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What Does an Aviation Medical Examiner Do?

An Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) plays a crucial role in aviation safety. They conduct medical examinations to ensure pilots and air traffic controllers meet the health standards set by the Federal Aviation Administration. But what exactly are these health standards and why are they so important?
Amanda R. Bell
Amanda R. Bell

An aviation medical examiner performs physicals on potential or current air traffic controllers and pilots to aid in determining whether they are fit to perform the duties required of them. The physical includes obtaining a detailed medical history and determining if the patient has any health issues that may impede his or her job performance or put others at risk. The aviation medical examiner then submits this information, along with a recommendation, to the medical certificate board. A person may perform these duties as a part of his or her regular practice, or work for an airline, airport, or pilot training program in conjunction with his or her regular clinical practice.

The first part of a medical examiner’s job is to obtain a full medical history from the patient. This includes requesting a history from the patient’s primary care physician and questioning the patient during the examination. Necessary information typically includes a family history of genetic health issues, heart issues, and other medical concerns that may have been passed on to the patient. An aviation medical examiner will also have to obtain information from the patient on his or her own past health issues, his or her current state of health, and information on current medications.

Aviation medical examiners perform physicals to see that air traffic controllers and pilots are fit enough to perform their duties.
Aviation medical examiners perform physicals to see that air traffic controllers and pilots are fit enough to perform their duties.

A physical examination of the patient is also a part of being an aviation medical examiner. During this portion of the job, the doctor will test the patient’s range of motion, listen to his or her heart, and check reflexes. A detailed vision test, which checks the patient’s eyesight and peripheral vision, is also performed.

Once all of the necessary information is gathered, the aviation medical examiner then organizes the information according to the issuing agency’s guidelines and submits it on behalf of the patient to the agency. Based on the aviation medical examiner’s training, the doctor will typically include information on whether the patient meets all of the requirements for the class of medical certificate that he or she is requesting. In many cases, the examiner will also provide a copy of his or her report to the patient.

An aviation medical exam will include a test of one's reflexes.
An aviation medical exam will include a test of one's reflexes.

In most countries, an aviation medical examiner is required to maintain a clinical medicine practice while performing examinations for pilots and air traffic controllers. The majority of aviation medical examiners maintains a regular practice or work for a practice, and provides services to local people wishing to obtain a medical certificate. In some cases, an aviation medical examiner will obtain a contract with an airline or pilot training school and provide medical examinations specifically for those working for the airline or school, or for potential pilots.

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    • Aviation medical examiners perform physicals to see that air traffic controllers and pilots are fit enough to perform their duties.
      By: forestpath
      Aviation medical examiners perform physicals to see that air traffic controllers and pilots are fit enough to perform their duties.
    • An aviation medical exam will include a test of one's reflexes.
      By: Protosom
      An aviation medical exam will include a test of one's reflexes.