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René Borghese, MSN, RN, CMTE
AAMS Vice Chair, Director-At-Large

Administrative Director, Duke Life Flight
Duke University Hospital


René’s background includes:

René Borghese began her flight nurse career at Duke Life Flight in 1993. In 1999, she began working for Carolina Air Care at the University of North Carolina and served as the Chief Flight Nurse for that program for four of the nine years on the team. During a hiatus from transport, she held leadership positions in the Emergency Department at both WakeMed Health & Hospitals and Duke University Hospital. René returned to the industry in 2014 when she took a Program Manager position at Duke Life Flight and is currently the Administrative Director for the program.

René holds an Associate, Bachelors and Master’s Degree in Nursing. Her MSN was awarded with a concentration in Leadership from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. She is a Certified Medical Transport Executive (CMTE), and serves as an At-Large Director on the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) Board, a Board of Trustees Member for the MedEvac Foundation International, President for the North Carolina Air Medical Association (NCAA), and a member of the East Coast Helicopter Operations (ECHO) Flight Crew Assistance & Support Team (FAST).

Q: Tell us about your job and what you love most about it.

A: As the Administrative Director for Duke Life Flight, my daily duties mostly revolve around strategy, finance and contracts – these are the tangible things I do. It’s the intangible things that I love best: being a sounding board for a team member who is new to this industry, serving as a mentor to a new leader and enjoying a few moment of “down time” with the team are the things that keep me going.

Q: What / Who inspired you to follow an air medical / critical care transport career path and how did you break into it?

A: As long as I can remember, one of my favorite things to do was fly. As the daughter of a professional pilot, some of my fondest memories involve airplanes and airports. Whether my Dad was flying or we were watching an air show, those times were always happy and still warm my heart today.
When I was 15, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and required extensive surgery to remove the diseased tissue. Prior to his discharge from the hospital, his nurse took me aside and told me she believed I would be the best person to help my Dad with wound care. As odd as this seems when I think about it now, I didn’t give it a second thought at the time – I simply agreed to help. His nurse spent the next several hours teaching me how to maintain sterile technique and taught me the signs and symptoms of wound infection. While I do not recall her name or even the color of her hair, she was instrumental in my becoming a nurse. She saw something in me that I didn’t and gave me direction.
Fast forward 4 years – I was attending nursing school at the University of South Carolina and attended the National Student Nurses Association annual conference. I happened on a session about flight nursing purely by chance and that was the beginning of my journey. I was hooked. I could enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of aviation while caring for those in need.  After graduation, I began collecting the necessary certifications while I gained experience. With exactly 3 years nursing experience, I applied for and accepted my first job as a flight nurse.

Q: What is your proudest career-defining moment that best represents your overall professional expertise and experience?

A: I have a great deal of pride for my team and the amazing things they are capable of achieving – each of their accomplishments are career defining moments for me.

Q: What inspired you to join the AAMS Board?

A: After taking some time away from the transport industry, I felt a bit disconnected when I returned. Many things were the same but the years also saw a great deal of change. Not long after my return; while sitting at my desk trying to clear out my email inbox, I opened an AAMS email announcing a call for Board members and decided serving on the Board would be a great way to re-engage.

Q: What are your top three impact goals you plan to achieve as a board member?

A: 1 – Advocacy: These are very tenuous times for our industry. Negative press around balance billing and lack of sufficient reimbursement from Government payers make for difficult times. While I know one person alone cannot solve these issues, I am resolved to work alongside the AAMS staff and others members of the Board to advocate for our industry.
2 – Education: As time goes by, the wants and needs of each generation change. As a member of the AAMS Board, I plan to work alongside the staff to ensure we are thoughtful about the educational products we offer and make timely changes based on feedback from members.
3 – Customer Service: Work alongside the staff to ensure members voices are heard.

Q: What do you see as the future of our industry and what is the best way to adapt to a changing landscape; and given that, what are the role do you see AAMS play in that change?

A: There is an opportunity to create a more unified approach in terms of ground and air transport. As EMS protocols become more progressive, the line between advanced life support and critical care becomes blurry.
Expanding our reach to include ground transport agencies in a more purposeful way will benefit us all in the long term.

Q: What’s your favorite book / movie / movie quote and why?

A: Life moves pretty fast. If you don;t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
–Ferris Bueller