As a sponsor of the annual Critical Care Transport Nurses Day on February 18,  the Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association aims to raise awareness of this nursing career path while simultaneously celebrating the nurses who work in dynamic critical care transport settings. Headshot of Casey Green critical care transport nurse

The critical care transport nursing specialty offers variations of work settings so nurses can work in settings including air transport, ground transport, and military transport. Critical care ground transport nurse Casey Green, BSN, RN, CCRN-CMC, CTRN, CFRN, CEN, TCRN, CPEN, CNRN, NRP says the skills and approach to nursing care in this specialty appeals to her.

“I really enjoy the autonomy of nursing care in the emergency department and the intensive care units, and transport nursing is a combination of using both skill sets to assess, monitor, and treat patients safely,” she says.

Because critical care transport nurses work in ambulances, helicopters, or on ships, they are often the nurses who reach remote areas, trauma situations on roadways, and work in areas that are unfamiliar. They could transport one patient to a hospital or be part of team that needs to transport many people out of an area. The challenge appeals to Green. “I like the variety of patients and just how complex their care is,” she says.

As with any nursing situation, things can change quickly and nurses have to be ready. But transport nursing poses additional challenges including vehicles, weather, and terrain. Green says that transport nurses need to be aware of any potential situation. “To prepare myself for this line of work, I took a lot of courses in patient care for all patient populations, especially those who are critically ill,” she says. “Each shift I work I refresh myself on equipment, medication, or a patient population that we may have not transported recently just to keep the information fresh in case we have a request during my shift.”

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Nurses who are interested in this specialty should enjoy the physical challenges, fine tune their critical thinking, and have an ability to read and react to a situation immediately. “Two of my biggest takeaways are to develop strong assessment skills because they help guide your intuition if something feels or seems off during transport,” says Green.

As with other nursing career paths, transport nurses don’t operate in a vacuum even though their work is done outside of a typical hospital or health care facility setting. “Teamwork needs to be at the forefront of your mind when you step on a transport vehicle,” Green says. “Often, your team is all you have between hospitals, and all levels of patient care have a say in patient care during transport.”

Critical care transport nursing is an exciting career path, and Green says if a nurse is interested in pursuing it, preparation is key. “Get experience in the ICU and the ED and apply,” she says. “Don’t worry that you may not have what an employer is looking for; get your experience and develop strong critical thinking and assessment skills.”

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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