Complex care in the air

 Helen Ballantyne 22 Nov 2018

I recently attended the RCN Flight Nursing Workshop, Fit to Fly: Complex Care in the Air: a skillfully constructed programme from the RCN Critical Care and Flight Nursing Forum.

The event was attended by a diverse group, ranging from students to experienced flight nurses and medical officers. The initial session with Dr Ryan Copeland discussed five critical global health trends; air pollution, non-communicable disease, outbreaks, mental health and digitalisation. His insight into the changing demographics of global health offered experienced nurses the opportunity to reflect on their own perceptions of changes linked to these trends, while others noted key points to direct their future learning.

Case studies provided by Dr Jude McShary from Teladoc Health offered an insight into clinical decision making. He explained that the complexity of a patient’s condition and surroundings, combined with professional agendas from a range of stakeholders can make the application of evidence based medicine challenging. He emphasised the importance of information gathering, clear communication and the sourcing of expert professional opinion and prompt evacuation to a different provider or country.

In another demonstration of a highly complex topic Dr Stephen Houston from British Airways discussed fitness to fly after eye surgery. He left delegates scribbling furiously, many acknowledging it was an often over-looked topic.

The theme of complexity was advanced further by transport nurse educator Ian Braithwaite from Embrace who described his work collecting narrative experiences of flight nursing. His research highlighted complex physiology and logistics linked to this role, but importantly, it also demonstrated the complexity of human emotion as nurses described the juxtaposition of feeling professional satisfaction and pleasure alongside the compassion and empathy they feel for parents.

The day finished with the forum organisers outlining some of their upcoming projects, including guidelines on fatigue, medicine management, careers and personal safety advice. The fact their list of planned projects for the profession echoes many of the issues highlighted through question sessions with the speakers is a credit to their insight into the specialty, so put a note in your diary for next year’s flight nursing day in October 2019 in London.

Nurse Helen Ballantyne

Helen Ballantyne

Critical Care and Flight Nursing Forum committee member

Helen's current role has consolidated her transplant nursing experience as a Clinical Nurse Specialist for Living Kidney Donation. She supports living kidney donors through the process of donation and organises kidney transplant surgeries. As part of this role, she also works a Transplant Coordinator managing the logistics of matching, retrieving and transplanting abdominal organs from deceased donors. 

Page last updated - 22/11/2018