Back in the days, when people mention the term “nurse”, all they think about is a person wearing an all-white ensemble plus the cap, administering medications in wards and catering patient needs. Nowadays, nursing has evolved in so many ways and the profession has given birth to different specializations you never thought were possible. Now, nurses can work in the profession that they’ve always dreamed of being part of and in the field they love the most.
One of the many specializations in the nursing profession that have emerged throughout the years is hyperbaric nursing. To some, it may seem unheard of, but hyperbaric nursing actually had its origins way back in the 1950’s when nurses were called upon to support multiplace chambers as the practice of hyperbaric medicine evolved from the treatment of divers (undersea medicine) to those illnesses and diseases suffered by more traditional patient populations.
Getting to know more about hyperbaric nursing
Hyperbaric nursing or otherwise known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) is a nursing specialty involved in the care of patients receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy. In HBO, nurses work with the health team of professionals including certified hyperbaric technicians, respiratory therapists, physical therapists or emergency medical technicians.
Here, nurses perform daily assessments, operate chambers and monitor patients during treatments. They also inform patients about fire safety restrictions and key interventions, such as ear-clearing techniques to reduce trauma risks and air-breathing breaks to lower the incidence of oxygen toxicity seizures.
Back then in the earlier times, nurses were experienced in critical care, emergency room, and medical-surgical areas, which reflected the nature of the early referable indications and were cross-trained in hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Later on, nurses became involved and published in clinical research.
The role of the hyperbaric nurse is multifunctional and may include being the clinician, educator, research and manager. The goal in this field is mainly to provide safe, cost-effective, quality patient care, according to established standards.
How to become one
Becoming certified in a nursing specialty signifies a degree of competence and education in the field. At present, practice standards are becoming tied to certification.
Completing an approved course which will equip you with theoretical knowledge and practical skills to participate in and manage patients receiving hyperbaric therapy allows a nurse to take an exam after one year of experience and become a Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse (CHRN).
Three years of HBO practice, continuing education, national presentations and leadership experience are necessary for an Advanced Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse (ACHRN). Master’s prepared hyperbaric nurses with five years’ experience can apply for a Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse Clinician (CHRNC).
Certified hyperbaric nurses are then required to maintain continuing education credits to be eligible for re-certification.