Who We Are
An Aviation Medical Examiner (AME), or a FAA AME is a physician that has been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct examinations for pilots or astronauts whom fly. These practitioners may also be called Flight Surgeons – though this is a more specialized title. All of these practitioners are educated in Aerospace Medicine.
Most pilots focus on the job of an AME to grant Medical Certificates, which have to be renewed; sometimes as often as every 6 months. At times, this relationship can feel adversarial to the pilot. The physician is viewed as a person whom may “take the pilot out of flying” and are thus avoided unless there is no other choice.
The AME’s job is actually much more significant than that. This is sometimes the only physical a pilot might get. A true AME is to practice Aerospace Medicine and help the pilot’s under his care stay as healthy as possible. It is our job as an AME to keep the pilots in the air.
At altitude, the body goes through physiologic changes and reacts to medicines differently. These providers are trained to help pilots with the different ways diseases and medication affect them. We work to keep our pilots sharp, on task, and highly functioning.
As a pilot gets older, and have more exposure to the rigors of flying, subtle changes occur. That is why it is best for pilots to work in a longitudinal matter with their AME or Flight Surgeon. An AME should work to prevent disease and help mitigate the complications and changes to the body that come from flying. There are psychological, physical, occupational, and environmental stressors that are unique to this group of people. As an AME, we must prevent these exposure from becoming complications to a pilot’s health.
AME’s also need to keep up with their training. Medicine is a constantly changing milieu of information. The specialty of Aerospace Medicine is very young, and there are new discoveries and elucidations almost monthly now. These new findings must be incorporated into the AME’s repertoire of medical information for proper assessment and treatment of the pilot.
It is an Aviation Medical Examiner’s job to prevent diseases and complications from flying. An AME should use their medical knowledge and acumen to keep their pilots sharp and healthy, so they can continue to fly. Be it in the atmosphere or space.