In the 1970s, the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) developed a program in conjunction with a federal agency to study the prevalence and treatment of airline pilots struggling with alcoholism. The program was termed Human Intervention Motivation Study (HIMS).
A pilot-specific model was developed, which focused on peer and self-referral, for treatment of alcohol and substance use disorders among pilots. Due to the complex interrelationship between strict flight standards and the medical evaluation process, it was determined that the relationship between the pilot, the FAA, and airline was essential in working together to coordinate the evaluation and care of the impaired pilot.
Today, aviation medical examiners and the FAA directly refer pilots for psychiatric evaluation for a variety of issues – including alcohol and substance use, and for the presence of psychiatric illness. Even prior treatment with a psychiatric medication or therapy can lead to the request for a HIMS type evaluation in order to ensure the pilot is fit to fly.
This collaboration between the FAA and HIMS is two-fold: adhering to regulatory standards while advocating for pilots’ well-being. Through this synergy, HIMS ensures a secure and supportive milieu for pilots undergoing evaluation and treatment.
Confidentiality, a cornerstone of the aviation industry, is upheld with utmost diligence in HIMS evaluations. The assessment and treatment processes are conducted with the highest regard for privacy, fostering an environment where pilots can seek help without apprehension of judgment or repercussions. Embracing a broader vision, HIMS contributes significantly to pilot careers and aviation safety. By identifying potential concerns proactively, HIMS nurtures a culture of safety within the aviation domain. With unwavering focus on positive treatment outcomes and pilot well-being, HIMS not only safeguards careers but also underscores the safety of pilots, passengers, and the general public.
HIMS stands as a beacon of support, offering tailored evaluations, early interventions, and personalized treatment plans for pilots. Its collaborative approach with aviation authorities and unswerving commitment to confidentiality and safety make it a pivotal force in elevating pilot well-being and enhancing aviation industry standards.
Dr. Edward Zawadzki is a board certified psychiatrist with specialized training in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating pilots. He has completed the FAA-approved HIMS training program, and is familiar with FAA requirements as they relate to eligibility for obtaining a medical certificate.
Since it’s inception, the HIMS program has successfully helped over 4,500 pilots return to the cockpit. Feel free to contact our office if you have been asked to obtain either a HIMS or FAA-specific psychiatric evaluation.
For more information about the HIMS program, visit http://himsprogram.com