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3 Surprising Ways Wannabe Flight Nurses Fail

And How To Make Sure This Never Happens To You.

Have you ever met someone with advanced degrees, oodles of education, boatloads of credentials…

And the almost uncanny ability to make poor decisions?

Some folks call this “book smart” but “common-sense short.”

I don’t agree with the stereotype.

But I do see this happen with some really smart Flight Safety Network coaching students.

And every time it happens, it’s heartbreaking to watch.

The person is obviously very intelligent. They worked hard to get qualified and earn their credentials, and they want to fly more than anything.

So it’s difficult to watch as they mess up their chances of flying –over what seems like obvious mistakes.

The more this happened, the more it bothered me. Finally, I realized “obvious” is too subjective. What’s obvious to you, may or may not make sense to me, and visa-versa.

So it made sense to start identifying and tracking mistakes to teach new students ways to avoid them. Here are three common mistakes to avoid in the “Get a Flight Job” process.

Three Mistakes To Avoid

Here are three mistakes to avoid when trying to land a flight nurse job:

1.) Following the Pack

I see this mistake with resumes all the time. It’s almost like there’s one flight nurse resume template out there that every wannabe flight nurse copies. On one level, copying is perfectly fine. Employers expect resumes to follow a certain format and structure. The structure is what makes it a resume. It’s okay and even encouraged to copy the structure of past successful resumes.

What’s not okay is copying the content of a resume.

Even if you attended the same schools and have the same credentials, your resume is yours alone. It must be unique to you.

A mistake I see all the time is wannabe flight nurses making their resume look exactly like other wannabe flight nurse resumes. This does not work. It hurts your chances of getting hired. And could possibly bring your integrity into question. Don’t do it.

The takeaway:

It’s okay to copy the structure and format of sample resumes. It’s not okay to copy the content.

2.) Tunnel Vision

Tunnel vision is a second mistake wannabe flight crews make. It’s easy to understand why this happens. Nurses work hard to earn flight positions. Their only focus, only goal (for years), is a flight nurse job. Every waking moment for sometimes long periods of time is focused on a flying job.

Focus is great. And and in almost all cases, earning a flight job requires intense focus. But every so often you need to step back and see the bigger picture.

One of the sharpest flight nurses I ever coached learned this the hard way. He found out his dream flight program took possession of two brand new H-145 helicopters the same week of his flight interview. All good, except he found out during his interview. His lack of knowledge about the biggest event in the flight program’s history –was obvious and awkward. He believes this was the reason he was not hired by this flight program.

For your reference, a simple Google search of the flight program name a day or two before your interview will keep this from happening to you. And of course search is just one way to stay on top of current events and see the big picture.

The takeaway:

Remember to step back and see the big picture. Focus is great, but the 30,000 foot overview matters too.

3.) Brain Dumps

People make mistakes.

Sometimes, people make a lot of mistakes.

The statistics on this are pretty depressing. The average person can barely go 10 minutes without making a mistake of some kind. And In this regard, I consider myself an “over achiever” as I seem to make mistakes even more frequently.

The good news is your interviewer is human too. He or she is no stranger to making their own mistakes. Being human means making and (hopefully) learning from mistakes. All good.

But that’s not the kind of “brain dump” mistakes I’m warning wannabe flight crews to avoid. I’m talking about the worst kind of mistakes. The mistakes you must avoid to get a flight nurse job.

I’m talking game-changing mistakes. Mistakes that eliminate your chances of getting hired. Mistakes professionals simply cannot afford to make during the flight interview phase or any other part of the “get a flight job” process.

Everybody looks nervous, says the wrong things, and sometimes just plain messes things up. That’s being human.

Making clearly avoidable mistakes is a problem. What qualifies as avoidable? Simple. Mistakes clearly within your control. Mistakes that happen because you’re not prepared. Mistakes you simply fail to manage properly.

In no particular order, here are a few examples:

  • Tennis shoes with suit and tie (forgot to bring dress shoes)
  • No resumes in hand on interview day
  • No cover letter
  • No follow-up after the interview

How do you avoid brain dumps?

One easy way is a simple checklist. Visualize what you’ll do on flight interview day. Then make a checklist of everything you know you’ll need on interview day. Review the checklist a week before your interview and again the night before your interview.

You’ll end up catching all kinds of things you previously forgot.

The takeaway:

Be prepared. Some mistakes are not survivable.

Challenges for Nurses

A known challenge with the “get a flight job” process is most applicant’s actual experience with the job search process. It’s typical for highly experienced nurses, medics, and pilots to have near zero interview experience. Why? Because they spend all their time working as nurses, medics, and pilots.

They spend very little time searching for flight crew jobs —especially after landing their first flight crew job.

So how do you prepare?

Take the extra time required to avoid the mistakes above. I see really talented wannabes make these mistakes (and others) repeatedly. The reward for a little bit of extra time and effort invested now is the opportunity to wear a flight suit later.

It’s worth it.

You can do it.

Stand out from the crowd, avoid tunnel vision (stay on top of current events), and avoid brain dumps to bring your best self to the get a flight job process.

Have you ever made a “no-brainer” mistake in a flight interview? Share it in the comments section. You’ll be helping others avoid the same mistake, and helping all of us stay safer.


Interested in a step-by-step road map to your first flight job? Check out Flight Safety Net INSIDER Training Program here.

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Troy Shaffer
Troy Shaffer

About the Author: Troy is an Air Medical Career Expert passionate about a team approach to improving air medical safety from the ground up. Troy is a former Army medic, Army pilot, Coast Guard pilot and EMS pilot. Troy has taught hundreds of wannabe flight medics, flight nurses and EMS pilots the exact steps needed to launch air medical careers.

    6 replies to "3 Surprising Ways Wannabe Flight Nurses Fail"

    • Tom Van Skike

      Yes. I know that nurse.

      • Troy Shaffer


        I think we all know someone really book smart with less capability for hands-on stuff. But thank goodness we’re all different.

        The key is knowing your own strengths and weaknesses and then how to play to your strengths.

        Clear Skies & Tailwinds

    • Justin Toporcer

      Is that Geisinger life flight?

      • Troy Shaffer


        Do you mean the aircraft in the photo attached to this article? Or something different?

        Photos on our blog are in all cases donations and/or stock photos.

        Clear Skies and Tailwinds

    • Gwen Fox Roberts

      This applies to the nursing and paramedic job almost anywhere… be prepared. ..

      • Troy Shaffer


        Exactly! Well said.

        Clear Skies & Tailwinds

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