Most pilots have experienced the anxiety and trepidation felt when going to any doctor. This feeling is even more intense when visiting the flight doc for medical clearance. This is why it is so critical for airmen to find a trustworthy Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).
The best AME’s juggle a concern for the pilot’s health and the implication of their medical conditions on flight safety while also being sensitive to the pilot’s career. The best AME’s will remain up to date on the ever-evolving FAA guidance and be willing to advocate for their patient when needed.
But how does a new pilot find a good AME?
A 3 STEP APPROACH TO FINDING A GOOD AME
1. Determine the type of flight doctor you need. If non-military and in the United States, you will need to see an FAA appointed Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). But not all AME’s are created equal. Not all AME’s can issue the same medical certificates.
- AME – can issue Class 2 or Class 3 certificates.
- Senior AME – can issue Class 1, Class 2 & Class 3 certificates
- AME-Employee Examiner (EE) – can issue certificates to Air Traffic Controllers
- Human Intervention Motivation Study (HIMS) AME – in addition to issuing medical certificates, can perform HIMS exams to evaluate airmen with psychiatric or substance abuse issues
[More info on types of FAA medical certificates HERE]
2. Use the FAA search directory to find an AME in your area. You can filter by the various types of AME’s described above. This will generate a list of AME’s and their contact information.
3. Use Google or your preferred search engine to review different AME’s. Review their websites if they have one. You can also call their clinic or the AME themselves to inquire about their availability and philosophy of aviation medicine. Lastly, inquire among other pilots or read online reviews of the various AME’s before choosing.