A Flight Chaplain is a trusted member of the team who crews can turn to in confidence and trust. Crews deal with enormous stress, and an embedded Flight Chaplain, who works and flies with crews on a regular basis, is there when needed – when a crew member is troubled by aspects of a flight, has lost a patient, or is struggling with work/life balance. Flight Chaplains are trained to help crews learn how to deal with the difficult and often buried, emotional side of trauma service.
Crews can and do suffer burn-out, cynicism, and posttraumatic stress. Most disturbing, the quality of medical care and/or the safety of the crew can be compromised if a crew member is struggling, is angry, or has lost focus. Not addressing the day to day needs of crews can have devastating consequences for program managers. A Flight Chaplain on the team is one important way a transport program can provide for the well-being of crews. If a crash should occur, crews already supported by a Flight Chaplain are much better prepared to cope with the consequences.
During transport, the Flight Chaplain provides spiritual support to patients and their families, who are often terrified and overwhelmed. The Flight Chaplain plays a crucial role in caring for patients and families during this very stressful time.
Education & Training – Professional Flight Chaplains
Like competent professionals in the medical field, education, training, and skills are required for Flight Chaplains. All professional Flight Chaplains are required to have the following education and training: B.A., Master’s degree (M. Div. or M.A. in theology with focus in pastoral care and counseling), 4 units (1,872 hours) of hospital-based Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training, preferably in a Trauma I or II Center, and employment as a Flight Chaplain with a Flight Program a minimum of 12 hours per week.