Videos: Today's Military
    Air Force Reserve

    Maintaining High Health Standards(01:37)

    Maj. Patrick Hsieh, an Air Force Reserve flight surgeon, describes the special circumstances of keeping service members healthy, no matter where they are. A flight surgeon delivers preventive care and medical care for those who may have become ill or injured.

    To learn more about serving as a physician in the Military, visit Medicine + the Military.

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Maj. Patrick Hsieh: My name is Patrick Hsieh, and I'm a major in the United States Air Force Reserve. I'm currently a flight surgeon and the chief of aerospace medicine. Probably the most important function that we perform is the maintenance of military medical standards, that is, ensuring that our Airmen are safely able to deploy to austere environments and perform their duties under hostile conditions without undue risk to their health and their safety. Another important aspect of that is, if our members are no longer able to meet standards because of injuries or conditions they've incurred in the line of duty, that those members are appropriately evaluated, compensated and receive ongoing medical care.

Most physicians take care of patients with abnormal physiology in a normal environment — normal gravity and normal oxygenation. Whereas we take care of primarily patients that are healthy, so normal physiology, but in a very abnormal environment that's stressful both physically and cognitively. I think that my military experience has given me a heightened awareness of occupational exposures and their impacts on health. Additionally, when I treat military members in the civilian emergency department, I'm better able to counsel them. As a member of the Air Force Reserve, we have a number of benefits available to us, but for me personally, the most important benefit has been the opportunity to stay involved with an organization that is performing really world-leading medical research. That's something that's unmatched anywhere else in the world.

The time I spent deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan made me realize what an honor it is to care for the men and women that every day are putting their lives on the line to defend our national interests and our freedoms. Additionally, I've always had a love of aircraft and flying. I'm an instrument-rated private pilot myself, and the opportunity to fly in high-performance military jet aircraft was just too good to pass up.