Morale: Fighter Pilots Who Practice Medicine


August 12, 2008:  The U.S. Air Force has a unique group of ten medical doctors, who are also military pilots (including fighters). These physicians spend part of their time flying, and part of their time practicing medicine (as flight surgeons, that is, specialists in medical problems related to flying). These flying doctors are often crucial when there is an accident to be investigated, or some new physical condition that is afflicting pilots. The edge the pilot/doctors have is that other pilots will not be as fearful that they will be grounded without reason. This is common with non-pilot doctors, who err on the side of caution. The pilot-MDs have better insights into the medical problems pilots encounter, and have been of great use not just for pilot morale, but for better, and quicker, understanding of flight medicine.

The pilot MDs were developed via a program that enabled academically qualified pilots go to medical school at air force expense.


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