Live Your Dreams Live Your Dreams Live Your Dreams Which mother couldn’t be proud of her Pilot & Physician son? As if completing the elite IAF Pilot Training Course isn’t enough, some people continue in the service for nine years and carry on to medical school

Itay Itamar

Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Yuval, Commander of the “In-flight Medical Unit”, wasn’t aware of the medical profession growing up. Going back to past generations, there were no doctors in his family, though he claims that the love for medicine isn’t genetic. “As long as the urge to help the needy and the sick burns within you, it’s a very difficult feeling to let go of”.

Nowadays, Dr. Yuval, an Attack Helicopter Pilot in the “Northern Cobra Squadron”, operates as a pediatrician following seven years of Medical studies and six years of internship at the IAF.

“Unfortunately the Medical field is so different than the Military field. The basic military point of view is all about figuring out diverse strategies and fight battle theories, to survive by any means necessary”.

In medicine, Yuval says there is no place for such thoughts. “Medicine doesn’t deal with who fights against whom. It deals only with taking care and assisting people desperate for help and saving human lives”.

Medicinal Trainees

During his fourth year in service, Yuval decided to study Medicine. The decision wasn’t an easy one, considering the long period of time it takes to become a doctor-12 years.

“It has to be just the right profession for you”, he says. “Not just because you feel like having a career that will only suit you in 12 years, but because you can’t imagine another profession fulfilling you as much as this one”.

Dr. Yuval made his choice and at age 26 found himself in medicine school alongside other officers that were freshly released from the IDF after a long service period.

But what will be the reaction of the pilots recruited after 2002 and signing on for nine more years? If anyone agrees to this course they should know that they will be 30 by the time they’re done with the first half of the whole process. Even if they complete both halves continuously, their career would only begin at 42.

“It’s an IAF saying that whoever begins his training to become a pilot at 18, can cross off the word ‘Doctor’ off his resume”, claims Yuval. “We can’t all make that decision at the age of 18. Many paths are barren for many people. We’re talking about destinies here, and these people who are training to become pilots, can not only be important to the IDF but to medicine and the Israeli society as well”.

As of today, there isn’t a clear solution for this issue, although Yuval is trying to come up with some creative ideas that might help: “The IAF needs to open different doors and possibilities for the soldiers who are interested in synchronizing the two careers. It might be relevant for only one person out of one of two courses. Maybe we can open a basic course at the “Pilot Training Course” that covers the first three years of Medical studies”.