Flight Nurse’s Hierarchy of Needs

I can tell how much time I have spent at the hangar by how unorganized my life becomes.

It is all I can do to ensure the laundry is done, there is food in the fridge and my truck is not trashed. In the past, one by one, these things gradually get out of control. I would finally have a day off and the awful state of my world would come into focus.

We recently have found ourselves sorely short staffed. As with any healthcare department, it is cyclical and not surprising. This, however, has been more challenging than normal.

When discussing flight medicine with someone seriously considering it as a career, I try to mention some of the more unique features of the field. This is not like working for an ambulance company or a med/surg floor with a huge pool of part time employees. There is no being pulled to the helicopter like they used to pull me to the floor when they were short staffed.

There are a set number of full-time flight nurses who cover 36 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year. There is no calling out sick because of a hang-over or wanting to screw off when the weather is nice. We work when we don’t necessarily feel well. We give up family functions, vacations and planned days off frequently to ensure there is coverage.

We have no resource pool. We are it.

It may be our family that needs us. It may be our friend or neighbor who is ill or injured. We possess a dedication to our profession, our patients and ourselves that far surpasses the usual work place. Even when we don’t know how things will work out, we cover the shifts. Some way, somehow.

Flexible to the point of liquidation but not vaporization.

I am never more impressed with my peers than when the proverbial shit seems to be hitting the fan. I am proud to be one of them.

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  1. The heart of the Sheepdog right Em? Your Country is so lucky to have you always there to give so much. I really admire your focus and drive my friend. xo

  2. I am share this site too!
    We were short a pilot most of last summer. Three doing the job of four meant working 6 twelves, then off three days, then back to it….
    Days one shift, nights the next. Of course, that schedule applied so long as none of the three pilots needed vacation or sick days. The money was great for about 30 seconds, then that got old too.
    Odd that most people think EMS pilots are paid similarly to Airline pilots.
    But that’s the crux of it isn’t it? If the industry paid more, there’d be more loyalty and less turnover.

    Hard work. Long hours. Low pay.
    The beatings will continue until the morale improves!

  3. That was a great post. I am currently in school for nursing and would like to pursue a flight nursing path… I would like to know where you got your information from though. Please email me if you can.. My email should be in my profile. Thanks again. =)