A Day in the Life of a Mayo Flight Nurse

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Whether it be flying to the scene of a car accident or transporting a critically ill patient to a specialty hospital by helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft, the flight nursing specialty requires an experienced and skilled professional to make split-second decisions during intense situations.

A day in the life of a flight nurse is never the same. Tim Alden, R.N.,  flight nurse for Mayo Clinic Medical Transport (MCMT) in Rochester, Minn., would agree that the flight nursing specialty provides a level of excitement that is difficult to match within the nursing profession.

As a flight nurse with MCMT, Tim’s “offices” are in the back of a Eurocopter 145 or in the cabin of a Beechjet 400. Each aircraft is stocked with equipment and medication comparable to what would be found in an emergency department or intensive care unit. Tim and his colleagues must be prepared for any type of emergency and must be able to perform in any environment. Tim maintains advanced skills by completing continuous training and education.

I had the opportunity to interview Tim to discuss what a typical day in the life of a flight nurse was like and to ask questions about what it takes to become a flight nurse.

Mayo Clinic Medical Transport celebrates its 25th year of service this year. MCMT has grown to include three bases in Rochester and Mankato, Minn. and Eau Claire, Wisc.  The MCMT medical crew is composed of medical directors, flight nurses, flight paramedics, as well as a Nursing Education Specialist and a Clinical Nurse Specialist.  Specially trained neonatal and pediatric nurses and respiratory therapists are also an essential part of the Mayo Clinic Medical Transport team.  Each year, MCMT collectively transports over 2,000 patients. MCMT flight nurses also work on Mayo MedAir Ambulance, Mayo’s fixed-wing aircraft, to transport patients across the country. MCMT comprises state-of-the-art aircraft designed to provide optimal care and enhance the safety for all on board. It goes without stating, however, MCMT would not be successful without the pilots, mechanics and Emergency Communications Center, as well as all of the team members that contribute to meeting the needs of our patients.

Flight nursing is only one of many specialties the nursing profession has to offer. For those interested in the nursing profession, click on the following link to learn more about over 60 nursing specialties at Mayo Medical Center. Tim would welcome any comments you may have on the flight nursing specialty or any other comments you may have.

This post was submitted by Mark LaMaster, nursing placement coordinator, Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

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4 Responses to “A Day in the Life of a Mayo Flight Nurse”

  1. Marcia - Senior Citizen Says:

    I’m interested in this whole thing at moment. Need to read up on it big time!

  2. disabilities Says:

    Hey! I admire your writing and the way you explain things. Some of the comments on here too are insightful. I appreciate you. keep it up!

  3. Deb Larson Says:

    Three years ago our son was involved in a terrible accident. Thanks to the courage and ability of these wonderful people Chris is here with us today. We are especially proud of Tim, the nurse in this story, he happens to be our nephew. But, they all deserve our respect and thanks for the service they provide each day.

  4. Linda Rockey Says:

    You are all to be commended on risking your own life every day to save another. As I take my daily walk past Saint Marys I quite often see the helicopter arriving and am moved to tears that we provide this service and that people take on these challenging jobs. Kudos to you all for saving lives every day!

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