Critical Care Nursing Expertise during Air Transport

Darla K. Topley, Joseph Schmelz, Joanne Henkenius-Kirschbaum, Kathy J. Horvath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to describe the practical knowledge possessed by registered nurses that are part of the Air Force's Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCATT) and distinguish salient features of CCATT knowledge to critical care nursing in the hospital. This research study used descriptive, exploratory methods. Twelve CCATT nurses, identified as experts, were included in the study. Data were collected using written narratives by each participant; group interviews in which nurses discussed the written narratives; and individual interviews. Data were analyzed using interpretive phenomenology. Four major themes developed from the data. The knowledge embedded in CCATT nursing included: preflight preparation, in-flight assessment and environment, characteristics of CCATT nurse, and hospital vs. in-flight nursing practice. CCATT nurses improvise and provide nursing care based on past experiences using a broad critical care knowledge base. This has led to the development of a unique body of knowledge for nursing care. The areas of assessment and preparation described by the CCATT nurses can serve as a template for the Air Force's CCATT training program and CCATT orientation checklists. This study also identified several topics for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)822-826
Number of pages5
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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