In a medical emergency, the time it takes a patient to reach a well-equipped medical facility, along with the care he receives en route, could mean the difference between life and death. For this reason, it’s extremely important for skilled and qualified medical professionals to be on hand while the patient is being transported.

The emergency medical services teams that accompany patients when they are being transferred typically include paramedics and transport nurses. These professionals work to transport patients on the surface and in the air.

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What is a Transport Nurse?
What do Transport Nurses Do?
Where do Transport Nurses Work?
How do I Become a Transport Nurse?

What is a Transport Nurse?

A transport nurse is a type of nurse that administers medical care to patients that are being transported to healthcare facilities, usually hospitals. Transport nurses that work on the ground typically work in ambulances, while flight nurses typically work aboard medical transport aircraft. They may transport patients experiencing medical emergencies, or they may simply accompany stable patients from one medical facility to another.

Transport nursing is a fast-paced and challenging career. Not only will you be responsible for administering medical care, but you will have to do so in confined spaces and limited supplies while on the move. You will also usually attend to patients suffering from medical emergencies, such as heart attack and accident victims. As a transport nurse, you will need to be able to assess the conditions and needs of your patients quickly and accurately. Oftentimes, the life of your patients in in your hands, so you must also be able to react and make decisions at lightning speed.

Effective communication skills are essential if you’re looking to become a transport nurse. This career requires you to constantly communicate with both your team and your patients, as well as other medical professionals such as physicians.

What do Transport Nurses Do?

The main goal of all transport nurses is to ensure that patients reach their destinations quickly and safely. En route to these destinations, you may be required to perform a variety of different emergency and non-emergency medical procedures.

In the case of medical emergencies, the first goal of a transport nurse and her team is to assess a patient and determine what sort of treatment they will need while being transported. Many times, transport nurses will work to ensure that patients are being stabilized during the trip. Stabilizing a patient typically involves working to make sure that any hemorrhaging is stopped and vital signs are in safe ranges. During emergency situations, transport nurses may be called upon to perform procedures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation‎, intubation, defibrillator, and tracheotomies.

Transport nurses are also usually present during routine patient transfers, such as when patients are transferred from one medical facility to another that is better equipped to deal with that patient’s condition. During these trips, transport nurses and their teams are usually only required to monitor patients and possibly administer medical care as instructed by the transferring physician. They might need to perform more routine procedures, such as administering medications and monitoring vital signs. When they arrive at their destinations, they will also be responsible for transferring medical records of their patients and updating the receiving medical facilities of their patients’ conditions.

Where do Transport Nurses Work?

Transport nurses can often find employment in medical facilities, such as hospitals and clinics. They will also usually be able to find employment with private medical transport organizations as well as in the different branches of the military.

How do I Become a Transport Nurse?

In order to work as a transport nurse, you will usually need to become a registered nurse (RN) first. This involves earning your nursing degree and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Below is the educational path for a Transport Nurse (lowest to highest level of education)

Educational TrackSchool ProgramsAverage Education LengthChoosing Online or Campus
Earn a Bachelors DegreeView Programs4 Years Online or Campus
Earn a MSN DegreeView Programs2 Additional YearsOnline or Campus
Earn a PHD or DNPView Programs2-4 Additional YearsOnline or Campus

Experience with medical emergencies is also often a prerequisite for becoming a transport nurse. You can obtain this experience by working in emergency rooms, trauma centers, and intensive care units. Some emergency medical transport units will also be willing to provide you with additional training as well.

To become a certified transport nurse, you will need to take the Certified Transport Registered Nurse Examination, which is administered by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. This organization also offers certifications for emergency nurses and flight nurses.