never even thought about it, leave alone knew anything about it. Very, very interesting.

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