Career Definition of a Critical Care Transport Nurse
While it's common to think of paramedics or EMTs as the professionals who provide medical care to people who are being taken to hospitals in an ambulance, this is also a role fulfilled by critical care transport nurses. They may work in ambulances or aircraft. Their job is to assess people who require emergency medical care and to stabilize them while in transit. They must assess the patient's condition, provide treatment and monitor the patient's condition.
Critical care transport nurses may be required to perform a number of life-saving medical procedures, including intubations. If a person's heart stops they may have to perform CPR and use a defibrillator. When patients are wounded they may need to find a way to stop or slow the bleeding and bandage wounds. They may also give medication to patients. In addition to transporting patients in emergency situations, the critical care transport nurse may also be required to accompany patients who are being transferred from one facility to another. When patients are delivered, the critical care transport nurse must ensure that the facility receives their medical records.
|Educational Requirements||Associate's degree required; bachelor's preferred by some employers|
|Job Skills||Customer service skills, communication skills, teamwork skills, ability to stay focused, ability to work well under pressure, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, organizational skills|
|Median Hourly Salary (2020)*||$32.43 (flight nurses with critical care skills)|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)**||12% (all registered nurses)|
Sources: *PayScale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
It is necessary to be a registered nurse to pursue a career as a critical care transport nurse, via either an associate's degree program or a bachelor's. Some employers prefer critical care candidates to hold a bachelor's degree.
After graduating from an RN program, aspiring nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Exam to earn their license.
Certification requirements are common for employment. Certifications critical care transport nurses are likely to need include basic life support, advanced cardiac life support and pediatric advanced life. Critical care nurses may also need advanced trauma training, such as through the transport professional advanced trauma course (TPATC).
Other certifications that may be required upon employment or shortly thereafter include certified emergency nurse (CEN), critical care registered nurse (CCRN), certified transport registered nurse (CTRN) and/or certified flight registered nurse (CFRN). Relevant work experience is recommended, and sometimes required, for these exams.
Critical care transport nurses must have strong communication skills and interpersonal skills because they work in confined spaces, must relay information to doctors and other medical professionals and must be able to get patients to talk to them to ensure they are properly treated. They also benefit from having good organizational skills because they work in tight spaces and because they cannot acquire supplies while in transit, so they need to ensure they have the appropriate supplies on hand. Since they work with patients in a moving vehicle, they must be able to remain focused on the patient and ignore distractions. They also need good problem-solving skills to effectively assess patients and provide appropriate treatment.
Career Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes critical care transport nurses with its listing for registered nurses. While the BLS reports expectations that the average rate of job growth for all occupations from 2018 to 2028 will be 5%, they expect registered nurses to see a higher job growth rate of 12% during that same period. PayScale.com reported that flight nurses with critical care skills earned a median hourly salary of $32.43, or $69,775 per year, as of May 2020.
For those considering a future as a critical care transport nurse, there are other nursing specialties that may also interest them, such as being a surgical or ER nurse. Learn more about this other areas of nursing and the role of paramedics by following the links listed here.