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New to the community; Need advice...


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Hey everyone,

 

My name is Jonathan and I currently work as a physician here in Las Vegas, NV. Tomorrow I'm planning on visiting a flight school because I'm considering changing jobs. I was thinking of going through the training and working on medi-flights. Currently I make about $70,000.00 a year and like my job, but I'm really wanting to fly helicopters. I'm 27 married with a newborn. Think this is a smart carrer move?

 

Thanks,

 

Jonathan

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Easy, keep your day job and fly on the weekends. You should be able to afford flying lessons. You are just starting out as a Dr. and your salary can only go up from there! After you shell out $70,000 for training and you starve for about 8-10 years building hours you might be back to that $70,000 a year salary. Of course you will have moved 27 times and been divorced by then also. If you really get the bug, see if your local area has a search and resue helicopter (Las Vegas Metro has a huey). Then you can volunteer to be a flight Dr. and get all the flight time you want. Just my to cents and it would be an easy decision for me.

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Wise words from Eagle1.

 

Also, pilots (who are unable to fly for whatever reason) who wish to be pilots will always watch helicopters as they fly over and wish they were up there. As a doctor you may watch doctors in the ER with the same desire to change positions as you drop off another patient as an EMS pilot. Find what your career passion is and do that. That way you'll only be looking at yourself and be content with what you are currently doing.

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Here is one other consideration.

 

Generally speaking (I have no direct knowledge, I'm just repeating what I've heard) HEMS operators prefer that their pilots have no medical training. The rationale is that you can't serve two masters. As a pilot, you have to consider the safety of the crew above all else. If you accept a mission in marginal weather based on how seriously the patient is injured or if you rush the takeoff because you know that every second counts, you could all die. There is an ongoing debate among HEMS pilots about the need to consider patients as nothing more than cargo who are probably going to die anyway. This disconnect of compassion allows the pilot to do his/her job deliberately and safely. As a doctor, you may have a hard time doing this.

 

If I were you...

 

I would buy an R-22 and get instruction in it all the way through CFI. Then I would work as a CFI on the weekends until I had built up the magic 1000 hrs. After that, I would go fly in the canyon for a year or two and then on to something else. If you decide that you don't want to make a complete career change, you could always continue working as a flight instructor or just fly for pleasure. You might also have some doctor friends who would go in with you on a new R-44!

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Generally speaking (I have no direct knowledge, I'm just repeating what I've heard) HEMS operators prefer that their pilots have no medical training. The rationale is that you can't serve two masters. As a pilot, you have to consider the safety of the crew above all else. If you accept a mission in marginal weather based on how seriously the patient is injured or if you rush the takeoff because you know that every second counts, you could all die. There is an ongoing debate among HEMS pilots about the need to consider patients as nothing more than cargo who are probably going to die anyway. This disconnect of compassion allows the pilot to do his/her job deliberately and safely. As a doctor, you may have a hard time doing this.

Years ago when I asked operators about their feelings about their pilots having medical training/experience it was as you say. They felt they wanted pilots focusing on the front office, not goings-on in the back. So they viewed the medical experience as a disadvantage. That seems to have changed, at least at some operators, who recognize that it can be valuable to have a pilot who is more integrated in the TEAM, and can better assist with patient handling on the ground (not pulling out IVs & ET airways, being able to ventilate momentarily, patient packaging, etc.). I know one HEMS pilot that is also an anesthesiologist - he said he has no difficulty seperating, and is glad to let the med crew do their own work.

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Our company suffered a crash a few years ago.....the pilot was also an RN and frequently worked as a flight nurse on the same aircraft. After examining all the facts, they concluded that his mind was definitely somewhere else at the time of the crash. Whether or not the nurse thing came into play, they don't have dual positions anymore and discourage the hiring of pilots with any medical training.

 

I've heard my med crew talk about a pilot at my base (long before I got here) that was also a chiropractor. Anytime they picked up a patient with a spinal injury, he started jumping into their conversations on what nerves are pinched and such. Needless to say, the crew didn't like it and would politely tell him to "shut up and fly."

 

Of course, on the other side of the coin, I don't appreciate a nurse or medic that has 40-50 hrs of flight time questioning everything I do--after the flight is over, we can talk about it.....

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