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Flight surgery

Discussion in 'Military Medicine' started by MDS, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. MDS

    MDS 2+ Year Member

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    Nov 9, 2006
    Hello. I am a fourth year medical student, recently matched into family medicine. While family medicine was my first choice in terms of residency options during the match process, I find myself now wishing I had signed up to do flight surgery instead. Is it possible to make this transition post intern year? I have contacted the HPSP contact number, Matt Kush regarding this transition and he seemed to indicate that this transition was simply not possible. However, I have recently read of services such as the Army that allow for you to reapply and follow such a route. Can anyone tell me how I might do this in the Air Force and who I should contact regarding such a change. I would really appreciate your help.
     
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  3. AF M4

    AF M4 Junior Member 7+ Year Member

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    Jul 6, 2006
    During an ER rotation at an AF base I met an intern there (in the ER program) who had started at an AF Family Medicine residency, found that he didn't like it and managed to become a flight surgeon then get into an ER residency in the Air Force. He did have to complete his first year of the Family Medicine residency before doing this, and he indicated that he had to go through a substantial amount of trouble to do it. If you decide to do so, remember that your case will be unusual and there are no bureaucratic protocols written for the personnel department to authorize this kind of move, so you'll have to deal with a lot of administrative headaches. That said, the Air Force is focusing more and more on operational medicine (I've heard that in a few years they'll likely follow the Navy's formal policy of requiring everyone do a GMO tour before going into residency) so they'll likely be happy to have another flight surgeon.
     
  4. West Side

    West Side 5+ Year Member

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    Jan 8, 2007
    Logic would suggest that the laws of supply and demand would allow you to shoot over to a FS position pretty easily. I mean, isn't the military dying for operational medical personnel?

    I'd be interested to find out how that process works, too. Who needs to get involved? If you're inventing a new path, I would imagine you need to get in contact with all those involved in both your residency and flight surgury assignments, but as a civilian, I don't know who the hell those people are.
     
  5. deuist

    deuist Stealthfully Sarcastic Physician Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    Jun 14, 2004
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    You could stay on in FM and then become a flight surgeon. Several physicians in the past have taken their first post-residency assignment as flight docs.
     
  6. MDS

    MDS 2+ Year Member

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    Nov 9, 2006
    I have heard that to execute this plan, one might participate in a re-application process; thus applying alongside the incoming intern class through the JGSME. This is the process that the army seems to use. Any idea to the validity of this route in the AF?
     
  7. dtn3t

    dtn3t Member 10+ Year Member

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    Jun 2, 2004
    Depends on what you want; Do you want to be a flight surgeon or do a residency in Aerospace medicine? There's only a few spots for the residency given out each year, whereas anyone can be a flight surgeon after internship or residency. All you have to do is ask.
     
  8. MDS

    MDS 2+ Year Member

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    Nov 9, 2006
    Thank you very much to everyone posting in the effort to answer all of my flight surgery questions. dtn3t, is it really that easy to just switch to flight surgery? In response to your post, I am more interested in serving as a flight surgeon than to switch residencies to Aerospace medicine. In this vein, do you know who I should talk to in order to switch? As I mentioned previously, the civilians in the JGSME office dont seem to be helping much. Thanks
     
  9. dtn3t

    dtn3t Member 10+ Year Member

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    Jun 2, 2004
    Don't know how the Air Force works, but in the Army anyone (FP, IM, Peds, etc) can ask to do FS after residency and get it. No need to start anything now. All you have to do is take the course (6 weeks for the Army, probably the same for the AF) and you'll get your wings and become a FS. And I think you have to know that you're not "switching" to FS, you're just working in an operational billet as a flight surgeon. FPs are still FPs, Pediatricians are still pediatricians, etc.
     
  10. MDS

    MDS 2+ Year Member

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    Nov 9, 2006
    So, my hope is to be able to switch from a family medicine residency, to a family medicine transition year, and then do flight medicine thereafter. Thus, I would be putting off completing my residency over the four years that I am working as a flight surgeon. Is this possible?
     
  11. deuist

    deuist Stealthfully Sarcastic Physician Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    I don't know how feasible switching from residency to transitional year will be. You can request your first assignment to be as a flight surgeon after residency.
     
  12. West Side

    West Side 5+ Year Member

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    Jan 8, 2007
    Seems to me he wants to do his time and get out. So a first assignment after residency doesn't really scratch his itch.

    Again, logically I have to assume the military would welcome the switch with open arms. Just a matter of getting in touch with the right folks. But who are they?
     
  13. MDS

    MDS 2+ Year Member

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    Nov 9, 2006
    Exactly. Any ideas, flight surgeons?
     
  14. trixmd

    trixmd Member 10+ Year Member

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    Feb 26, 2005
    CONUS - thank goodness.
    Don't call the HPSP dude - he's there to snag medical students. Talk to a physician recruiter - I think there's a couple that lurk these boards.

    I worked with 2 flight docs who got sick of their respective residencies (general surgery and ED), who joined the Navy. One's putting in an ortho application, and the other one is a rads resident.

    You will need to finish some internship so you can sit for Step 3 and get fully licensed.
     
  15. MDS

    MDS 2+ Year Member

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    Nov 9, 2006
    Trix MD, thanks for your reply. I have heard though that you just have to finish your intern year along with Step 3 to be a flight surgeon. Is that not the case?
     
  16. Two Fingers

    Two Fingers New Member

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    Nov 22, 2005
    Yes, in addition to going to the aerospace medicine course. I suggest contacting the GME office
    http://airforcemedicine.afms.mil/idc/groups/public/documents/webcontent/knowledgejunction.hcst?functionalarea=AFPhysicianEducation&doctype=subpage&docname=CTB_047647

    Tell them what you want to do. If you can't change into a transitional year, you can always let them know you want to quit your residency during your PGY-1 year; at least then they'll have had fair warning. If you quit your residency, you are obligated to do a tour as a flight surgeon as long as you can pass the physical.

    I was a flight surgeon for 5 years. It's a pretty cool job if you get the right assignments. Now, I'm about to finish a civilian ortho residency and go back on active duty. I don't have any regrets about taking a "detour" to be a flight surgeon for a while.

    Good luck,

    Two Fingers
     
  17. MDS

    MDS 2+ Year Member

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    Nov 9, 2006

    Thanks for the contact info! I have a followup question if you dont mind. In the anticipation of all of this coming to fruition, I am wondering if you have any tips on getting good assignments. Is there any way to get a desirable location? Where did you go/How did you get there? How seriously do they take your location requests and does family matter in those requests?
     
  18. Two Fingers

    Two Fingers New Member

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    Nov 22, 2005
    I wanted to go to a fighter squadron, so I volunteered to go to Kunsan in South Korea. For me, it was an awesome assignment, but if you have a family it may not be as fun since it's an unaccompanied tour. When my 12 months were up they offered me 2 crappy assignments, so I offered to stay until something better came up. I went to Aviano in Italy after another 6 months or so at Kunsan. That was awesome as well.

    You'd have to call the flight surgeon assignment person to get the tips on getting good assignments (since that's the person who actually does the work), but they'd probably tell you that they consider your preferences but the needs of the AF come first.

    2
     
  19. MacGyver

    MacGyver Banned Banned

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    Aug 8, 2001
    So whats a flight surgeon? You telling me they operate on people on aircraft?

    Or is this yet another exmaple of hte military stealing the "surgeon" title for something that is not even remotely close to surgery?

    Whats the military's obsession with the "surgeon" title anyways? They seem to want to call everybody "surgeons."
     
  20. BomberDoc

    BomberDoc ex-BomberDoc 2+ Year Member

    Stop being such a douchebag and learn some history. I used to work with "real" surgeons and I am very glad to use the past tense with that job.

    The position was co-created by the United States Army and the Surgeon General (yes, I know what you are going to say about that) in the early 1900s, World War I era, underneath the US Army Air Corps. The term "flight surgeon" comes from the era in which all military physicians were referred to as surgeons. Very few flight surgeons are actual general or specialized surgeons -- most are primary care physicians.

    ... and you are still a microphallic surgeon type who probably got beat up on the schoolyard too much but were too smart to become a cop.
     

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