Do you wish to boldly go where no nurse has gone before? You may have the opportunity someday thanks in large part to the new “space race” between the likes of private entities like Virgin Galactic and SpaceX. But until we establish a hospital on the moon or need health professionals to accompany the first settlers to Mars, space nursing will be an earth-bound profession. Still, aerospace nurses play an important role in space exploration.
The SGS at Cape Canaveral, for example, has a comprehensive health service staff that helps provide proactive and corrective health treatment for employees and visitors, including astronauts. Along side the flight surgeon, NASA nurses help with examinations and training prior to space travel to ensure the astronauts are healthy enough to withstand the rigors of spaceflight.
If your heart is in nursing and your eyes are on the stars, becoming an aerospace nurse (also known as a flight nurse) might be the best first step toward someday working in the space field. Aerospace nursing is concerned with the transport and evacuation of critically-ill and acutely injured patients in helicopters and aircrafts.
According to the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA), certifications in basic, cardiac, and pediatric advanced life support are fundamental for aerospace nurses. Other requirements may include completion of the Neonatal Resuscitation Program, the Pre-Hospital Advanced Life Support Examination, and the Certified Flight Registered Nurse Examination.
Carole Porcher, RN, spoke with Medscape about the life of a NASA nurse. She offers the following advice for those who may be interested in a nursing position with NASA or a similar space agency: “Most of the nursing positions at NASA sites are in the occupational medicine area, so experience in occupational medicine, and certification in occupational health nursing, is advantageous for a nursing position at NASA.” She also notes that experience in acute care nursing is essential for space nurses.
Whether you are currently a registered nurse (RN) interested in pursuing an advanced nursing degree or still need to obtain your bachelor’s, scholarships are available for those interested in becoming aerospace nurses. Visit the AsMA’s Awards & Scholarships page to learn more about these and other aerospace nursing scholarships, as well to apply (account registration required).
AsMA Fellows Scholarship
One of the stated purposes of the AsMA Foundation is to provide “scholarships for the purpose of underwriting, in whole or part, the cost of registration fees, transportation, or any other valid fees or expenses” incurred by students pursuing an education in the field of aerospace medicine.
- Award: $2,000
- Eligibility: AsMA member who is a student in an aerospace medicine residency program, graduate program in aerospace medicine, medical certificate or aerospace diploma course, or in a full-time education/training program in the allied fields of nursing, physiology, human factors, psychology, ergonomics, engineering, etc.
ANAHPS Louise Marshall Nursing Scholarship
The Aerospace Nursing and Allied Health Professionals Society’s Louise Marshall Nursing Scholarship is endowed in honor of the late Louise Marshall, a retired Air Force Flight Nurse and member of the Aerospace Medical Association.
- Award: $750
- Eligibility: Awarded annually to members of the ANAHPS or relatives of ANAHPS members who are pursuing a career or advanced education in the field of nursing.
Space Medicine Association Wyle Scholarship
Award recipients also receive a book on human space flight and free registration for the Scientific Meeting of the Aerospace Medical Association.
- Award: $500
- Eligibility: Undergraduate/graduate students who have demonstrated academic achievements and shown an interest in Space Biology and Space Medical Operations (e.g., biomedical engineering, space flight physiology, nursing, life sciences, etc.) to further pursue a career in Space Medicine.
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