A flight physician is essentially a physician/doctor who has trained as either a D.O. or M.D and operates on board an aircraft providing aero medical care to patients who are suffering from a trauma, illness or life threatening emergency.
Flight physicians are responsible for facilitating proper patient care, assessing their medical condition, administering medications, performing necessary surgery and providing their patients with a comfortable experience while ultimately insuring their safety as they are being transferred to the hospital.
In addition to performing many of the same duties a flight nurse performs the advanced training and education flight physicians receive allow them to confidently and competently provide their patients medical and surgical expertise if the need arises while they are in flight.
Not only is their expertise useful while on board the aircraft but their knowledge and ability to assess their patients condition can be effectively communicated to other doctors and/or surgeons once the patient arrives at the health care facility so that they may receive the proper care needed to treat their ailments.
Before operating as a flight physician these physicians spent countless hours educating themselves in their profession and have achieved the highest level of education in their field, and spent years working in critical care facilities performing surgery on patients who are in need of emergency care.
Flight physicians have a deep knowledge and understanding of medicine, physiology, anatomy and underlying diseases, and are able to assess their patients condition and provide them with the proper care and treatment they need to stabilize their condition and hopefully aid in the recovery of their current ailment.
These physicians may operate on a variety of fixed wing aircraft such as jet airplanes which is designed to transfer patients from one hospital or medical health care facility to another or operate on propeller aircraft such as helicopters which are able to land in a variety of environments such as at the scene of a car accident, near mountainous terrain or in locations where weather makes ground travel difficult.
In the military flight physicians are often refered to as flight surgeons which are assigned specific duties in the clinical field and operate as medical officers where they evaluate and treat military personnel on board various military aircraft.
In addition to treating military personnel who suffer from an injury or illness flight surgeons may also perform routine medical examinations to ensure that their patients are in good health and able to perform the job functions appropriately.