Aviation Medicine

Air ambulance paramedics transferring a patient to a land ambulance

Fellowship Program Director

Dr. Vincent Poirier (vincent.poirier [at] mcgill.ca)

Type of Fellowship

One-year clinical fellowship program.


Aviation Medicine is one of the most rapidly expanding and exciting spheres of clinical practice in the world today. As global travel becomes increasingly accessible and popular, there is a growing demand for the repatriation of the ill and injured. There is also a demand for Aviation medical consultants for airlines, international organizations, research institutions, hospitals and government.

Health professionals can play an important role by engaging in air ambulance operations and can find themselves in very different areas of activity; from long-range transport from a remote country of critically-ill patients to local search and rescue services. The competencies required both clinical and operational for this area of practice are multi-faceted and demanding. They can also be an important resource for airlines when passenger medical clearance is required, when a passenger becomes ill onboard or when consultation is needed for in-flight crew health problems.

Aeronautics is another field to which health professionals can bring an important expertise. They will advise on passenger safety onboard aircraft or during the test trial phase. They will work with aeronautic engineers on air circulation, seat design for comfort and cabin design to prevent long-haul flight-related health problems. They will analyze the ergonomic of the cockpit, galley and cabin and give their recommendations.

The McGill Aviation Medicine fellowship is divided into several courses, attended in Montreal and outside the province. The fellowship covers different aspects of Aviation Medicine including:

  • In-flight environment
  • Repatriation and Medevacs
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Civil Aviation Medicine (PGCertCAvMed)
  • Human factors in accident investigation
  • Human factors in cabin safety
  • Hypo and Hyper-baric Medicine
  • Commercial aviation

The fellowship candidate must be entering the R3 residency level or higher. The resident will learn the core knowledge and technical skills on the ground and in the air!

Fellow Characteristics/Requirements

Preference is given to individuals trained in emergency medicine or who show an interest in aviation medicine. Physicians trained in other areas of primary care or trained in emergency medicine PGY 1-5 formats without an additional year of practice can also apply for the fellowship.

  1. Graduated from an approved Canadian Emergency Medicine residency (FRCPC certified).
  2. Prior to entry in the fellowship, the prospective fellow will likely have limited exposure to aviation medicine and the aviation milieu. Experience in flying, medevacs, diving and hyperbaric medicine, and knowledge about aviation medicine and hyperbaric medicine is not a prerequisite for acceptance into the fellowship. The prospective fellow may have prior experience in performing at least one resident or student research project but will unlikely have more than the basic knowledge of research design and study completion.
  3. The applicant can do a maximum of 6 months in non-accredited sites during their entire residency training in Quebec. Since this fellowship consists of 5 months in non-accredited sites outside Quebec, if the applicants have done more than 2 non-accredited rotations, they will not be eligible for this fellowship.
  4. Candidates who complete the Fellowship in Aviation Medicine will get a “Diploma of Aviation Medicine” (DAvMed).

Program Curriculum Goals

At the completion of the fellowship, the aviation medicine fellow will:

  1. Develop the knowledge base and clinical skills necessary to: a. Evaluate and recommend which patients need aeromedical evacuation (fixed wings vs. commercial vs. helicopter) b. Manage patients during flight c. Evaluate and treat hypobaric related illnesses
  2. Discuss medical contraindications for boarding an aircraft
  3. Discuss areas of future research
  4. Develop requisite academic skills to be an effective researcher and teacher in aviation and hyperbaric medicine
  5. Discuss investigational indications for the use of Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  6. Evaluate and treat diving-related illnesses
  7. Discuss human, environmental, and material factors which directly or indirectly contribute to aircraft mishaps
  8. Identify the human error issues involved in aircraft accidents
  9. Discuss the unique requirements for interviewing survivors and completely documenting the cabin for deficiencies and injuries sustained during the aircraft accident

Rotation Details & Evaluation Procedures

PDF icon Aviation Medicine Fellowship - Program Details

Application Process

Please send your CV and a cover letter indicating your interest in the fellowship program by email to vincent.poirier [at] mcgill.ca

At least two letters of recommendation are required prior to the interview. Interviews are generally conducted in the fall and early winter but can be arranged at any time.


The Faculty and the Collège des médecins du Québec define a Fellow as a medical doctor enrolled in a residency program, but paid by sources other than the Régie de l'assurance-maladie du Québec (Medicare). Acceptable scholarships can be granted by a government, a scientific or international organization, a university or the Faculty of Medicine. The resident must secure funding or a scholarship of 50 000$ to enroll in the fellowship, since no dedicated grant is available on a yearly basis. Unfortunately, due to the McGill University policy on self-financed medical education, applicants without scholarship support will be refused. This scholarship will cover the resident’s salary. However, Quebec might fund the fellowship for resident approved for an année complémentaire.


All costs for the required courses, travel & lodging, license fees, visa fees (if applicable) will be paid by the sponsor/resident. McGill University will not pay for any costs related to the Aviation Medicine fellowship.

Core Faculty

Fellowship Director: Vincent Poirier, MD.CM, FRCPC, FACEP, DAvMed (vincent.poirier [at] mcgill.ca)

Associate Fellowship Director: Anna Carvalho, MD, FRCPC, DAvMed (anna.carvalho [at] ubc.ca)

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