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Flight Surgeon AND Naval Aviator

Discussion in 'Military Medicine' started by m015094, Mar 6, 2007.

  1. m015094

    10+ Year Member

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    #1 m015094, Mar 6, 2007
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
  2. ExNavyRad

    ExNavyRad Jedi Radiologist
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    I doubt it. Being "dual-designated" is/was a pretty rare thing, even "back in the day" when I was a FS. The only (very) few who were "dual-designated" started out as Naval aviators, then went to med school. I've never heard of anybody doing it the other way around. (Med school first, then Naval aviator)

    One guy in my flight surgeon class was a former S-3 guy, and I heard he was trying to get his dual ticket, but had a lot of hoops to jump through, but finally did it after several years of trying. Another guy was a former USMC Harrier pilot (AV-8A, shows you how old I am), and he never thought it was worth the effort to try.

    Supposedly, the Navy tried to go with the dual-designated thing back in the Viet Nam era in a bigger way, but found that the dual ticket guys were crashing and killing themselves at a much higher rate than regular aviators, so they canned the program except for a very select few.

    ExNavyRad
     
  3. pathognomonic

    pathognomonic Member
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    I know a few guys who are either dual-designated or had the option to be. All started out as a Naval Aviator or NFO and later earned flight surgeon or areospace physiologist wings. It is not possible to go the other way. The biggest problem the dual guys had was maintaining NATOPS qualification and still covering their clinical duties. In addition, it was difficult to serve two very demanding masters - Naval aviation and medicine. One of my friends who was dual (former Cobra helo driver) finally got tired of feeling like he was "half-a$$ing" both jobs and gave up his Naval Aviator designator. I know two other guys (both P-3) who thought about dual-designator and decided it would make their life too difficult. I do know one individual attached to a training squadron that serves as a flight doc and a flight instructor, but he has no life at all outside of work. Bottom line - if you want to be a doctor, be a doctor. If you want to be a pilot, be a pilot. If you want to be both, be a pilot first (need to commission by age 26 unless prior service) and then a doc (nobody cares how old you are comparatively).

    $0.02 from someone who wanted to be both. ;)
     
  4. trixmd

    trixmd Member
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    My buddy might be that doc M saw CQ'ing. He's a great dude and crazy smart. He was the last guy to get picked up as a true dual designator - went to med school, then flight surgery school, did a tour as a flight doc, then became an SNA. He's in residency after doing a fleet tour with an S3 squadron and (I think) another short FS tour. Another dude, was the FS at either K-rock or Meridian, finished that syllabus, and then applied for the DD program. He flew F14s (CVW 1, I think) and last time I saw him, was going something with the VX's.

    There are bunch of prior aviators who went to med school - some are dual designators, some are just flight docs, a couple walked away from it completely. There's a handful of flight physiologists around who were winged aviators and transitioned. They go thru a short course at NAMI, and skip the API/Primary phase. Some of them are Aeromedical Safety O's, some run chambers.

    I think the dual designator program is done - one of the NAMI flight doc's was selected as an alternate in a year when they selected no one (2003 or 2004? I forget). Another flight doc at Whiting went thru the whole HT syllabus about the same time, and got the commodore's endorsement to get NA wings, but got squashed in the end. Those guys are either in or selected for residency. I've not heard of any other selects or attempts from the TRACOM's.

    These days, to be selected for 05, a Navy doc either has to have done or be in residency. The residency in Aerospace Medicine doesn't seem to count either these days, as almost all of those guys have gone back for a clinical residency. Moreover, to be selected for the RAM program now, a clinical residency is required.

    Probably more info than you all needed. PM me if you have more Qs.

    Trix
     
  5. OP
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    m015094

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    Thanks for the replies. It probably was the same guy - he was in the S-3 RAG. Yeah, that guy was crazy smart. It was a little strange, however, having him hang around the ready room with us and then have him do the whole "bend over and cough" thing on our flight physicals.
     
  6. Apollyon

    Apollyon Screw the GST
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    The medical director of the ED where I was a resident (you can PM me for his name) did med school and residency (civilian) and then went into the Navy as an FS, and got rotary wing qualified (primary). I don't know if that's in the same boat (no pun intended) as fixed-wing, but he did it.
     
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  7. Tomcatdoc

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    I stumbled across this blog many years after it was posted, however:

    The USN AMDD program (OPNAVINST 1542.4 series) is alive and well.
    The program is intended primarily to take Naval Flight Surgeons with aviation backgrounds and return them to the cockpit for a tour in order to reap benefits from their prior experiences. There are many prior aviators who ended up in medicine/flight medicine. But to be returned to the cockpit there are many (legal) hoops to jump through. The main problem being that a staff corps officer is not a line officer and must get a waiver from CNO in order to sign for an operate the aircraft as pilot in command (staff corp officers cannot be in command of a line vessel or aircraft without specific authorization).
    Currently the program is accepting applicants as they arise and express interest.
    Many of the stories of Docs trying to fly and make their way into the naval aviator world in the past are outside the AMDD program and are something that they tried to do on their own and not being part of the program ran afoul of rules regulations etc.
    In order to fly as PIC you must be in the AMDD program, per navy regs (3710.7)
    Flight Surgeons can fly in the pilot position if not part of the program, buy they are limited in what they can do and must fly with a rated pilot (see 3710.7 for details).

    As far as Flight Docs becoming pilots,...it has happened in the past in very very very very unusual circumstances with exceptional candidates. The approximate cost for doing this is staggering as you might expect, currently the program does not have $$$ for denovo training as it once had many many years ago. Of the few that did go "retrograde" (FS to aviator) so to speak, were Dr C and Dr B1, both went on to become NASA Astronauts and both were unfortunately killed (one in the recent space shuttle disaster) Both were crazy smart and had the exceptional talents to fly also.
    Also, Dr B2 is the current CNAF Force Surgeon and he was a Flight Doc first.
    Dr L and myself (Dr A) were docs first and accepted for training in 1999. Dr L went on to fly the EA6B and I went on to fly the Tomcat w CVW1 as a squadron pilot, I am currently a Test Director at VX-9 doing Super Hornet aircraft test and weapons test.
    The S3 guy who went through was Dr B3 (seems they all start w B). He's a Radiology Specialist still in the USN. The current AMDD program has 27 personnel that are active or on non flying training elsewhere in the USN system, 9 are actively flying.
    Typical areas of aviation for AMDD billets include: Test, FRS, training command, safety center, with test having priority.

    We accept Naval Flight Surgeons and Aerospace Physiologists, Psychologists and Aerospace Optometrists in to the program, those with Aviator or NFO backgrounds.

    Getting promoted beyond O-4 now requires residency training, O-6 requires a lot of hospital based responsibilities also. If you want a career in aviation, the RAM (residency in Aerospace Medicine) is a way to stay in the aviation and medicine worlds. O-5 is about the cap of what you can expect if you want to stay in operational medicine. Obviously a personal choice, but retiring an O-5, and happy is a bunch better than unhappy in an MTF trying to scrabble for O-6.

    As far as trying to do both jobs and do them well, yes it can be done, I work 60-75 hours a week, if you don't want to work so hard then, no, the jobs probably not worth it. I certainly think it is, I spend about 25-30 hours per week in clinic (of the 20 hours I promised them) and the remainder flying and administering test.
    Worth it? You bet, Absolutely!: I flew BFM, dropped bombs, did night CAS as well as taught NVG flights as well as other specialty areas ... all in the last 2 weeks. I get to train and use all the newest warfighting technologies.


    I have the best job in the world. Period. I don't want to ever stop.

    So it can be done but not if you aren't willing to put exceptional effort in. You can do both well, but you can't approach it half heartedly. I think I have a life outside work also, if I don't I don't know it. There's plenty to do around here (4x4, motorcycling, gunsports, camping fishing and raising a family as well as teaching them to do it). Maybe I'm ADHD?

    Just as a thought: If you left Naval Aviation to pursue medicine then you have probably already satisfied the yearning in your heart for aviation, kinda by definition.
    If not:
    I am the AMDD Program Director and can answer your questions one on one. if you need application info, please access the instruction and the application procedures are in there. If you are on the @med.navy.mil system, pull up BHC China Lake and look at the names, you'll figure out how to get in touch w me.

    Dr A
     
  8. aegis

    aegis Primary Care and Aerospace
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    From the Air Force side of the house I can tell you that this is some that still goes on. It's possible, but rare for a flight doc to go to UPT get another set of wings and have a foot in either world. However, I completely agree with the above comment. Regardless of Navy or Air Force these are two fields that require daily mastery and it would not be possible to excel at both.
     
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