A recent change to the medical grounding policy has significantly changed the way students, the Wellness Center, and the Flight Department handle students who are too sick to fly. The new policy took effect on January 2nd with the issuance of FIF 12-011. It stated the changes to the Flight Operations Manual regarding the new medical grounding policy. As always, FIFs are available in ETA, the Flight Department web site, and are also updated in the Foreflight version of the Flight Operations Manual.
The policy was revised to streamline the whole process for both the students and the flight instructors. The first thing changed was to separate the medical grounding process from the no-show process. In the event of an illness that will prevent a student from being able to do an activity, the student must call the Flight Supervisor (x4316) AT LEAST 30 MINUTES prior to the start time. The student then is required to contact their flight instructor at least 30 minutes prior to the start time as well. Once the student has called the Flight Supervisor, the Flight Supervisor will cancel the activity as a “Student Medical” cancellation and ground the student for that day only. At midnight the student will automatically be ungrounded. The student will not be no-showed. If the student feels the illness will be long-term, or at least longer than that day, then the student will need to go to the Wellness Center to be medically grounded. Otherwise, the student should expect to be scheduled again the next available day as the student will not be grounded anymore.
Obviously there has to be some limitations to this policy. Similar to the old policy, students are allowed two medical cancellation incidents per semester, no questions asked. However, any medical cancellations beyond that will require a meeting with a Training Manager and proof of being seen by a medical professional. Without that documentation, cancellations beyond the first two will be changed to an unexcused no-show and the requisite penalties will apply per FOM 3.11.
As mentioned above, one of the reasons for the change was to try to make things a little easier for students. The hassle of dealing with no-shows, petitions, trips to the Wellness Center when you’re no longer sick, etc. are gone. If a student just feels poorly that day and is reasonably certain that they will feel better by the next day, then this makes missing flight activities a little less painful. The benefit to the Flight Department is similar in that we have less no-shows to keep track of, less petitions to review and mainly it gives us the ability to quickly gets students back on the schedule rather than waiting for a student to have to go out of their way and make the trip to the Wellness Center to get ungrounded every time.
What has not changed is a belief that students should not be flying when they are sick. We expect, as professionals, students will make the proper decision when necessary. However, our job at the Flight Department is to get our students through their flight courses as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Hopefully this new policy will be mutually beneficial to both students and instructors. As a final note this policy will not require that a student reveal private medical information.