When Alex Leister dreamt of becoming a nurse, being a critical care flight nurse was always her end goal because it fit well with her Type A, adventurous personality. Flight nurses, or transport nurses, are registered nurses who do many of the same tasks they would do in the emergency room or ICU setting, but with fewer resources and in a much smaller space.
“We provide medical care while transporting patients via Air Bear (helicopter) or by ground (mobile ambulance),” said Alex. “We work alongside paramedics and respiratory therapists to ensure our patients’ needs are met during transit from their originating hospital to Akron Children’s.”
Akron Children’s transport team members do not act as first responders at accidents or trauma scenes.
“We travel to other facilities that need our assistance with pediatric patients. We will assess and work with our providers to determine when they need to be transported back to one of our hospitals,” Alex explained.
Although the goal is for the patient to be stable before transport, if a patient’s condition deteriorates en route, the team must be ready to perform acute medical interventions, like peripheral venous access and intubations. Among the calls the team receives are those related to things like seizures, respiratory distress, sepsis, diabetic ketoacidosis, burns and dehydration.
To be eligible to become a transport nurse at Akron Children’s, nurses must have a minimum of 3 years’ experience in ICU or ER nursing and be dedicated to learning and practicing skills related to life support, resuscitation, trauma and emergency nursing.
“It’s a competitive job,” said Alex. “Something as simple as being prone to motion sickness or not being physically agile means a person may not be a good fit for this role.”
Alex joined Akron Children’s PICU team in 2014. After stints in Las Vegas, San Diego and Boston as a travel nurse, she rejoined Akron Children’s in 2018 as a transport nurse.
“My passion to work with children and play a major role in improving kids’ health brought me here,” said Alex. “The incredible sense of pride I have every day and my amazing co-workers and support system keep me here.”
Alex enjoys getting to spend her days making a real difference in people’s lives.
“I’m there for kids and their families during some of their most difficult times,” she said. “I could be instrumental in helping ensure a seriously ill or injured child has the opportunity to have a future.”
To help her deal with stress and avoid burnout, she tries to eat a balanced diet, exercise, get adequate rest and spend time with her fur babies. She also likes to take trips. Alex said having a village of supportive co-workers is critical to her work.
“I have amazing colleagues. We’re on the same page when it comes to reliable teamwork and collaboration within,” she said. “Even on my worst day, when I’m stressed and things aren’t going my way, they are there to empathize, cheer me up and help me focus while never losing track of providing quality health care.”
Alex is currently back in school at the University of Akron and using the hospital’s tuition reimbursement program to pursue her nurse practitioner degree.
“I appreciate working in a supportive professional community that provides opportunities for nurses to continue learning and reach our goals,” she said. “For any new nurses joining the organization, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Treat every activity as an opportunity to learn more. There is so much to learn from the experienced nurses.”
As for what makes Akron Children’s Hospital more than just a job for her, Alex says it’s working for an organization that has its priorities in order.
“When I was working at Boston Children’s, I realized many of the same evidence-based practice protocols they do are the same as at Children’s, putting us up there with some of the best pediatric hospitals in the nation,” she said. “I absolutely love what I do, and I feel as a health care organization Akron Children’s is focused on the right things.”
Interested in learning more about the nursing opportunities available Akron Children’s? Visit careers.akronchildrens.org.