By Hannah Caver, Staff Writer
LEEDS — Leeds High School invited flight trauma nurses to speak with students about nursing the nursing career field on Monday, November 15, from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Shannon Logan, Leeds High School health sciences instructor, invited flight nurse medic Jennifer Jefcoat to speak to her classes about her experiences as a flight nurse. Unfortunately, the Lifesaver Helicopter could not join Jefcoat due to an emergency.
The health sciences class is integrated alongside the Career Technical Student Organization (CTSO). In this class, students learn about health careers and the different facilities that are used. They also learn about the history of health care, and then they go on to anatomy and physiology. Leeds High School also offers a patient care technician class, where students learn how to take care of patients, such as details, communications, and soft skills, and then they go on to internship facilities.
Jefcoat said that going to PR events is important because not many people know that flight nurse medics exist.
“I always try to tell kids, what’s out there, what’s available, and the things you can do,” Jefcoat said. “If you’re going in to nursing and you don’t like it, take this avenue. If you don’t like this avenue, take that one. You don’t like the OR, work peds, you don’t like peds work at a clinic, you don’t like clinic, do infusion. There’s always somewhere to go in health care. It’s not mainstream driven, like other careers.”
Lily McClendon, Leeds High School senior, explained that having people come in and talk to them about the different career paths they could take in the health care industry is helpful because it gives them a better understanding of what they might want to do after graduating.
“We really get opportunities to learn stuff that like other students don’t get to learn,” Leeds High School senior Grace Roberts said. “So it’s already setting us up to be more successful once we graduated, and I really like that.”
Jefcoat was a nurse for over three years when she did a direct commission into the military as a nurse in July 2001, but her love for helping others was instilled in her at a young age. Jefcoat explained that when she was rewarded as a child with the show M.A.S.H., she realized she wanted to be a flight nurse while watching that show.
Before attending nursing school, Jefcoat attended flight school at Wallace State to make sure she was comfortable in a helicopter. The helicopter used for emergencies is a Bell 407, which is a four-blade, single-engine, civil utility helicopter.
“I didn’t go to like learn to fly the helicopter,” Jefcoat said. “I went to learn to be comfortable in the helicopter, so I went to ground school and flight school at Wallace because I knew that this was all I wanted to do.”
Jefcoat explained that she and most of the people she works with thrive in high acuity chaos because a flight nurse medic never stops something is always happening, and you have to think on your toes to make the best judgment call. In addition, there’s a set of skills, such as intubation, incisions, babies, special medication consideration, and blood products, that flight nurse medics need to be able to do during an emergent situation.
“We respond to shootouts, we respond to medical emergencies, we respond to car accidents, we respond to boating accidents, anything where you need rapid transportation with a higher level of care, they’re going to dispatch a helicopter,” Jefcoat said.
Flight nurse medics can work anywhere between 24, 36, and 48 hours in a row.
“I love having others come in to tell the students the different sides of the stories,” Logan said. “I might have a different type of nurse come in, or I might have a pharmacist. There are different types of health careers, because students, sometimes they just think that maybe there’s a dentist or a doctor or nurse and they don’t see the details of what kind of nurse you want to be or what kind of doctor do you want to be.”