An Insight into Hyperbaric Nursing

An Insight into Hyperbaric Nursing
Photo by Elaine Bernadine Castro from Pexels.

But I’m here to read about diving, you say. Congratulations and welcome to the chat. Nurses, let us introduce you to diving and the practice of hyperbaric nursing. This is the perfect career course for nurses that have a passion for diving.

Hyperbaric nursing involves putting patients into a hyperbaric chamber that is pressurized to greater than sea level and flushing it with 100% oxygen. This treatment is supported by medical science and helps heal people with carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, and a range of other conditions. Below, we will dissect this specialist field further. 

What is Hyperbaric Nursing?

Hyperbaric treatment involves being put into a pressurized chamber flooded with almost 100% oxygen and left to breathe it up. The chambers are pressurized greater than sea level. Typically, there are two types of chambers involved. One holds a single patient who lays down inside. The second is a multi-place chamber that holds two or more people. The chamber is pressurized and the air is breathed in through masks. The reason for allowing more people in the chamber is that the patient may need support, or so that observations can be made. 

How to Become a Hyperbaric Nurse

Hyperbaric nursing is an extremely specialized field of nursing, and you will need to complete one of the accelerated bsn programs online at a school like Baylor University. Once you’re on your career plan and you’re racking up nursing hours, you will likely have a clear career trajectory in your mind. If that doesn’t include hyperbaric treatment but you’re intrigued, the best thing to do is attend a seminar held by the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS). From there, you can join the Baromedical Nurses Association (BNA) and volunteer within the ranks.

Typically, nurses who want to get into this field will need to complete an intense 40-hour course that will teach you all about the different ways pressure and oxygen impact the body. Further, you will need to know about all of the fourteen diagnoses fit for hyperbaric treatment. Once you’ve completed your training, your learning doesn’t stop there. You will get the opportunity to learn alongside well-established nurses in the field and continue your personal professional development – the BNA will support your development.

Once you’ve learned the ins and outs of barometric treatment, you need to become certified by the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine Technology (NBDHMT). Upon completion of this course, you will be subject to a requirement of 480 hours of work under the guidance of a hyperbaric nurse or another certified expert. Once you have pledged your full 480 hours, you can finally take an exam. After which, you will be trained in one of three tiers. 

The road is difficult and you will be in for a significant amount of hard work. But, what’s life without hard graft? Once you have completed your training, you can continue to learn and thrive in an area of unique nursing where every day is different.

Who Gets Hyperbaric Treatment?

The UHMS is the leading force behind this field of nursing and offers fourteen uses for hyperbaric treatment, as mentioned above. The primary use of hyperbaric care is for the treatment of decompression sickness, which is suffered by many divers. Other field workers that may need support are firefighters and miners, whose lungs are at risk of failure. Further, the general public can become sick with carbon monoxide poisoning – a condition that hyperbaric treatment cures. 

As well as yielding great medical results, hyperbaric therapy is a fantastic way of checking whether divers are ready to cope with the pressure of the sea. The chamber is pressurized using compressed air, which simulates the feeling of being underwater. If divers can cope in the hyperbaric chamber, they are ready to take on breathing in the oceanic conditions. 

A Day in the Life

You know how to become a hyperbaric nurse, but what does a day in life look like? Well, as you likely know, you will need to do case management, documents, insurance work, and guide patients through the treatment – which involves operating the chambers. 

Don’t let your diving dreams fool you into thinking you’ll spend your life in a diving suit. For the most part, your job will entail the regular run-of-the-mill duties of a nurse. You will be administering medication, carrying outpatient assessments, and managing people’s pain levels. 

However, don’t let that daily grind get you down. As well as becoming fully trained in hyperbaric nursing, you can combine this with ICU care. With this level of training, you will be responsible for treating any patient who comes through the door. Often, you will need to offer treatment while inside the hyperbaric chamber – for multi-person chambers. Depending on where you work, you will need to get stuck into night shift work and be on call for people with emergency carbon monoxide poisoning.

Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (CRAO)

CRAO is extremely rare and can be devastating if not treated immediately. Patients come in with a sudden loss of monocular vision. The cause of this condition is a blood clot in one of the vessels. The prognosis for regaining sight is rare but can be achieved through hyperbaric pressure. There have been reports of people regaining up to 95% of their vision after a series of treatments. This area of medicine still requires further research, and its applications could be much greater than currently known. For this reason, the field of hyperbaric nursing is crying out for people to take the dive and specialize in this area. 

Becoming a fully trained hyperbaric nurse will give you a great sense of achievement. You can support divers and help heal other patients. If you’re in two minds but have an interest in diving, then there is no harm in attending a meeting at the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society. From there, you can decide if this is the correct route for you. What are you waiting for? Get in touch now and embrace your new direction in nursing.