Life as a Flight Surgeon & Intro to Our New Project

Session 36

Session 36

In today’s episode, Ryan talks with Allison, err… Allison talks with Ryan. Yep! She’s going to interview him today to talk about what life is like to be a flight surgeon, his path to aerospace medicine, .

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Ryan and Allison:

What is a flight surgeon?

No, a flight surgeon does not operate on a plane. A flight surgeon is a family practice doctor for a specific population of air force members such as pilots, loadmasters, flight engineers, missile operators, space operators, drone pilots, air traffic controllers, or anybody involved in the day-to-day operations in the air force.

Ryan is the medical standards expert and he makes sure they meet all those medical standards and are able to continue their job. He has an office (on the ground) though he is required to fly once a week in order to make sure his patient is safe doing what they do in the sky and to see what their stressors are day in and day out.

Flight Medicine Course

Allows you to learn how stressful it is to be in a cockpit and fly a plane and the amount of stimuli when you get over-saturated with the tasks to be done.

Ryan’s path to being a flight surgeon:

  • Wanting to be an orthopedic surgeon and going to medical school on the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) in the military
  • The military having control in his residency application
  • Applying to the military version of the match and cutting his postgrad education off and going through 1-year residency training to become a flight surgeon
  • Differences in civilian medicine vs. military medicine
  • Thinking about their conditions in terms of military service
  • No insurance difficulties (since everyone in the military is insured)

Some perks in the military:

  • Being called “sir’ all day long
  • Saluting officers in higher ranks
  • Respect and teamwork are very evident
  • Jumping in the plane as an aircrew member

Things Ryan love about being a flight surgeon:

  • Community involvement
  • Unique patient population (patients avoid him because they love to work and they desperately love to get better immediately)

The other thing Ryan and Allison talk about is The MSHQ Academy, a new project that was born from talking to you. Ryan and Allison talked to dozens of students and heard the same thing over and over. You want a community of members that you can trust. A community that won’t try to cut you down. A community that you can get motivation from.

Some pieces of advice for premed students:

Look into the military for a possible job or career to pay for medical school

Be flexible. Be willing to have a bit of adventure. Be willing to give up a little bit of control of your life.

Links and Other Resources:

The Academy


If you need any help with the medical school interview, go to Sign up and you will receive parts of the book so you can help shape the future of the book. This book will include over 500 questions that may be asked during interview day as well as real-life questions, answers, and feedback from all of the mock interviews Ryan has been doing with students.

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For more great content, check out for more of the shows produced by the Medical School Headquarters including the OldPremeds Podcast and watch out for more shows in the future!

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Email Ryan at [email protected] or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq

Tweet Allison @allison_mshq or send her an email at [email protected]

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