Guardians0111
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Hello!

I've found a career known as flight nurse, I wanted to know what is better; becoming a paramedic and then doing hems / air ambulance training or become a nurse and becoming a flight nurse?

Does anyone have any knowledge about this? Or what they would suggest to do?
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Frazzle27
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Flight nurses are a very niche area of nursing that is either new to the UK or very rare. I honestly hadn't heard of it until you mentioned it here and the only thing that came up was flight nurses for Ireland?

HEMS paramedics usually assist doctors in air ambulances that usually attend serious calls (e.g. massive trauma, cardiac arrest etc...). It is usually a role reserved for experienced paramedics (usually around 3-5 years experience or more) who have usually done additional qualifications (e.g. masters or, more commonly, diploma in immediate medical care from the RCSE).

The paramedic route through to HEMS is much more established, would be exciting and has a lot to offer clinically in the UK. I don't have much to say about flight nurses as I know little about it, but it seems like it would be a lot harder to get into. If it is similar to flight paramedics in the US, then I assume it involves keeping patients stable as they are transported between facilities.

As for what is better? That is up to you and depends on what you want to do. I am training to be a paramedic, so I am obviously biased towards HEMS. I suggest doing a bit of research on google about the roles.
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Guardians0111
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(Original post by Frazzle27)
Flight nurses are a very niche area of nursing that is either new to the UK or very rare. I honestly hadn't heard of it until you mentioned it here and the only thing that came up was flight nurses for Ireland?

HEMS paramedics usually assist doctors in air ambulances that usually attend serious calls (e.g. massive trauma, cardiac arrest etc...). It is usually a role reserved for experienced paramedics (usually around 3-5 years experience or more) who have usually done additional qualifications (e.g. masters or, more commonly, diploma in immediate medical care from the RCSE).

The paramedic route through to HEMS is much more established, would be exciting and has a lot to offer clinically in the UK. I don't have much to say about flight nurses as I know little about it, but it seems like it would be a lot harder to get into. If it is similar to flight paramedics in the US, then I assume it involves keeping patients stable as they are transported between facilities.

As for what is better? That is up to you and depends on what you want to do. I am training to be a paramedic, so I am obviously biased towards HEMS. I suggest doing a bit of research on google about the roles.
I did wonder about flight nurses as I haven't seen much online about them.

Is being a HEMS paramedic a good career? Do you get to do lots of clinical procedures or is it mostly overviewing what has happened? How do you get to do those other qualifications?
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Guardians0111
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Can you move outside of the UK to be a flight nurse?
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moonkatt
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Most flight nurses in the uk do the role alongside a permanent job in the NHS, usually as critical care nurses. Most employers want a fair amount of experience, a post reg critical care course and ALS provider status. It’s a contracting market at the moment, with less international travel going on at the moment. They do repatriation flights of people who have become unwell or injured on holiday, sometimes these patients will be critically ill (intubated, ventilated, on pressors etc).

If you want to do prehospital stuff, then paramedics is the best route to take, while some services recruit nurses to their air ambulances, they’re highly competitive posts to go for so having pre hospital experience is valuable (it is doable as a nurse, but harder).
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Guardians0111
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(Original post by moonkatt)
Most flight nurses in the uk do the role alongside a permanent job in the NHS, usually as critical care nurses. Most employers want a fair amount of experience, a post reg critical care course and ALS provider status. It’s a contracting market at the moment, with less international travel going on at the moment. They do repatriation flights of people who have become unwell or injured on holiday, sometimes these patients will be critically ill (intubated, ventilated, on pressors etc).

If you want to do prehospital stuff, then paramedics is the best route to take, while some services recruit nurses to their air ambulances, they’re highly competitive posts to go for so having pre hospital experience is valuable (it is doable as a nurse, but harder).
How do you do a post reg critical care course and what's an ALS provider status?

Also, you said pre-hospital experience is valuable if I decide to study nursing how do I get involved in this? I'm looking at nursing as I think I want to leave the Uk and work in places such as the US and/or America once I've got experience so I think this would be the best pathway. Do you agree?
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moonkatt
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(Original post by Guardians0111)
How do you do a post reg critical care course and what's an ALS provider status?

Also, you said pre-hospital experience is valuable if I decide to study nursing how do I get involved in this? I'm looking at nursing as I think I want to leave the Uk and work in places such as the US and/or America once I've got experience so I think this would be the best pathway. Do you agree?
You get a job as a critical care nurse, then at some point through your employer you will do a critical care course at university alongside the step 2 and 3 national competencies for critical care nurses. ALS: advanced life support, is a resuscitation course. To work in a hospital as a healthcare professional, they expect you to have resuscitation training depending on the acutiry of where you work. Many areas will expect basic life support or hospital life support (BLS/HLS), there are more advanced courses such as immediate life support (ILS) and advanced life support (ALS). There are also specialist ones such as newborn life support, paediatric advanced life support etc. They are often done through your employer as part of your role, ALS can be done with outside course providers, but can be expensive.

That's not quite what I said about pre hospital experience. I said it is useful as a nurse to then apply for roles with air ambulance providers that recruit nurses, such as the EMRTS service in Wales. These posts are hugely competitive and you'd be up against other nurses and paramedics with loads of experience.

If you're wanting to travel, it's worth looking at how transferable qualifications from UK universities are. I do not know how easy it is for UK trained paramedics to move to the US, I know for nurses you have to have a fair amount of experience and have passed their NCLEX examination before you can apply for state licensure to practice, it can be quite a lengthy process. The RCN has a section on their website about working overseas and there are other nursing forums on the internet that will have advise on travelling with your nursing qualification.
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