Selecting a HIMS AME for your FAA medical certification can be a daunting process. What is a HIMS AME? What does a HIMS AME do? A HIMS AME is a senior Aviation Medical Examiner which has undergone the necessary training in the “HIMS” program in order to monitor airmen for certain medical conditions. “HIMS” stands for “Human Intervention Motivational Study” and is a substance use recovery program that has received grants from the Federal Aviation Administration “FAA” to develop aeromedical programs for airman medical certification and special issuance authorization. As with many elements of airman medical certification, the HIMS program comes with issues and may not be an appropriate pathway to medical certification for all airmen (especially if the airman has erroneously been identified as having a disqualifying medical condition). Identifying concerns with the HIMS program is not the purpose of this article (these issues will be identified in subsequent writings). Be that as it may, there are times when engagement with a HIMS AME may be the most efficient and legitimate pathway to medical certification. A HIMS AME may be needed for many different issues, including SSRI medication use, substance abuse/dependence, HIV, and others.
What should you look for in selecting a HIMS AME? In the event you have a legitimate need for a HIMS AME, one of the most important things to look for is how many HIMS cases the AME has actually handled. Consider that an AME can undergo training to become a HIMS AME, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is well-versed in the FAA procedures, best practices to efficiently obtain medical certification, and cost-efficient ways to perform monitoring and other necessary tasks. So, experience matters.
Another element to evaluate is how the HIMS AME will monitor your case. What methods will the HIMS AME use to establish abstinence in substance use cases? What are the HIMS AME’s practices when there is a concern for a false-positive result on a drug or alcohol test? Also, establishing with the HIMS AME what his or her practice is to communicate and present your case to the FAA is important, too.
Don’t forget that you have to feel comfortable working with the HIMS AME, as you will be spending a lot of time with this individual – make sure your personalities don’t clash!
Selecting a HIMS AME is a matter of knowing what you are getting into before it’s too late. Remember, however, that contrary to a popular misconception, while your HIMS AME can be helpful in your case, the HIMS AME, per FAA guidance, is not your advocate. The HIMS AME is your monitor. Oftentimes having an aviation attorney who regularly helps with medical certification issues can be a valuable asset in working your case through the HIMS program and looking out for your interests in the process. Learn more about what an aviation attorney can do to help you with the HIMS program: FAA Medical – The Pilot Lawyer If you need help selecting a HIMS AME, call an aviation attorney at The Ison Law Firm to discuss your case today.
You can find the HIMS AME locator offered by the FAA, here: https://www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator/
*The opinions expressed in this article regarding the HIMS program are opinions. This article is not intended to provide medical or legal advice and should not be treated as such.