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Dec 22, 2018
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Hey folks!

I'm considering looking into reaching out to the Air Force to get into the HPSP starting in MS2, but had a quick question. I have my pilot's license already but don't necessarily want to fly military aircraft (or at least that frequently), is this something I'd have to do in the air force? (is this a prerequisite to be a flight surgeon, or are only a few flight surgeons rated aviators?) I don't mind being onboard, but don't necessarily think I need to be flying the plane all the time.
 
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Saddleshoes

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Oct 28, 2007
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Of all the flight surgeons I have known, only one was qualified to fly military aircraft. A few of the others had general aviation pilot's license. Most were just MD's with an interest in taking care of flyers and their special medical needs.
 

armytrainingsir

2+ Year Member
Jun 15, 2017
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Of all the flight surgeons I have known, only one was qualified to fly military aircraft. A few of the others had general aviation pilot's license. Most were just MD's with an interest in taking care of flyers and their special medical needs.
IME, flight surgeons generally fell into two camps.
1) Those that were assigned to do it, did so begrudgingly, and moved on.
2) Those who wanted to be military pilots, but unable to for whatever reason, and sought as much flight time as possible in whatever capacity they could.
Of course, there are exceptions.

Of all the general aviation pilots I've known, every single one of them would gladly give their left nut to be able fly pretty much any current inventory military aircraft. OP just proves I haven't meant enough GA pilots, haha.

And I never have quite figured out the Aerospace Medicine folks. ;)
 
Dec 22, 2018
213
229
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Medical Student
Of all the general aviation pilots I've known, every single one of them would gladly give their left nut to be able fly pretty much any current inventory military aircraft. OP just proves I haven't meant enough GA pilots, haha.
Guess I'm a bit of an outlier, I love aviation, and love having my PPL, and wouldn't mind hopping at the controls of a giant military plane, but maybe I just worry that I'd not be "piloting" to the standard of a sole military aviator. I also am more of a fan of the transports than the fighters (though I don't think I'd be flying one of those myself anyway). I like to fly for the stellar views and unique perspective, definitely a form of relaxation which can't be beat. I'd be super excited to pursue any avenue of medicine in the Air Force, and look forward to seeing if I can squeeze out an HPSP scholarship from Uncle Sam.
 
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pawprint

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Mar 4, 2014
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If you are looking for more time around aircraft and actually get time in the cockpit (but not be the sole person in control), becoming a Navy flight surgeon would suite you better.

Air force flight surgeons have a 5-6 week course on how to do aviation occupational medicine, it doesn't have much to do with actually flying. Your job is to work in the clinic 5 days a week doing physicals/sick call for air force pilots.

Navy flight surgeons are trained in a 6-8 month course, 2-3 of those months you spend in flight school alongside normal Navy pilots. The expectations, however, are much less. There's a 5 week ground school component where you are expected to pass the basic ground school tests with the same standards as pilots (covering basic weather, flight rules, engines), but theres so much study material out there that it is not difficult. After that, you head off to primary in the T-6 Texan II where you actually get to fly with an instructor pilot several times. You set the expectations, if you just want to go along for the ride and let the instructor do all the work, they are totally fine with that. If you want to try taking the controls to do loops/aerobatics, the instructor will follow along on the controls and make sure you don't crash it but you'll get to do it. You also get to fly in the TH-57 helicopter with an instructor pilot several times with the same type of expectations.

Once you head out to the fleet, you are supposed to get a minimum of 4 hours of flight time per month (up front at the controls with a designated pilot running the show next to you). Again, if you just want to go along for the ride, the designated pilot will be cool with that but if you want to do more, you can.

As a Navy flight surgeon, You are a class II pilot which means you are never allowed to fly a military aircraft by yourself, there will always be a designated class I pilot at the controls too.

As for hours, you work 2.5 days a week in clinic and the other 2.5 days you spend with your squadron doing admin stuff/flying. Its a pretty sweet gig that gets you actively involved in aviation while also practicing medicine.

The best route to become a Navy flight surgeon: HPSP -> 1 year military internship -> 1 year flight school in Pensacola, FL -> 3 years flight surgeon assigned to either a Navy or Marine squadron -> done with military commitment -> off to civilian residency. You'll get paid about 30k/year on HPSP, 80k for internship year, 100k/year from flight school year through time as flight surgeon. If you want to stay a flight surgeon for your career, you can apply for the Navy Residency in Aerospace Medicine after your flight surgery tour and be board certified in occupational medicine for aviators. You'll then work at a higher up level in the Navy aviation environment (for example, head flight surgeon for a whole aircraft wing with baby flight surgeons working beneath you).

Can't speak for the air force path as I am a Navy flight surgeon, but the Navy route is awesome and totally worth it for someone wanting exposure to military aviation in my opinion.
 

starbuck2

7+ Year Member
Jan 8, 2013
35
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Pre-Medical, Medical Student
If you are looking for more time around aircraft and actually get time in the cockpit (but not be the sole person in control), becoming a Navy flight surgeon would suite you better.

Air force flight surgeons have a 5-6 week course on how to do aviation occupational medicine, it doesn't have much to do with actually flying. Your job is to work in the clinic 5 days a week doing physicals/sick call for air force pilots.

Navy flight surgeons are trained in a 6-8 month course, 2-3 of those months you spend in flight school alongside normal Navy pilots. The expectations, however, are much less. There's a 5 week ground school component where you are expected to pass the basic ground school tests with the same standards as pilots (covering basic weather, flight rules, engines), but theres so much study material out there that it is not difficult. After that, you head off to primary in the T-6 Texan II where you actually get to fly with an instructor pilot several times. You set the expectations, if you just want to go along for the ride and let the instructor do all the work, they are totally fine with that. If you want to try taking the controls to do loops/aerobatics, the instructor will follow along on the controls and make sure you don't crash it but you'll get to do it. You also get to fly in the TH-57 helicopter with an instructor pilot several times with the same type of expectations.

Once you head out to the fleet, you are supposed to get a minimum of 4 hours of flight time per month (up front at the controls with a designated pilot running the show next to you). Again, if you just want to go along for the ride, the designated pilot will be cool with that but if you want to do more, you can.

As a Navy flight surgeon, You are a class II pilot which means you are never allowed to fly a military aircraft by yourself, there will always be a designated class I pilot at the controls too.

As for hours, you work 2.5 days a week in clinic and the other 2.5 days you spend with your squadron doing admin stuff/flying. Its a pretty sweet gig that gets you actively involved in aviation while also practicing medicine.

The best route to become a Navy flight surgeon: HPSP -> 1 year military internship -> 1 year flight school in Pensacola, FL -> 3 years flight surgeon assigned to either a Navy or Marine squadron -> done with military commitment -> off to civilian residency. You'll get paid about 30k/year on HPSP, 80k for internship year, 100k/year from flight school year through time as flight surgeon. If you want to stay a flight surgeon for your career, you can apply for the Navy Residency in Aerospace Medicine after your flight surgery tour and be board certified in occupational medicine for aviators. You'll then work at a higher up level in the Navy aviation environment (for example, head flight surgeon for a whole aircraft wing with baby flight surgeons working beneath you).

Can't speak for the air force path as I am a Navy flight surgeon, but the Navy route is awesome and totally worth it for someone wanting exposure to military aviation in my opinion.
Do you know any folks In the navy who go through residency then to flight surgery? My line of thought is specifically with internal medicine but I’m sure other fields would also apply. In other words, does anyone go straight through in IM then decide to volunteer for flight surgery for the experience of it?
 
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pawprint

5+ Year Member
Mar 4, 2014
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Yes, although it’s much less common. Typically once you finish IM residency, the detailer is going to put you into an IM attending billet. It would be a waste of their money to train you in IM and then you switch to be a flight surgeon immediately before practicing in an IM attending role. That being said, anything is possible, and the Navy needs flight surgeons. There are several specialties now that are being recruited to send attendings to flight school to be flight surgeons. So it’s a fluid time.
 

orbitsurgMD

Senior Member
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Dec 27, 2005
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Do you know any folks In the navy who go through residency then to flight surgery? My line of thought is specifically with internal medicine but I’m sure other fields would also apply. In other words, does anyone go straight through in IM then decide to volunteer for flight surgery for the experience of it?
Anything is possible. If your specialty becomes overmanned and you happen to have flight surgeon's wings, you could be detailed to a flight surgeon billet if there is a need. It has happened before.
 
Oct 31, 2019
25
14
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Resident [Any Field]
Do you know any folks In the navy who go through residency then to flight surgery? My line of thought is specifically with internal medicine but I’m sure other fields would also apply. In other words, does anyone go straight through in IM then decide to volunteer for flight surgery for the experience of it?
After a "utilization"your in your primary specialty you can usually negotiate better/more interesting orders and cool things. Flight surgery or dive being some of the things.
 
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FlightDocDan

7+ Year Member
Mar 16, 2012
4
1
Status
Attending Physician
If you are looking for more time around aircraft and actually get time in the cockpit (but not be the sole person in control), becoming a Navy flight surgeon would suite you better.

Air force flight surgeons have a 5-6 week course on how to do aviation occupational medicine, it doesn't have much to do with actually flying. Your job is to work in the clinic 5 days a week doing physicals/sick call for air force pilots.

Navy flight surgeons are trained in a 6-8 month course, 2-3 of those months you spend in flight school alongside normal Navy pilots. The expectations, however, are much less. There's a 5 week ground school component where you are expected to pass the basic ground school tests with the same standards as pilots (covering basic weather, flight rules, engines), but theres so much study material out there that it is not difficult. After that, you head off to primary in the T-6 Texan II where you actually get to fly with an instructor pilot several times. You set the expectations, if you just want to go along for the ride and let the instructor do all the work, they are totally fine with that. If you want to try taking the controls to do loops/aerobatics, the instructor will follow along on the controls and make sure you don't crash it but you'll get to do it. You also get to fly in the TH-57 helicopter with an instructor pilot several times with the same type of expectations.

Once you head out to the fleet, you are supposed to get a minimum of 4 hours of flight time per month (up front at the controls with a designated pilot running the show next to you). Again, if you just want to go along for the ride, the designated pilot will be cool with that but if you want to do more, you can.

As a Navy flight surgeon, You are a class II pilot which means you are never allowed to fly a military aircraft by yourself, there will always be a designated class I pilot at the controls too.

As for hours, you work 2.5 days a week in clinic and the other 2.5 days you spend with your squadron doing admin stuff/flying. Its a pretty sweet gig that gets you actively involved in aviation while also practicing medicine.

The best route to become a Navy flight surgeon: HPSP -> 1 year military internship -> 1 year flight school in Pensacola, FL -> 3 years flight surgeon assigned to either a Navy or Marine squadron -> done with military commitment -> off to civilian residency. You'll get paid about 30k/year on HPSP, 80k for internship year, 100k/year from flight school year through time as flight surgeon. If you want to stay a flight surgeon for your career, you can apply for the Navy Residency in Aerospace Medicine after your flight surgery tour and be board certified in occupational medicine for aviators. You'll then work at a higher up level in the Navy aviation environment (for example, head flight surgeon for a whole aircraft wing with baby flight surgeons working beneath you).

Can't speak for the air force path as I am a Navy flight surgeon, but the Navy route is awesome and totally worth it for someone wanting exposure to military aviation in my opinion.
Navy Flight Surgeon is probably the best deal ever as a physician who likes flying. Location and unit dependent but there are many opportunities to fly various types of military aircrafts. You can be a passenger or be at the controls with a designated pilot (4 hours of flight time per months in any capacity will satisfy that requirement) depend on your level of interests.

If you want to fly military aircraft SOLO and do pilot job in addition to being a doctor, look into Pilot-Physician Program for USAF or Aeromedical Dual Designation Program for USN.
 
Jan 18, 2019
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0
I looked into the Pilot-physician and AMDO programs but, ultimately, my wife and I decided that would be too much mandatory time in the military if selected. I am already a non-trad student, so age is a thing. However I have a few questions regarding Navy flight surgeons in particular:

1. Are you limited to the 4 hours a month? Or are squadrons typically happy to take you up a little more than that when they can?

2. How involved in squadron life are you typically outside of your medical duties? Do you feel like a member or more an outsider?

3. Any age requirement?

4. MD/DO doesn’t matter I assume? Being a non-traditional student, I am applying to both.
 
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Oct 31, 2019
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Resident [Any Field]
I looked into the Pilot-physician and AMDO programs but, ultimately, my wife and I decided that would be too much mandatory time in the military if selected. I am already a non-trad student, so age is a thing. However I have a few questions regarding Navy flight surgeons in particular:

1. Are you limited to the 4 hours a month? Or are squadrons typically happy to take you up a little more than that when they can?

2. How involved in squadron life are you typically outside of your medical duties? Do you feel like a member or more an outsider?

3. Any age requirement?

4. MD/DO doesn’t matter I assume? Being a non-traditional student, I am applying to both.
1. No limit. The only limit is your availability balancing admin work for the squadron and clinic work. Sometimes it's easy to get 10 hours, sometimes it's hard to get 2. Also depends on what type of platform you're attached to. If you're attached to an F35, Harrier, or drone squadron, you're going to have to become friends with other squadrons (likely rotary) to get flights.
2. This is very dependent on you. I've seen some people that are very outsider, and others that are pretty much welcomed to the ready room like a fellow pilot. I've seen some flight docs that are viewed more as part of the squadron than some pilots in that squadron.
3. So long as you can make it through the swim and physical qualifications of flight school, age shouldn't be a factor.
4. No, MD/DO doesn't matter anywhere in the military that I'm aware of.
 

parisyedda

2+ Year Member
Jun 29, 2016
8
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey folks!

I'm considering looking into reaching out to the Air Force to get into the HPSP starting in MS2, but had a quick question. I have my pilot's license already but don't necessarily want to fly military aircraft (or at least that frequently), is this something I'd have to do in the air force? (is this a prerequisite to be a flight surgeon, or are only a few flight surgeons rated aviators?) I don't mind being onboard, but don't necessarily think I need to be flying the plane all the time.

look up Physician Pilot Program. it is a thing, it does exist. that being said, from my reading it looked like these guys were 85% pilot, 15% doctor. PPP are fully qualified pilots, who also serve as flight surgeons for their group (not sure the exact terminology). the one guy that wrote a lil bio about it had a fascinating career. got an md, joined the air force, went to pilot school qualified for f-15c, then moved on to be the only physician qualified to fly the f-22. they were having hypoxia problems with pilots in that airplane, so they put him in it and told him to figure it out. i think he goes on to say that he currently spends like 1-2 days a week practicing medicine, and the rest teaching/training pilots. i imagine you eventually sorta age out of fighter jets, at which point having an MD is probably a lot better back-half career than the other pilots have lined up.

All that being said, i have no idea how competitive/likely it is for you to be able to follow into something similar.
 

FlightDocDan

7+ Year Member
Mar 16, 2012
4
1
Status
Attending Physician
I looked into the Pilot-physician and AMDO programs but, ultimately, my wife and I decided that would be too much mandatory time in the military if selected. I am already a non-trad student, so age is a thing. However I have a few questions regarding Navy flight surgeons in particular:

1. Are you limited to the 4 hours a month? Or are squadrons typically happy to take you up a little more than that when they can?

2. How involved in squadron life are you typically outside of your medical duties? Do you feel like a member or more an outsider?

3. Any age requirement?

4. MD/DO doesn’t matter I assume? Being a non-traditional student, I am applying to both.
Concur with everything flightdoc09 said about navy flight doc.

1. 4 hour per month (average) is minimum you need for your flight pay (just over $100/month to start.) You don't have to fly if you choose not to collect flight pay (although, why be a flight doc and not fly...) Actual hours are variable months to months and based on many factors as flightdoc09 mentioned - your preference, aircraft platform, availability, work load, etc. I can easily get 6-8 hours of flight time in a day sitting in the back of a big wing aircraft or chip away 1-2 hours at a time flying high performance aircraft at the controls. There are few months I didn't fly at all and other time I flew daily for a whole week (multiple flights a day.) Easier to arrange flights and get more hours more engaging you are with your squadrons (or any squadrons you fly with.)

2. You have the control to drive this. Your job will keep you in clinic as much as you let yourself (there are always work to be done in the clinic.) Get out to squadron spaces regularly, participate in squadron events, and FLY whenever possible. They will take care of you just as they would anyone else wearing the same squadron patch. On the other hand, you can get your job done and be a successful flight doc without your squadron guys know much about your existence unless they get sick and see you in clinic.

3. No age requirement for becoming a Flight Surgeon as long as you physically qualify as aircrew (flight doc standard) and able to pass the training requirments. If you are considering AMDD program, however, you will have to meet the physical standard of a pilot AND accepted before turning 32 (can request the age waiver - I just past my 32nd birthday when I applied.)

4. No difference.

Not sure how Airforce PPP is like but the Navy AMDD program typically accept navy pilot --> doctor returning as a Flight Doc for the most part. The same instruction does allow doc --> pilot occasionally. You will have to go through more endorsement of your application and you will have to complete the full pilot training (approx 2 year long). Your obligation is 8 years, which begins upon completion of flight training (get your Naval Aviator wings.) Definitely a career military option (20+) doing this for sure.
 
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Oct 31, 2019
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Navy flight surgeons used to have the options of soloing in a T 34. I never heard of one crashing. I think they did it at Choctaw.
I would've loved to solo. Or even just get more flying time. They've been gradually chopping away at the flight surgeon curriculum. It used to be because the line officers at the VTs used to hate wasting resources on flight surgeons. But now it's because Navy Medicine wants to add on an additional 6 months to payback if flight surgeons take longer than 180 days (or something like that) to go through API/Primary/NAMI.
 

DrMetal

To shred or not shred?
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In the voice of Jerry Seinfeld: "Flight surgeons, who understands them?! They don't fly, they don't do surgery."
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Do you know any folks In the navy who go through residency then to flight surgery? My line of thought is specifically with internal medicine but I’m sure other fields would also apply. In other words, does anyone go straight through in IM then decide to volunteer for flight surgery for the experience of it?
Sorry this is so late, but I know someone who is in Pensacola now training to be a flight doc who did it right out of residency. So it does happen, just less commonly as was said.
 
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orbitsurgMD

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Navy flight surgeons used to have the options of soloing in a T 34. I never heard of one crashing. I think they did it at Choctaw.
NAS Whiting Field in Milton, FL, northeast of Pensacola.
 

orbitsurgMD

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What type of swim training is it. Like do they have a name for it (assuming it’s the same training as another career). I wouldn’t mind going through navy training lol
More like testing than training. Things like drownproofing, swimming the length of the tank on one breath of air, etc, then the dunker devices which are the Dilbert Dunker which simulates a single seat cockpit entering the water and inverting--you have to learn an organized egress technique, and the Helo Dunker, which is a simulated large helicopter fuselage dropping onto water then sinking and inverting, and you need to demonstrate an organized egress procedure, then there is the parachute on water landing which is done by a towed parachute flight from a barge in Pensacola Bay during which you release the tow cable and make a parachute landing in the water, following a procedure taught for a sequential disengagement from the harness and parachute as you approach the water. There is a short land survival course at Eglin (not SERE). This isn't combat swimmer training as done in Coronado.
 

FlightDocDan

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Mar 16, 2012
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More like testing than training. Things like drownproofing, swimming the length of the tank on one breath of air, etc, then the dunker devices which are the Dilbert Dunker which simulates a single seat cockpit entering the water and inverting--you have to learn an organized egress technique, and the Helo Dunker, which is a simulated large helicopter fuselage dropping onto water then sinking and inverting, and you need to demonstrate an organized egress procedure, then there is the parachute on water landing which is done by a towed parachute flight from a barge in Pensacola Bay during which you release the tow cable and make a parachute landing in the water, following a procedure taught for a sequential disengagement from the harness and parachute as you approach the water. There is a short land survival course at Eglin (not SERE). This isn't combat swimmer training as done in Coronado.
And don't forget the 1 mile swim in flight suits. Never wanna do that part again (thankfully its one and done deal.) I enjoyed the helo dunker though it was actually pretty fun (renewal every 4 years if you maintain your flight status.)
 

Unlucky Asian

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Can a person do flight/dive med in the reserves? I'm interested in milmed specifically for these options, but I'm a little hesitant with the active duty commitment from something like HPSP. It's been on my mind now that I'm actually applying to med schools, but I'm worried about being away from family for too long if I did GMO/out.
 

ProwlerturnGas

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The ability to to FS/UMO is there as a reservist. However, it is very difficult to obtain funding and this does not happen much. Way easier when early in your career to go on active duty and train then after commitment affiliate with reserves.
 
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