How to Become a Transport Nurse

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When major trauma occurs, critical patients often have to be transported by air to the nearest medical facility to receive the necessary medical care. Transport nurses are registered nurses that provide medical care to patients who are being transported by airplane or helicopter.


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What does a transport nurse do?

Transport nurses provide the necessary medical care to patients being air transported to medical facilities. They perform evaluations on the patient’s condition, monitor vital signs, administer medication, start intravenous lines, and record all observations and activities in the patient’s medical chart. They administer the necessary first aid procedures and control bleeding and other serious injuries. Transport nurses often educate the public of the dangers of particular sports and professions. Some transport nurses respond to emergencies in hard-to-reach areas. Others provide care to patients that are being transported from one medical facility to another.

What kind of training does a transport nurse need?

Transport nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree program in nursing. All nursing programs provide classroom and laboratory instruction and supervised clinical experiences. Many employers require transport nurses to have at least 3 years of critical care experience. Many transport nurses enroll in Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certification programs. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Many transport nurses also gain professional the Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN) certification from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). Transport nurses must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications, keep their skills current, and stay abreast with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a transport nurse?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 22% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing and aging population and increased need for emergency air transportation services will drive job growth of transport nurses.

Job prospects should be excellent especially for transport nurses with professional certification and extensive experience. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace transport nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do transport nurses make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for transport nurses is $40,000; average annual transport nurse salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a transport nurse is a great choice for people with a strong desire to perform the necessary care to patients being transported by airplanes and helicopters. Transport nurses must have a solid understanding of the policies and procedures of performing transport nursing care. Patience, determination, detail orientation, critical thinking, and good problem solving skills are essential. Transport nurses must be able to work under stressful conditions and have the ability to make effective decisions during emergency situations. They must excellent communication and ability to work as part of a team.

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