How Many Hours Do Travel And Flight Nurses Work?

What Do Flight And Travel Nurses Do?

Very few people know what these types of nurses’ responsibilities consist of. Flight and Travel nurse occupations have very similar responsibilities than traditional registered staff nurses. However, there are a couple things that set them apart.

The occupation is quite demanding for a regular staff nurse. They have a lot of responsibilities and tasks to do on every shift. Not to mention, taking care of one or several patients.

Registered staff nurses work on different floors of a healthcare facility. Their primary responsibility is to provide care and administer medical treatment for the patient at all times. They work with other healthcare professionals to assist the patient as needed. Plus, they can assess the patient and document their medical opinion.

Travel nurses’ responsibilities may differ depending on who they work for. However, a lot of the time they fall in line of those of a registered staff nurse. The main difference between the two is that the travel nurse is not a permanent employee of that healthcare facility.

Travel nurses have traveled from their homes (wherever “home” might be) to fulfill a nurse shortage at that particular organization. That healthcare facility put in a request to be assisted by a travel nurse, anticipating that their patient load would be too much for their staff. Therefore they ask a travel nurse to come help for a temporary period of time.

There are a couple reasons why this makes sense to do. However, the two main reasons are mainly these. The first being these nurses already have experience and are qualified. You know they will be off and running on their own pretty quickly because they have done it before.

The second is they are temporary cost. This is much better than hiring someone new and committed a wage or salary to that employee. There are many things that can go wrong there. That employee may not be as good as anticipated or they may clash with permanent staff members.

Therefore, having them for a temporary amount of time mitigates that risk.  Travel nurses can be seen as short term costs with the potential of long term gain. Travel nurses also get paid more than your average registered staff nurse. This makes the occupation much more desirable for nurses.

Flight nursing is also quite different regular staff nursing. The biggest difference is that these nurses work on aircraft while treating patients. They can either work for public hospitals or private healthcare facilities.

They are usually the first to arrive to emergency scenes along the paramedics when air assistance. It is the flight nurse’s job to provide the patient with the best care on the aircraft while transporting them safely.

What Are The Hours Of Travel And Flight Nurses?

​A travel nurses’ schedule will solely depend on where he or she is working and the employer’s demand for labor hours. If the travel nurse works in the hospital and they fulfulfilling a regular nurse’s workload then their hours can be very similar to that of a regular staff nurse.

That can be in the form of 3 (12 hour) shifts per week or 4 (10 hour) shifts. There is a greater chance that it will be the former.  Sometimes you have healthcare facilities that offer 5 (8 hour) shifts per week.  It is  very typical for travel nurses to get less favorable shift scheduling. They should also be prepared to work weekend and night shifts.

A flight nurses’ schedule is a lot different than that of a travel or registered staff nurse. Flight nurses work 24-hour long shifts and usually work 6 to 8 shifts a month.

This profession can be very labor demanding when on the clock but they do not have to work nearly as many shifts as staff nurses. Obviously, this is because a flight nurse’s shifts are longer.

Their shifts are long because they deal with a lot of emergencies, critical care situations, and long aircraft rides. Therefore, it is easier to have the same person working than switching someone out every 8 to 12 hours.

Do These Nurses Get A Lot Of Overtime?

If the healthcare facility has a high patient load then the nurse’s work hours could be much more demanding. This happens very often for travel nurses. Many healthcare facilities that ask for travel nurses are under staffed. Hence, travel nurses can see a lot of overtime when they are on specific assignments. It depends on the employer though.

Flight nurses could see overtime as well. Labor shortage is usually the cause of overtime here as well. However, overtime for a flight nurse is seeking just one or two extra shifts a month. Because their shift length (24 hours) and the recovery time needed from them, it is not feasible or safe for these nurses to work for then 10  shifts a month.

See also Uap nursing


There you have it. That is a very detailed look at what a work schedule looks like for flight and travel nurses. For travel nurses, their hours will heavily depend on where you work and how much your employer needs your labor.

Same thing with flight nurses. Flight nurses can work 6 to 8 shifts a month.  Plus, their access to overtime hours is a lot more variable.

I hope this post sheds some light on the work schedule and hours of travel and flight nurses.

Horizon Travel