Taking Flight: CUA Nursing

Hi, I’m Peggy and I’m a senior nursing major at CUA! Being a student at CUA, I often hear, “You have so many great opportunities available to you.” In all honesty, we do! We have incredible internship opportunities, and as a nursing major, I do clinical work at world-renowned hospitals just down the street. One of the best parts about being a student in DC is that you never know when a great opportunity will show up!

As a sophomore, I held an off-campus job at a nearby restaurant called &Pizza. The concept at &Pizza is very similar to Chipotle, but instead it’s an assembly line of choose-your-own-ingredients pizza; so amazing! I typically worked at the checkout, or post section as we call it, and while the pizza is in the oven I usually had around 3 minutes to chat with guests at the post before the pizza came out. On one particular day, a group of people in flight suits walked into &Pizza. I recognized from their suits that they were part of the flight team from Medstar Washington Hospital Center.

The flight crew consisted of a pilot, a paramedic, and an RN. I explained to them that I was a nursing student at CUA; we talked a bit longer, and the paramedic told me that he was in charge of scheduling flight ride-alongs. He gave me his business card, and encouraged me to e-mail him if I wanted to set up a time to head out with them. A few weeks later, I was headed to an airfield to experience a day in the life of a flight nurse. I had no idea what to expect.

       IMG_3415 My ride-along began with a tour of home base, the helicopter, safety guidelines, and an explanation of what to expect during a typical shift. One of the best parts was definitely getting to wear a flight suit all day. We received two calls during the ride-along that were both patient transports. When the first call came in regarding a stroke patient, we headed out to the helicopter grabbing backpacks, and helmets along the way. We got in, completed the pre-flight check, and the pilot took off. During the flight, we were all helping the pilot watch out for anything along the way, even something as small as a bird. Our helmets all had headsets in them that allowed us to communicate since the helicopter was pretty loud. We landed at the first hospital, then rushed into the emergency room to find our patient for transport. After confirming the patient’s ID, and gathering their belongings, we went out to the helicopter. As we flew to the next hospital, the nurse on board, and I were monitoring the patient while being another set of eyes for the pilot. We landed at the next hospital, and immediately rolled the patient into the critical care unit. The staff helped us get the patient settled, and began treatment right away. It was incredible to see how efficient and impactful the flight crew was to saving someone’s life.

Between the adrenaline rush, the flight, the patient care, and the teamwork, I loved it all! I even got to use night vision goggles, and yes, they were as epic as the movies make them seem! By the end of a 12-hour shift with them, I had a new perspective on where my degree could take me. I had a job at a local restaurant, mentioned that I was studying in the CUA School of Nursing, and I stumbled into the experience of a lifetime. Now, as I near the end of my senior year, and begin to look for jobs, I already have my dream career in mind; flight nursing!


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