Our Unique Medical Specialty
Aerospace Medicine is a unique and challenging specialty within Preventive Medicine. However, it also is a multidisciplinary specialty that draws from various other clinical specialties such as environmental medicine, internal medicine, neurology, ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology, pathology, and psychiatry to provide comprehensive medical services to aerospace personnel and their families. Additionally, Aerospace Medicine practitioners do not limit their practice solely to clinical medicine. A significant part of the practice is to enhance safety within the aerospace environment and industry. To accomplish this, practitioners must have a working knowledge of diverse non-clinical disciplines such as human factors, physiology, psychology, toxicology, aerospace engineering, and aeronautics.
Several civilian and military residency programs exist to train physicians in this specialty. Typically, postgraduate training following internship will last from two to three years. This includes one year for a required Master in Public Health (MPH) or Master of Science (MS) degree, plus one or two years of clinical and practical training. Specialists in Aerospace Medicine in the United States are certified by either the American Board of Preventive Medicine or the American Osteopathic Board of Preventive Medicine. It is not unusual for Aerospace Medicine specialists to be Board-certified in other clinical or surgical specialties.
Upon completion of training specialists in Aerospace Medicine may practice in a variety of different settings such as airlines, aircraft manufacturers, civilian Federal government agencies, military services, or universities. Clinical practice may vary from a traditional primary care setting to very unique occupational medicine in harsh environments with environmental hazards such as noise, heat, cold, low pressure, toxic chemicals, radiation, and vibration. Specific activities may include aircraft accident investigation, aeromedical certification, clinical care, consultation work, life systems design, occupational health, regulatory activities, and space medicine. As a subspecialty of Preventive Medicine, the primary focus of Aerospace Medicine is the enhancement and promotion of health and safety of those involved in aerospace activities.