• flight nursing expertise;
  • middle-range theory

reimer a.p. & moore s.m. (2010) Flight nursing expertise: towards a middle-range theory. Journal of Advanced Nursing66(5), 1183–1192.


Title. Flight nursing expertise: towards a middle-range theory.

Aim.  This paper presents a middle-range Theory of Flight Nursing Expertise.

Background.  Rotary-wing (helicopter) medical transport has grown rapidly in the USA since its introduction, particularly during the past 5 years. Patients once considered too sick to transport are now being transported more frequently and over longer distances. Many limitations are imposed by the air medical transport environment and these require nurses to alter their practice.

Data sources.  A literature search was conducted using Pubmed, Medline, CINAHL, secondary referencing and an Internet search from 1960 to 2008 for studies related to the focal concepts in flight nursing.

Discussion.  The middle-range Theory of Flight Nursing Expertise is composed of nine concepts (experience, training, transport environment of care, psychomotor skills, flight nursing knowledge, cue recognition, pattern recognition, decision-making and action) and their relationships. Five propositions describe the relationships between those concepts and how they apply to flight nursing expertise.

Implications for nursing.  After empirical testing, this theory may be a useful tool to assist novice flight nurses to attain the skills necessary to provide safe and competent care more efficiently, and may aid in designing curricula and programmes of research.

Conclusion.  Research is needed to determine the usefulness of this theory in both rotary and fixed-wing medical transport settings, and to examine the similarities and differences related to expertise needed for different flight nurse team compositions. Curriculum and training innovations can result from increased understanding of the concepts and relationships proposed in this theory.