seabassnd

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I'll be starting med school in Chicago in the fall and am about to complete the Navy HPSP paperwork. I love airplanes and medicine, so flight surgery seemed to be the best way to combine both of them, and the experience even sounds fun to me after reading about it. From posts here though, everybody sees GMO/Flight Surgeon tours as the forced backup plan that happens if you don't get matched to a residency. So I'm just wondering: is it stupid to actually go into the process with flight surgeon as the goal?
 

Founder

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Not if that is what you want, why would it be stupid?

But from what I understand unless you go and do a residency after like two tours as a flight surgeon you'd be stuck doing administration.
 

trail doc

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is it stupid to actually go into the process with flight surgeon as the goal?

I know a number of people who have done just that. Some saw it as the first exit off active duty, others wanted to work with the aviation community. If that is your goal, you are far better equipted to deal with the realities of the military than many others. However, be open to other alternatives if what you want doesn't work out. Look at it this way: at the end of your career you can say you were a traditional physician for 30 years, or you did something few people get to, and you then became a traditional physician for 25 years.
Your problem may be the "GMO conversion". The billets now filled by internship trained physicians are slated to be picked up by residency trained physicians, probably by the time you're done with internship. If you want to do primary care, this won't be a problem, if you want to be a specialist, it can be.
I signed up for the Navy eight years ago with the same attitude that all med students do.... wanting nothing other than straight through. That wasn't an option for the residency I wanted, and I took the best alternative being flight med. In the end things worked out well. You don't have to look too far on this board to find people that is not the case for.
 

sethco

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Be advised...

As stated above, with the Navy goal of converting GMO billets to BC/BE billets, you may find it harder to get into Flight Medicine in the Navy right out of PGY-1 year.

In the AF, this process is considered Non-Selective (i.e. As long as you medically qualify and pass your Step III/PGY-1 year, you will become a Flight Surgeon)

BTW, for me it was forced. However, I am very happy that it worked out this way
 

BomberDoc

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BTW, for me it was forced. However, I am very happy that it worked out this way
Ditto. I'm happy about it because it allowed me to exit active duty as quickly as possible in order to pursue civilian residency. Yes, I got to do some interesting s#it that most docs don't, but at the end of the day I'm still 4 years behind my peers in terms of education, knowledge, experience, and reimbursement. I conservatively figure that my 4 year GMO tour cost me at least $2M in earnings and investments. Yeah, flying airplanes and dropping bombs is cool, but is it two million dollars worth of cool? The answer to that is a resounding NO.
 

NavyFP

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I'll be starting med school in Chicago in the fall and am about to complete the Navy HPSP paperwork. I love airplanes and medicine, so flight surgery seemed to be the best way to combine both of them, and the experience even sounds fun to me after reading about it. From posts here though, everybody sees GMO/Flight Surgeon tours as the forced backup plan that happens if you don't get matched to a residency. So I'm just wondering: is it stupid to actually go into the process with flight surgeon as the goal?
You can certainly become a flight surgeon after your intern year if that is what you want (and you physically qualify). You will eventually need to do a residency, but you could do Aerospace medicine and remain in the flight community. To be promoted to Commander, you have to be in or completed a residency. Despite the conversion, for those who want them, GMO/FS/UMO opportunities will continue to be there.
 

orbitsurgMD

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I'll be starting med school in Chicago in the fall and am about to complete the Navy HPSP paperwork. I love airplanes and medicine, so flight surgery seemed to be the best way to combine both of them, and the experience even sounds fun to me after reading about it. From posts here though, everybody sees GMO/Flight Surgeon tours as the forced backup plan that happens if you don't get matched to a residency. So I'm just wondering: is it stupid to actually go into the process with flight surgeon as the goal?
Flight surgeons really don't do all that much flying. Even with a training command billet--and there aren't many of those--your hours won't be all that great. The required number is 4 hours per month. Most of your work is on the ground in the branch clinic or in squadron spaces. You will do lots of sick call, physical exams and waiver packages. Occasionally you will have ED duties, depending on where you are located. If you are lucky, you won't have to do mishap investigations.

Time as a FS/GMO in the Navy is a common pathway for doctors looking for competitive specialties, you might end up there whether or not that is your final objective. I understand that senior flight surgeons will soon be required to obtain board certification in another clinical field before becoming RAM candidates--which itself is a two-year residency (PGY2-3) in occupational medicine the first year of which is spent in a university MPH program.
 

Handsome1

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I've read about this for quite some time now. What exactly does the RAM trained doctor do that is different then the regular FS? What is the day to day? Other then working for NASA what do you do with a RAM when you split from the military?
 

orbitsurgMD

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I've read about this for quite some time now. What exactly does the RAM trained doctor do that is different then the regular FS? What is the day to day? Other then working for NASA what do you do with a RAM when you split from the military?
Can't answer those questions except to say that most RAM flight surgeons take senior medical officer billets aboard carriers as an operational utilization tour, some work in flightline clinics in an administrative and supervisory capacity and others seem to rotate around a group of BUMED jobs in Washington which is mostly advisory/policy- (I'm being kind, here)-focused activity.

I think the requirement to get a board certification outside of the occupational medicine board arose from the fact that RAMs were not seriously considered for promotion above O-6 due largely to their lack of credibility inside the core Naval medical establishment, particularly within the major medical centers, the place from which most medical officers promoted to flag rank come. Moreover, it was not unusual to find a junior flight surgeon that had been board-certified in a core medical specialty, FP, IM or EM, with significantly greater professional standing and medical expertise than the SMO "supervising" them. My own flight surgery class had at least two board-certified family practitioners, one emergency medicine specialist and a neurologist, all doing flight surgery for a career change.
 

BOHICA-FIGMO

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If someone already has an MPH from a place like USUHS, can you do a RAM and take the Aero/Occ. Med boards in just one year? How far out from your primary residency do you have to be for this to happen? For example, could I do say 3 yr. FM and then go straight to RAM and get double (triple?) boarded in four years?
 

NavyFP

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If someone already has an MPH from a place like USUHS, can you do a RAM and take the Aero/Occ. Med boards in just one year? How far out from your primary residency do you have to be for this to happen? For example, could I do say 3 yr. FM and then go straight to RAM and get double (triple?) boarded in four years?
If you already have an MPH, I believe you can do it in one year.
 

trail doc

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If someone already has an MPH from a place like USUHS, can you do a RAM and take the Aero/Occ. Med boards in just one year? How far out from your primary residency do you have to be for this to happen? For example, could I do say 3 yr. FM and then go straight to RAM and get double (triple?) boarded in four years?
However, you'll need to do a primary residency first (as previously discussed) and that community generally expects your service for a length of time equal to the residency. After that "payback" you'd be able to apply for RAM in one year. I think they do the MPH first, so you'd probably have to apply a year in advance, otherwise there would not be space in the second year class.