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Air Force GMO/Flight Surgeon Billets

Discussion in 'Military Medicine' started by trattoria, Jan 27, 2008.

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  1. krust3

    krust3 medical vagabond

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    so i signed into the AF reserves FAP program last summer after matching a civilian radiology residency. basically anticipating to put in my 20 since because if i stay in all 5 years residency, 1 year fellowship, then 4 years loan repayment i'll owe 16 years. i'm planning on an interventional rads fellowship so i can qualify for flight surg rather than GMO or being stuck at one of 4 bases where i would be a radiologist.

    i'm posting because i'm gonna be in a long time and from what i've read GMO blows. i guess as long as i'm not blind or a complete slug i can make flight surg right?

    sound like a reasonable plan?

    my recruiter made me sound kinda worthless unless i did IR because he said i might not even qualify for GMO. then again maybe that works in my best interest? this is confusing.
  2. Flight surgeon

    Flight surgeon

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    To those who are/were Air Force surgeons:

    I wish to become a flight surgeon in the Air Force so I can fulfill my boyhood dreams of flying fighter jets... I am willing to maintain my radiologist skill with locums while I fly once a week as a flight surgeon. One of my colleagues was stationed at Holloman AFB as a flight surgeon, and he HAD to fly once a week in fighter jets...He had a BLAST for four years before he entered residency. My local recruiter preliminary calculation shows that I can enter as O-5 or O-6.

    Question:
    After having done website research to become an AF FS, new required SERE training website video showed students running and road marching with a rucksack on their backs.
    What if I have a profile to briskly walk 1 mile instead of running 1.5 miles for the new AF physical fitness test?
    I have no other physical issues.

    If I cannot finish SERE within one year of becoming a Basic Mission Capable (BMC) Flight Surgeon (48x1) and fail to become Mission Ready FS(48x3), what will become of my 48x1 status?

    Thanks for great info from SmarterNow and Galo.
    Of course, I will not join if I cannot be assigned to fighter squadrons, i.e., Nellis AFB.
  3. AF M4

    AF M4 Junior Member

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    This is a bit odd - you're a radiologist and yet you want to become a flight surgeon? How long has it been since you've done primary care? You kinda need that. Also your colleague's AF was awhile ago - in the land of single seat planes like A-10s and F-22s, there's no room for flight surgeon ride-alongs unless you're strapped to a wing.

    It's good that you've done some research and know some of the lingo. Have you ever actually flown in a fighter before? I had that on my bucket list too, and it was a lot of fun for the first half hour or so until I started puking for the final hour of the flight. After that I was good. Just saying that before you commit all the time, effort and liability that comes from doing this kind of thing, why not just drop a few grand on one of those companies in Florida who'll take you up and let you do a couple of barrel rolls for fun? See if you like it first.

    Other points:
    - I've met a lot of flight surgeons and - hand of God - I've never met one O-4 or above who ran his PT test. You'll be fine walking.
    - "Baby SERE" no longer exists. Get ready for pain. Really. It's not fun.
    - Enh, they'll let you drag your 48G1 AFSC around for a little while, but there will be pressure on you to do it because it's part and parcel of having wings. If you can't do it they may take you out back and shoot you. Or maybe just lock you in a GMO clinic somewhere and throw away the key. Or put you in interminable meetings forever. Kinda depends on the disposition of your commanders.
  4. ravager135

    ravager135

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    Agree with all of the content mentioned by SmarterNow and Galo. The grass isn't always greener... I would add that even if one does pursue a tour as a Navy flight surgeon you will likely deploy in the capacities mentioned above but you can also be IA'd with the Army or tasked by the Navy if you are in a BSO-18 billet. There are very few truely completely non deployable flight surgeon billets. They are often with training commands and experimental squadrons and are never guaranteed as you bargain with classmates for billets prior to FS graduation. If there's any chance you don't want to deploy, the Navy is not for you. It doesn't sound the AF is either...
  5. Flight surgeon

    Flight surgeon

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    Thanks for the info. I assume you are not assigned to a fighter squadron. My colleaque enjoyed his four years flying fighter jets in the back seat...
    Yea. it is odd I guess...something I can do before I get too old. My Dad was a fighter pilot, and I always wanted to be one. I am prior army infantry officer, also deployed to Iraq when the war began...never flew in a fighter jet. I can sign up for four years, hopefully flying in f16s and f15s before they retire.
    Everyone is corrected that it is not greener on the other side.
    With my military and civilian experience, I have seen politics and "pure evil" everywhere in various forms. Human nature does not change whether in uniform or not. Money and power seem to be the cause in my opinion.
    All the BEST to everyone.
    Shalom.
  6. AF M4

    AF M4 Junior Member

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    Sure, I wasn't trying to poke holes in your motivation or anything like that, just wanted to suggest taking the fighter flying experience for a test drive before making the multi-year commitment.

    No, I wasn't at a fighter base. There are good parts and bad parts about everything.

    Tell you what. Google "Top Knife Luke AFB". Top Knife is a couple week program for AF flight surgeons who are assigned to fighter squadrons, whether you're active duty, reserve or ANG. If what you're looking for exists, you'll find it there. Good luck.
  7. Flight surgeon

    Flight surgeon

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    Thank you for info on "Top Knife."
    From further internet research, I've read about "Top Knife" school at Klamath Falls, OR for Air National Guard folks who first attend Aerospace Medicine Primary course at Brooks AFB, TX. Reading their brief course description, they don't have to attend the full SERE course at Fairchild AFB unlike the active duty counterparts.
    "Top Knife II" is at Luke AFB, which is competitive to attend. Are these Top knife courses voluntary?
    I am also looking into options I have with AF reserve and ANG.
    Thank you for the info again.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2011
  8. AF M4

    AF M4 Junior Member

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    No problem. But check for an update on that SERE course information. They used to have "baby SERE" at Brooks AFB, but from what I understand that entire course was deleted just recently and is no longer available for anyone anywhere. This leaves Fairchild as the only option for someone who needs a SERE course, and they do not take it easy on you.
  9. Flight surgeon

    Flight surgeon

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    My recruiter told me Firchild course would "pamper" old doctors like me vs. tail gunners in their 20's. Having tasted the US Army Ranger School as prior infantry officer, I am no stranger to "outdoor" training, but my knees are much weaker now.
  10. AF M4

    AF M4 Junior Member

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    Heh. Well if your recruiter said it, it must be true.
  11. Osteo4life

    Osteo4life

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    I was curious if someone could explain what "SERE" is (from my impression it is some sort of training program). I apologize if I sound ignorant asking this question, but I am not familiar with military terminology that much.

    Also, I was wondering if someone could be flight surgeon by doing navy reserve and if so when will someone be able to do this in their timeline of their medical career? Will it occur after residency or after completing an internship or medical school? I really want to be a flight surgeon, but can I do it through navy reserve or do I have to do it through HPSP as a GMO tour. Will flight surgeons in the navy reserve be turned into active duty when they want to do their FS tour or will they only be in charge of reserve squadrons.

    Thank you
  12. BOHICA-FIGMO

    BOHICA-FIGMO Belt-fed Physician

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    sere= Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape. Navy does theirs in Maine, USAF in Spokane, WA and the USAF Academy. Not sure where he army does theirs.

    It is basically 3wks of campfires and eating marshmellows... :smuggrin:
  13. Flight surgeon

    Flight surgeon

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    Would our Air Force recruiters mis lead us?:D
  14. AF M4

    AF M4 Junior Member

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    Heavens! I'm surprised that your hair did not burst into flame for even thinking such a thought. :rolleyes:
  15. Osteo4life

    Osteo4life

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    If anyone has any knowledge about reserves and whether or not they have flight surgeons I would appreciate it if they could answer some of the questions I have below. Thanks!

    It is possible for someone to be a flight surgeon by doing navy reserve and if so when will someone be able to do this in their timeline of their medical career? Will it occur after residency or after completing an internship or medical school? I really want to be a flight surgeon, but can I do it through navy reserve or do I have to do it through HPSP as a GMO tour. Will flight surgeons in the navy reserve be turned into active duty when they want to do their FS tour or will they only be in charge of reserve squadrons.

    Yet again, thank you for your responses.
  16. Race1

    Race1

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    I'm an incoming 4th year AF HPSP student. I'm interested in ophthalmology but am a fairly average student and probly don't have a realistic chance of getting ophtho in the civilian world. After talking with an AF ophthalmologist, she encouraged me to apply to the AF's ophtho program at Wilford hall, and if I don't get in, do transitional PGY-1 and reapply. If I still don't get in, she suggested becoming a FS for a few years and reapply as I'd have a stronger chance of getting in after a 2 or 4 year stint as a FS. She said the AF might offer the ophtho residency on the condition that i reup (which I'd be fine with). Does that sound like a reasonable plan?

    My second residency choice is Family Practice. Can I enter a FP residency after a PGY-1 year if I decide I want to go that route instead of FS?

    Also, I'm married and have a 1 yo. While I don't mind the FS job description, if I do FS, will my family be able to join me on most assignments in the AF? Or will I be separated from them for long periods of time.

    So to sum up, I'm looking at ophtho, FP, and FS:
    1) Do I stand a chance of getting ophtho by reapplying again and again and again as an average medical student?
    2) Can I enter FP after a PGY-1 year?
    3) What is family life like as a FS in the AF?
  17. here4now

    here4now

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    Hi,
    I've read through these threads, and see that alot of my questions were answered, and many people have the same problems I do.... basically, I'm a new intern for the AF and during my 4th yr of med school I discovered I don't like the field I've chosen. I want to leave after my 1st yr. I don't really know who to talk to about walking away from my residency. But I guess I would go to FS.... here are my questions:
    - do I have to go through SERE to be a FS? What if I picked GMO instead, would I have to go to SERE?
    - I heard people get hurt (ie broken fingers, eat feces, etc) during SERE, is that true? (I understand that us docs don't go through baby-SERE anymore), so does anyone really know about the full SERE?
    Obviously I'm a whimp... so I want to know the real deal about it.

    Also, what is the likelihood that I would get anywhere close to my top picks for billets? Who do I talk to about it?

    Thanks!
  18. Wineinger

    Wineinger

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    As of right now, if you want to be a flight surgeon you must do SERE. That goes for active, reserve, and ANG FS's. SERE is not fun as I hear, but not what you hear. Nobody dies or gets bones broken on purpose. A lot of stress positions, sleep deprivation, and mind games. I hesitate to become a flight surgeon because of SERE, but heck 20 y/o loadmasters do it all the time as well as flight nurses - can't be that bad, but maybe I'm wrong - I haven't been...yet.
  19. SmarterNow

    SmarterNow

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    Sort of an old post but to answer the question about SERE; don't let the fear of that course keep anyone from joining the Air Force, it's all about mind games; to see if you can hack it. They won't beat you (too hard) or starve you (too much), they want to see how you cope but also teach you how to cope. In my opinion it's a waste of time for the AF to put doctors through this. There have been only a handful of physicians that have ended up crashed in the middle of nowhwere in the last 70 years. A few in WWII, a couple in Korea and Vietnam, Desert Storm, that's it. Complete waste of money. They would be better off sending all physicians to a trauma surgery course. But back to the point; anyone can survive SERE; it's all in the mind. Best way to prepare for it is to be in good physical shape.

    About older doctors, yes, they will take a bit of pity on anyone over 30-40, but not much. Crawl through a mud puddle on your elbows and knees, yup. In the end you will be proud that you made it through, like a badge of courage, so keep that in mind.

    About choice of residency; once you are in they own you. If they only need you for one year as a GMO or flight surgeon then you might get lucky and get into a residency in a year, but probably not. Most likely you will spend a minimum of two years, maximum of four years, at your first assignment before they will let you go into training. You apply like everyone else and takes your chances.

    About a radiologist wanting to be a flight surgeon. You must have primary care privileges in order to be a flight surgeon, and the only way to get credentialed in primary care is to be relatively current in practice or after completing a primary care post graduate training course. So maybe if within a couple of years of completing a first year general internship, but JCAHO rules have changed in the last few years relating to clinical privileges. The person to ask would be in the credentialling office at an Air Force hospital or larger clinic. Your recruiter could contact that office and find out for you,

    About flying in fighter jets; as mentioned by someone else, two seat fighter jets are going away fast, so you would have to be assigned to a base that has F-16's or F-15's in the AF. Flight Surgeons have what are referred to as AO's or Aeronautical Orders. What these state is that you are required to "Fly Frequently and Regularly", which means a minimum of four hours a month. This is often hard to do in fighters as their sorties or flying time is usually about 1 1/2 hours max per flight. So that means flying at least three times a month. Depending on who your boss is will determine to a more or less degree how often they will let you go fly. In today's Air Force, the Commander of the Hospital may be a physician, a nurse, or PA, or even an optometrist, really. I've found that some non-physicians look at flight surgeons who want to go fly as just trying to get away from work. They do not see it as part of your job, they see it as goofing off. What none of them understand is the importance of those aeronautical orders that flight surgeons have stating "Must Fly Frequently and Regularly". In fact, if you don't complete the minimum four hours of flight time a month a letter goes from the flight management office to your supervisor notifying him/her that you failed to meet that requirement. The only other groups that have aeronautical orders are pilots and navigators. Flight nurses are not issued AO's. On the other hand, if you don't make the four hour minimum you're not in trouble, but it can affect your flight pay eventually. It is much easier to get the required number of hours if you're assigned to a base/squadron with C-5's, C-17's, or C-130's for example, their training missions are usually much longer than in fighters.

    Getting late, more later if anyone has any questions or updates from last year??
  20. Tic

    Tic

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    SERE for flight docs has now been moved back to San Antonio, so it's definitely nothing to worry about...
  21. MaximusD

    MaximusD Anatomically Incorrect

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    How soon after I in-process at my base and take AMP will I be required to take SERE?
  22. Tic

    Tic

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    The requirement is 1 year for all upgrade items, including the complete AMP series and any SERE components appropriate to your airframe. Typically though you'll be scheduled for all of it back-to-back, such that you're done with everything and back at your installation practicing medicine by Halloween.

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