Dec 29, 2013
9
3
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I am a new member so please forgive me if I have posted this in errant section but I hope this will be the most relevant in order to find help from someone with experience which I would greatly appreciate. So here is the quick rundown I have basically made up my mind to use HSPS to fund medical school not only because it is a great program but I also what to serve. I am a former college athlete so getting medically approved is not an issue. However I have several questions about the HSPS program and flight surgeons in general that I could use some help on as the recruiters are of no use (surprise surprise). Now for those questions...

1. If I use HSPS to pay for school immediately after graduation med. school can I use a tour as a flight surgeon to fulfill my time. I may very well extend my commitment but getting to fly would be amazing and has always been a lifelong dream albeit slightly behind being a doctor or I would have gone to flight school and been done.

2. If possible the ideal situation would be to graduate medical school and serve as a flight surgeon. Then either finish my commitment and go into residency training or extend my commitment depending on my experience. The problem however is I have very little interest in a career as a family practitioner and would very much like to specialize in residency after my time as a flight surgeon. Is this possible? Just a for instance could I finish my time as a flight surgeon and then go specialize in general surgery for residency after this time either military or civilian?

3. Last but not least I have read other posts on the duties of a flight surgeon but most if not all are outdated. What are the opportunities to truly fly. I don't expect to spend all four years flying sorties in combat but I don't want to be a glorified passenger on a cargo plane either. Several posts talk about the shrinking number of double cockpit planes in service, so what does a flight surgeon fly if stationed with a fighter squadron to fulfill his minimum flight time requirements? Like I said I don't expect to fly missions on a complete tour but going up in a jet is defiantly something I would enjoy greatly and may make a career out of if I can work it correctly.

4. I know on other forums the ability to fully dual train has been briefly discussed but like I said it seems in recent years this opportunity may be expanding if you pursue it hard enough perhaps? Does anyone have real information regarding competitiveness of such programs or general information at all? I can find next to nothing. In case it helps here is the article I'm referencing as to possibly expanding these dual programs that allow you to fly without restrictions...
http://airforcelive.dodlive.mil/2013/02/f-22-pilot-physician-takes-safety-to-new-heights/

Thanks in advance for any insight you can give it is greatly appreciated!!
 

alpinism

Give Em' the Jet Fuel
7+ Year Member
Nov 6, 2011
3,085
2,740
Detroit
How familiar are you with flight surgery? Have you shadowed a FS?

It sounds like you're only interested in the job because you want to fly.
 
OP
DE2MD
Dec 29, 2013
9
3
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
That is not completely untrue i am very interested in being both deployed and flying however I am not ruling out the option to go the direction of family practitioner or internal medicine if I can truly fly semi regularly. As I haven't started medical school yet my view and career choice may change. I'm just trying to find out all I can before my hands are tired and I'm on the bullet train known as med school without time to research my options. Haven't shadowed one as I don't have a base anywhere close I wish I did so I could ask someone personally these questions.
 

alpinism

Give Em' the Jet Fuel
7+ Year Member
Nov 6, 2011
3,085
2,740
Detroit
I would highly suggest shadowing before committing to the USAF, even if its a hassle.

Much of FS involves preventative medicine, i.e. doing physicals and paperwork for healthy pilots and flight crews. Its like being a family practitioner except you see even fewer sick patients.
 
OP
DE2MD
Dec 29, 2013
9
3
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
Yea I've shadowed family practitioners in civilian world and aside from what you mention and the slight focus on aerospace medicine I can't imagine it's to different. I mainly need info on the other couple questions as I can't find a flight surgeon to shadow and ask in person. If anyone had any info or knows a way to contact a flight surgeon willing to share advise I'd be extremely grateful
 
May 28, 2012
3,036
80
Status
Medical Student
Yea I've shadowed family practitioners in civilian world and aside from what you mention and the slight focus on aerospace medicine I can't imagine it's to different. I mainly need info on the other couple questions as I can't find a flight surgeon to shadow and ask in person. If anyone had any info or knows a way to contact a flight surgeon willing to share advise I'd be extremely grateful
If you talk with your AF recruiter they should be able to get you in contact with an AF doc you could shadow, although as mentioned before, it may be a bit of a hassle.
 
May 19, 2013
58
11
I can't speak much to the other services but if you really want to fly, go Navy. If you want to fly in general, why not go and get your civilian private pilot license or actually apply to a military aviation pipeline as a pilot?
 
Last edited:
OP
DE2MD
Dec 29, 2013
9
3
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
Not sure if I have been reading to many forums or what but I swear there was a long post about the work of a flight surgeon before? Was that you @upchit? I was on my phone and had a low battery so I didn't respond but I read it and it was helpful, sorry for the delay but I did appreciate your insight!

I will have to get in contact with the recruiter and see if they can give me a contact for more info I guess. I was just hoping I could find info on here if at all possible.

As to the going in as a pilot routem I have considered it and would rather be a doctor but only by a hair. I was just hoping to scratch the itch and do both at the same time if possible but leave it up to my type A personality to find two incompatible dreams I guess.
 

Kingfisher

Active contact
10+ Year Member
Apr 25, 2008
366
40
Haze Grey
Status
Attending Physician
Your opportunities to fly will vary depending on your service, location, and command. I have heard the Navy guys have more opportunities to fly. (Navy only) Usually after internship and FS training you will go on a utilization tour to a squadron or similar. There may be opportunities there to get behind the stick. Once you go back to residency and on to other things, your opportunities evaporate, unless you stick with primary care and select spots that will keep you close to the air side, such as carrier spots. Our SMO on a carrier was a long time FS and he was able to fly at least once a week when we were deployed.
 
May 19, 2013
58
11
Not sure if I have been reading to many forums or what but I swear there was a long post about the work of a flight surgeon before? Was that you @upchit? I was on my phone and had a low battery so I didn't respond but I read it and it was helpful, sorry for the delay but I did appreciate your insight!

I will have to get in contact with the recruiter and see if they can give me a contact for more info I guess. I was just hoping I could find info on here if at all possible.

As to the going in as a pilot routem I have considered it and would rather be a doctor but only by a hair. I was just hoping to scratch the itch and do both at the same time if possible but leave it up to my type A personality to find two incompatible dreams I guess.
Hi ebox,

Yes, I previously had a more verbose reply posted. Then, I decided my new years' resolution is to be more positive. And, in my experience med students don't really absorb the reality of the workload when we talk about it anyway. So, in keeping with my resolution, I made it short and sweet.
 
OP
DE2MD
Dec 29, 2013
9
3
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
Thank you very much kingfisher! Any chance you know if he was able to fly as primary or just went up as a co pilot and never actually took the stick? Do you know what they flew specifically?
I got ya upchit I just didn't want you to feel it was unappreciated is all as that wasn't the case. Also I understand you want to be positive but telling it how it is unbiased and true is always a major help and greatly appreciated at least by me! Thanks again
 

Kingfisher

Active contact
10+ Year Member
Apr 25, 2008
366
40
Haze Grey
Status
Attending Physician
He flew as copilot on lift off, then he would take over and fly around for a while to get his time in (to keep flight status), then pilot would take over for landing. Carrier ops needed experienced pilots for those two evolutions. He was a helo guy I believe.
 

zephyrhills123

10+ Year Member
Nov 9, 2006
77
11
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I'm a Naval flight surgeon attached to an air wing, so my experience will be much different than someone attached to a single squadron. I get the chance to fly in the F/A-18F, EA-18G, E-2C, MH-60R and MH-60S. For the jets, I will never be able to actually control the aircraft since there is no stick in the back seat, but I have been in the front for the E-2 and the H-60s. If you get assigned the FRS, then I think you can fly from the back seat of the growler or super hornet.

My flight doc friends who are either attached to a clinic or a single seat squadron usually make up their flight hours by being in the back of a cargo plane or helicopter. If you only want to be a flight doc so you can fly in the back of the jet, make sure you're willing to accept the high likelihood that you will not be assigned to a jet squadron who can fly you.

The vast majority of my job is spent doing administrative stuff (figuring out who is going to be able to deploy, meetings, logging in flight physicals for aircrew and submitting waivers) and a mostly monotonous clinic.

And again, my experience is only with the Navy... can't speak for the Air Force though I'm sure it's not much different.
 

USAF Flight Doc

Membership Revoked
Removed
Account on Hold
Feb 1, 2014
8
0
Status
Attending Physician
I am a new member so please forgive me if I have posted this in errant section but I hope this will be the most relevant in order to find help from someone with experience which I would greatly appreciate. So here is the quick rundown I have basically made up my mind to use HSPS to fund medical school not only because it is a great program but I also what to serve. I am a former college athlete so getting medically approved is not an issue. However I have several questions about the HSPS program and flight surgeons in general that I could use some help on as the recruiters are of no use (surprise surprise). Now for those questions...

1. If I use HSPS to pay for school immediately after graduation med. school can I use a tour as a flight surgeon to fulfill my time. I may very well extend my commitment but getting to fly would be amazing and has always been a lifelong dream albeit slightly behind being a doctor or I would have gone to flight school and been done.

2. If possible the ideal situation would be to graduate medical school and serve as a flight surgeon. Then either finish my commitment and go into residency training or extend my commitment depending on my experience. The problem however is I have very little interest in a career as a family practitioner and would very much like to specialize in residency after my time as a flight surgeon. Is this possible? Just a for instance could I finish my time as a flight surgeon and then go specialize in general surgery for residency after this time either military or civilian?

3. Last but not least I have read other posts on the duties of a flight surgeon but most if not all are outdated. What are the opportunities to truly fly. I don't expect to spend all four years flying sorties in combat but I don't want to be a glorified passenger on a cargo plane either. Several posts talk about the shrinking number of double cockpit planes in service, so what does a flight surgeon fly if stationed with a fighter squadron to fulfill his minimum flight time requirements? Like I said I don't expect to fly missions on a complete tour but going up in a jet is defiantly something I would enjoy greatly and may make a career out of if I can work it correctly.

4. I know on other forums the ability to fully dual train has been briefly discussed but like I said it seems in recent years this opportunity may be expanding if you pursue it hard enough perhaps? Does anyone have real information regarding competitiveness of such programs or general information at all? I can find next to nothing. In case it helps here is the article I'm referencing as to possibly expanding these dual programs that allow you to fly without restrictions...
http://airforcelive.dodlive.mil/2013/02/f-22-pilot-physician-takes-safety-to-new-heights/

Thanks in advance for any insight you can give it is greatly appreciated!!
If you end up doing the USAF or USN, I highly encourage you to check out aerospace medicine. The Army has some aviation medicine, but it is not nearly as robust as the former two. I'm a doctor and flight surgeon in the USAF. I've practiced medicine in almost 10 separate countries over the 3 years I've been doing the job. I fly in an F-16 at least monthly. I love my job.

Here is a website I have created promoting the academic discipline: www.goflightmedicine.com

If you have specific questions about flight medicine in the USAF, send me an email at the 'contact us' on my above website or you can also post the question on the forum I just added to my site: http://goflightmedicine.com/forums/military-aviation-medicine-flight-medicine/

Either way, good luck with your decision.