RN Professions

Ep. 5: Flight Nurse

December 24, 2019 Season 1 Episode 5
RN Professions
Ep. 5: Flight Nurse
Chapters
RN Professions
Ep. 5: Flight Nurse
Dec 24, 2019 Season 1 Episode 5
Alli Merrell, Jill Anderson

Today's episode is a very special treat because we get to hear from my amazing sister Jill! She gives us a unique glimpse into a day in the life of a flight nurse and lays out exactly how to land what she calls her “dream job! 

We did have a few issues with the audio, So just imagine Jill is speaking to us straight from her Bell 407 chopper! I’m so proud of my sister and I’m excited to share her words of wisdom with you.

Show Notes Transcript

Today's episode is a very special treat because we get to hear from my amazing sister Jill! She gives us a unique glimpse into a day in the life of a flight nurse and lays out exactly how to land what she calls her “dream job! 

We did have a few issues with the audio, So just imagine Jill is speaking to us straight from her Bell 407 chopper! I’m so proud of my sister and I’m excited to share her words of wisdom with you.

Alli:
00:00
you're listening to the R N Professions Podcast episode Number five. Today's episode is a very special treat because we get to hear from my amazing sister Jill. She gives us a unique glimpse into a day in the life of a flight nurse and lays out exactly how to land what she calls her dream job. We did have a few issues with the audio, so just imagine Jill is speaking to us straight from her bell. 407 chopper. I'm so proud of my sister and I'm excited to share her words of wisdom with you. Nurses seriously have the best job. Hi, I'm Allie. Join me each week is I interview nurses across the country to discuss their current nursing roles and responsibilities, schedules, salaries and so much more. Whether you're a nursing student fearing that dreaded in cliques and established nurse looking for a change of scenery, or are simply curious about the wonderful world of registered nursing, this podcast is for you. Cardio. Hi. Can you tell me how long you've been a nurse?
Jill:
01:07
I have been a nurse for seven years.
Alli:
01:09
So what is your current are in profession?
Jill:
01:12
I'm currently a flight nurse with skylights. I work in the Central Valley doing kind of like a medevac status to leave. We do seeing calls, and we d'oh hospital like inner facility transfers.
Alli:
01:25
Okay, So how long have you been doing
Jill:
01:27
that? I've been doing that for about a year and 1/2 and I love it. It is like my dream job.
Alli:
01:34
So, what other jobs have you done from your nursing graduation? Up until you've been a fight nurse.
Jill:
01:39
So I started out as an emergency. Lunar. That was my first job. And I'm gonna practice all of this by saying I don't necessarily. I think that everyone should go straight into the yard, but and I love you. I love love loving, but it is the anything deep learning curve, huh? Going from not being in Earth, being an emergency reverse. And then from there, I became a travel nurse in a movie out of Southern California, and I did different travel, assign it down into the California and learned a tremendous amount from that experience. You know, different. Some of them are trauma centers, some of the words, but I always say, like, no matter what status it is, it doesn't matter. It's Thomas Center. If it's not, you can always have something walked through the door that you cannot even imagine. And so, um, you know, you have to be able stabilize the person who comes in being dropped off with gunshot wounds or whatever and then get into the next appropriate facility. So, um, but it was definitely exactly what I needed to prepare me for what I do now. So
Alli:
02:53
it was that kind of your plan. Like you wanted to get the experience to lead into flight nursing or was like nursing. Kind of like where you decided to go after having the emergency room experiences.
Jill:
03:03
You know what? It was kind of funny. Quite nursing is something. It was like a dream that I wanted to do in nursing school. I never thought that I would actually get to it. I honestly thought that, um it just was gonna be too hard, and there was too much to do. And I happen to have a friend in and she encouraged me and I responded like I'm not ready. I need more. I need more experience. I need more than that. And I was about meeting Seymour trauma. So that was kind of in my head. I thought, man not be cool, but I never I thought that it was gonna get to this point. Now, where I'm at the flight, nursing was always a dream, and then But I've always loved emergency room nursing like that. I definitely feel like associate myself with that being the kind of person I think one of the most important part of the emergency department is having a cohesive group that is willing to help others where you can go. Oh, hey, I see that you're having trouble with that. I'd be okay. I'll go start your feet. You go hang my antibiotics, Um, things where you can kind of jump in and help with your shrink and then be able to delegate someone else, like, Hey, I can't do it all. I can't hang the antibiotics, but I can't search your ivy. You know, if you could do that for me,
Alli:
04:29
that's really interesting, because I was I was about to ask you, you know, having I mean, you're a people person. You love people. You. So, having moved from emergency room where you're kind of dealing with different people all day long into the role where you're now flight nurse. And you only have, like, one patient at a time, right? So then, is it is that that that that teamwork that kind of drew you into the light where you've got your your team and you are all focused on your thing? And you're like, So tell us about that. Like, Well, how does that work when you got one patient, like, tell us a little bit about maybe like a day in the life of what a flight nurse does That we were gonna have a picture of how you guys work together. And what your role within that?
Jill:
05:08
Sure. So, um, typically the way it works. Is it myself? A nurse, a medic, a paramedic and, um, the pilot. Okay, so the three of us are on one aircraft in war. The teen. The pilots were only on for 12 hours, but me and my medic we're on for 24 hours, so we kind of start off the day we go there. We get into our aircraft, check out while we're checking the aircraft out. The pilot is doing their checks with Well, so we're all kind of out there giving our checks. We're making sure the monitors are working. The equipment is working properly. We're supposed to go through everything and make sure that everything is inventory. All of those things that are we're gonna eat on a call. We have to make sure all of that is there. We do a drug inventory out the aircraft and also do a drug check out for like are narcs and some of the medications for station. And for our induction or rapid sequence Intubation we. So we check all of that. I'm pretty being here. We are. We're just starting to include blood products in our daily checks. We're one of the few companies that is now gonna include blood products Is part of our care that we can give in white fricking calls and for for even a key.
Alli:
06:34
What is that you're saying? Seeing Cole. What is that?
Jill:
06:37
Okay, So a scene call is seen Call. Okay. Yeah, like we get alerted seen whether it be, you know, a shooting and stabbing a car accident, a burn explosion. Sometimes we get automatically alerted to the things and then other times we get alerted from the ground crew saying, Hey, we need help down here. So those were the calls I see is what we call it is an inter facility transfer. And that's when I'm taking someone who's really sick from one hospital to a higher level of care to another hot. Before we get to that point, we're checking out our aircraft. The pilot is briefing us on what the plan of like for the weather for that day, and we even go in temperature spread in dew point. And we get into specifics, like, what kind of weather are we going to be running it into the day? Is there gonna be something that we're not gonna be able to go to? And then also, I check in with my partner. Okay, How are we going to do like, Well, are you feeling good? And then I do the same. I'll let Malik dime, you know, doing good. Or or, you know, we were catching a cold. You would think like oh, I got a little sniffle. No big deal. But really, anything that affects our Sinuses because we're going up in altitude really makes a big difference. partner Checks are kind of a big deal, and I have to make sure that I'm quite ready. So I need to be in my flight suit, have my boots on, be ready to go if the alarm sounds and then, um and then throughout the day when we're just kind of hanging out waiting for a call. We I do continuing education. And the one thing that I will say is this company that I work for. They have an excellent education program and you really can learn just a ridiculous amount. But we're we are continually tested and we have quarterly assignments of what we have to do. And those assignments are pretty happy. Like there. It's not like gesture howls in your left class. I mean, these are like, really in depth studies of like, you know, events, setting things that like I never dealt with in the hospital because we've got someone who
Alli:
08:58
so what kind of like specific training other than like what, you you know, your emergency room, all the qualifications, what was specific to the flight nurse that you had to go through before getting that
Jill:
09:07
job. So they want you to have so many years of emergency room and or I experience, I also had to have a certified like a nationally accreditation, so I had to have E E N, which is a certified emergency nurse,
Alli:
09:24
so that's separate from having emergency room experience. That's like a specialty within
Jill:
09:28
the big test in you. You know, you study for it. It's just like in clucks, where you go into an exam area. It's like professional investing setting, and then I will eventually get my flight nurse accreditation as well. So I also have to have a trauma course. At the time I had T and G, which is just your trauma nursing corps course. That's like what the Ers usually wants, because that's where it is geared for like in hospital kind of care. But for what I'm doing now, they really preferred the T P A T C, which is a transport professional, advanced trauma course, and that court is quite lengthy as well. I'm in the Nile, so had to have an R P, which is the neonatal resuscitation program, Um, and Hcls, which is a lot of people have heard of that a dance, cardiac life support and then the how pediatric advanced life support. And then pls, um, isn't it crazy? We still have to do the Ella? Yeah, for you, but I'm doing very hard, but do be a less I also had to do FEMA courses. Um, and that's because we're in and within an entity that response to disasters as well.
Alli:
10:56
What is the upkeep on those, like, how often do you? I mean, well, we know about the, you know, the CPR be left all that stuff. But as far as like, the advanced certification
Jill:
11:06
Yeah, house, all those are two year programs that you just kind of renewal. Same thing with some of the others and then other, Uh, some of the bigger ones are, like every four years. Yeah, it is a lot to keep up with, so it's important to have all of those readily available, and you've really got to be on top of them yourself. You can't expect someone thio keeping you in check for all of those due date.
Alli:
11:31
Yeah, and that's a lot to keep track of. So I think a binder paper free it. Tell me a bit about, you know, with nurses. We've got endless amounts of charting to do so. What does it look like for you after a call? What type of charting has to be done?
Jill:
11:47
Sometimes I'm Ellie and the you know we're in the air. I've only had contact with that patient for maybe 30 minutes. But my charting will take several hours, you know, three hours Plus, because what's the most important thing is not necessarily. I mean, it is what you do, but it's what you charge. This is across the board. Wherever you're doing, you're nursing. It is so very important to write down all the details even when you're putting on a nasal cannula. Even if you're, you know, repositioning the patient and what it's showing is that like, Hey, there was a thought crosses behind what I was doing. And I did that because I was assessing the patient brought that they need there. There was a need. I did something and then I reassessed instead. Oh, it's better or oh, no, that didn't help. I'm gonna need to do something out. And that's the ongoing nursing process that we have to show what we're doing and why we're doing it right. What
Alli:
12:48
was that they say in nursing school that if you didn't, if you didn't document, you didn't do it. So no matter how hard you're working, if there's nothing to prove it, it didn't
Jill:
12:56
happen. It, that's it. And like I've been fortunate to not have to go to court. But many of my friends have gone to court and they've had to testify. I think, like it's just it's really good to kind of stay yourself to really just add in more than the basic. And
Alli:
13:11
so with your flight nursing, how many days a week are you having to work 24 hours? What's considered full time? What part time? How does that all work? We
Jill:
13:19
work off a schedule. It's called the L A County Fires Kelly schedules. So I work 24 hours on, I get 24 off. I work another 24 hours, and then I get two days off, and then way kind of start the whole thing over again. One on went off, went on and then I get four off. So what it turns out to be is, like sometimes 2 to 3 days a week. Um, in those 24 hour days. It's about 10 ships. Um um and I know that that doesn't sound like much, and everyone's like, Wow, you have too much time box. But, you know, I mean, once, if you've been working 24 hours and you've been going the full 24 hours, that means that you're going to be recovering for the next 24 you're gonna be sleeping and napping and resting so you could be ready for the next 24 hours. What
Alli:
14:13
would you say to maybe a new nursery who's kind of considering this? What would be the biggest help kind of transition into that type of a schedule?
Jill:
14:20
So really, you just have to You have to have some kind of family support. If you have small babies, then, uh, you have to have a spouse or someone that's gonna help you do it on my own. It just wouldn't be possible.
Alli:
14:37
So how does the compensation work? You don't have to tell me like what you may or anything like that, but just if you could kind of compare it to maybe other nursing rolls and then you know how overtime work
Jill:
14:47
I do make about the scene. I mean about the scene that I did when I was a travel nurse. I feel like I made more than because there was things like housing, stipends and wonderful things like that that we're not so kind of. Um, it came out to be a little bit more. I think what it really comes down to. What is it like? What's your passion? What do you love? And if you love what you're doing, then the money. It's just a boner, you know, to me, but really like the job super fulfilling. And I think that's where, like when you have that fulfillment like it, because there's going to be times where you're like, What am I feeling? I eat it because, you know, like nobody likes to get up at three in the morning for the Inter facility, transfer up to Stanford or up to emphasise Go and it's gonna take, you know, six hours.
Alli:
15:45
So what are you doing for the sick like before you pick up your patient and then what are you doing with your patient?
Jill:
15:50
Typically, we're flying to their Hella Pac. Sometimes there's a few hospitals locally that don't have hello pads that means, But we have to, you know, fly into the airport and then be transported by ambulance. Those were always bummers because those groundlings, they tack on a bunch of times. We're always trying to make time quicker. We're trying to make it go faster. So we get dropped off at the hospital, we go to that side, you get report from the nurse. I my patient, we get them moved over onto our our litter, and we buckled them on our blood. Yeah, a lot of time. There on a ventilator, they usually got several trips.
Alli:
16:31
Do you have your own? You bring your own ivy and you bring your own vents. You bring your own, everything's you're just swapping it over in their room before you get them on your equipment to take him out.
Jill:
16:41
So that can take, you know, 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how the patient is that we load him up and then we will load him to our aircraft, get a picture and and then we'll fly to wherever they go way kind of go everywhere, but depending on you know, our flying time. I mean, frequently we fly like an hour that we're going to some of those big hospitals, long transfers they can. They can't really get you because you're going. You're in there for an hour. A lot can happen with your patient within the hour. A lot of people know like when you move people when people are very, very sick and they're like an ice cube patient and you move them just a movement from going from one bed to another and they could even just be turning the patient. Sometimes that movement can just disrupt and make a shift in everything there. Pressure could go down, you know, things can happen. And so we always have to be very careful with what we're doing. We're gonna try and make that movement as fluid as possible, where there's not a lot of worrying. But in a helicopter there is nothing I can d'oh about that movement, vibrations and things like that. So a lot can happen within that our time from transport. So our job is to make sure that we're giving them the best
Alli:
18:01
care. So you're constantly monitoring them as your transporting. So then is it kind of like a mirror image like Once you get to their defensively here where you're going, do you take him into the e r? Give report content of mirror what you did to get them on the helicopter.
Jill:
18:16
So wait, sometimes we go to the emergency department. Sometimes we go, too, if you'd, but yes, we take them to the place we need to go way give a report. And when we give report Detailed report. This is like, this is what we found in the can. You know, they've got an infarct in this part of their brain. Things are their symptoms. If there's been any improvement, or if there's things have gotten worse those who think that you have to really conveyed to the next nurse when you're giving report really important to kind of give that back story of like, Okay, how did they get this place? Did
Alli:
18:50
you have to do, like, specific flight training, or, um, I mean, was there anything specific to that to know that that that might be different?
Jill:
18:58
Denver, Colorado is where it has there education, like they're in Doc. Indoctrination to the program went for 10 days, and you go through all different aspects of some of the helicopters, some of the safety, some of its patient care. But then, once you get done with that, then you go to your base and you learn specifics about your aircraft. So, um, where I work, I work with my life. When I first started, I worked on a swing and a rotor rotor being like a regular helicopter, and I was mainly. My job was mainly doing in our facility. Transferred way. Did something called but R. R. Giggs was way could do a fixed wing so we could do longer, longer transport for their places and then with the rotor that I was in a bell. 4 30 So it's a much larger helicopter than what you are being called. So bigger helicopter because list a ton of weight, but it just blows the chickens out of everything. He's got a big rotor wash. So that's why that one was it as easy for seeing calls. So I'm on a belt for a seven, and it's smaller than you can imagine, So I like to call it The Flying Club, are in there might be like airspace, but there's no space for anything like you're tight your equipment, you got. You know, you we have a lot of equipment. We have a ventilator. We have home. Sweet God, the monitor. I've got this big red red bag that has, you know, every you know, everything you can think of your Mary Poppins bag. It's ridiculous. Yes, it's Mary Poppins bag, but all of those things are necessary. So we are just in a really tight quarters. And that means you're in tight with your patient. Even so, if you're patient throwing up good chance that you're getting thrown out by so man important, like, really some of the needs before it happens. Um, yeah, and same thing with your partner. You're really tight with your partner. So the good thing is, once you, uh, you know, kind of get a flow and you would know this partner Well, there's times where I don't even have to talk like he knows what I'm eating, and he hands it over to me now, and I do the same for him. So it's kind of like one of those, you know, well choreographed dances where, you know, everyone has their part and you do it fluidly. No, I
Alli:
21:54
am so proud of you. And I'm so glad that you do. I mean, just to hear you say that you found your dream job. It's so exciting and it's so cool. And it's crazy that all of that is possible with the same degree. I mean, I'm so happy that you're loving your job. Yes,
Jill:
22:10
there is one thing I want to say. So I went to a junior college and I got my A. Um, I definitely want to get my bachelor, but I want people to know that you can still do things even with your a. I mean, of course, I like my eventual goal. I think I want to be an education because I'm passionate about teaching people how to better serve other, um, and how to be a better nurse. So I'm passionate about that, so eventually I want to get my masters as well. But if you can't do the whole student loan thing, if you can't do the whole big program, I recommend doing junior college getting some of these classes, these core classes out of the way. Andi, if you want to transfer you for your cool, but if you only can get your A A and and what you could do for right now. I also recommend that because it's important to know that you don't have to get $50,000 in debt. Do what I d'oh for me like where I was at my life. I needed something and I needed it. Then I needed a pastor. I you know, I had two babies I had to take care of, and I needed a better career right now. So that's why
Alli:
23:23
I think you're absolutely right. I'm glad you said that. If there's one thing you could say to the nursing students that are listening, what's one bit of advice you wish that you had heard when you were in nursing school?
Jill:
23:35
I think I think what I really want to stress is, um, yes, the money is good. Yes, you have to be smart all those things. But what's most important, it could be compassionate in you understand that the people that you're coming into contact with, um, if you give them the knowledge of what's going on, it can change their life. I know it did for me when I was in the hospital with your brother I ran into nurses, and some of them were great and some of them were awful. It was very clear in my mind when I went to nursing school what kind of nurse I wanted to be, because you could be busy and you can do all these things. But it's very important to show compassion. I know specifically in the e. R. We get a bad rap for, you know, getting burnt out and not being sympathetic and all of these things, and it can happen. But I think that it's really important to keep the human element and say, Okay, if this was my family member, how would I want them to be treated? It increases that level of respect. You show more compassion, you know, keep it real to you. Because behind every patient, even if they man made bad choices and gotten them there, you know, got into that place on their own. Your job is to help, you know, make them better during that time and keep it, Yeah, to keep it real, keep it like human.
Alli:
25:13
I love that I love what you just said, like, keep it real because it's really to them. And so no matter what brought them in, that is literally your job. And to put like you said the human element to it. And they're not just they're not just a piece of flesh, there's a story behind them and that,
Jill:
25:29
Yeah, all they know is that they feel like they're dying. So if you can give them some knowledge, if you can give them some background of what's going on, educate them, then they won't be coming back for the same thing over and over and over
Alli:
25:41
that, and that's why you're gonna be an excellent educator. You can turn that off that's built into your brain, just wanting to help everyone and teach them how to how to solve the problem in a compassionate way. And that's perfect. That's exactly what we need as educators. So, Jilly, thank you so much. This was go like this was so much fun, and I I just love hearing all about everything that you've accomplished and how much you're enjoying it. And I mean, I'm sure you've changed lives, and you don't even know it just because of your sweet personality and how much you've put into what you give to them. And I think that that I think that's really special.
Jill:
26:17
Well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I'm so glad to be on your podcast. I'm honored that you thought of me, and I'm excited to come back and we'll talk some really gory stories.
Alli:
26:28
That would be also that would be so much. But thanks again to my sister Jill, for sharing with us. Her role as a flight nurse extraordinaire. If you haven't yet, please subscribe to the RN professions podcast. Follow me at our end Professions on instagram and please join in on the conversation. We've got a lot to talk about. And if you would like to be on the podcast to share your specialty and nursing journey, we love to hear it. Please connect with me at alley at our in professions dot com. That's a l l I at r and p r o M e S s i o n s dot com Thanks for tuning in
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