Do your homework for a great medical exam

February 13, 2008

Do your homework for a great medical exam

By AOPA ePublishing staff

When it comes to getting an aviation medical exam, a little research and preparation can ensure a positive experience—especially if you have a complex case that may require a special issuance.

All aviation medical examiners (AMEs) are licensed physicians designated by the FAA to conduct airman physicals, but most handle aviation exams part-time, sometimes seeing pilots only on specific days or after their regular office hours. Some AMEs perform a lot of FAA exams—more than 300 a year—and are more proficient at handling the system. And only a senior AME can issue a first class medical certificate.

AOPA’s online database can help you find an AME near you, but it’s also a good idea to call and ask a few questions before your first appointment with a new examiner. You might want to find out if the AME is a pilot and therefore understands the pilot’s perspective. You might also want to know how many FAA exams the doctor conducts each year, whether he is willing to call the FAA to avoid deferring a medical in questionable cases, and, if you are concerned about a specific medical condition, whether or not he has dealt with similar situations.

It’s also a good idea to ask about the AME at your local FBO or flight school. Have others used the doctor? How was their experience?

Getting your paperwork in order before you see the AME can also smooth the way to a good experience. Use AOPA’s TurboMedical planning tool to fill out the FAA’s medical application before you go. It will alert you to additional medical records you might need so you can arrive at the AME’s office prepared. Having your records in hand could make the difference between getting your medical issued on the spot and having to wait for a judgment from the FAA.

And, as always, if you have questions about the medical certification process, call AOPA’s medical certification specialists at 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672) for help. That call could be worth the price of your membership.

February 13, 2008