Story by Sarah Marshall on 06/21/2017Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) alumnus Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Philip Flatau recently earned the prestigious Malcom C. Grow Air Force Level Flight Surgeon of the Year award for 2016, recognizing his outstanding achievements in providing exceptional aeromedical support.
The award is presented by the Society of United States Air Force Flight Surgeons (SoUSAFFS) to flight surgeons actively engaged in flying and special operations missions. Nominees must have demonstrated concern for flight personnel by developing rapport with flyers, and must have shown an ability to control aeromedical hazards faced by flyers, while also improving the medical service, health or safety of the aviators.
Flatau is currently serving as the Deputy Surgeon assigned to the Air Force's new 492nd Special Operations Wing, with operational duties located at Duke Field, Florida. He is responsible for medically preparing Combat Aviation Advisors for rapid global employment, allowing for successful Air Force Special Operation Command (AFSOC) aviation advising operations. He also provides comprehensive medical oversight, training, and hands-on care in support of worldwide Special Operations-focused global health engagements.
The flight surgeon began his military career in 2004 upon receiving his commission as an ROTC graduate at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif., with military studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. After graduating from Westmont with honors, he was accepted into USU's F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, where he graduated in 2008, again with honors, earning his Doctor of Medicine degree. He went on to complete his three-year residency in Family Medicine at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, where he served as Chief Resident, during which time he also completed USU's graduate Military Tropical Medicine Course in 2010. After completing his residency in 2011, Flatau went on to become the first flight surgeon assigned to the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where he served from 2011 to 2014.
Throughout his career, and especially since graduating from USU, Flatau said he has been afforded many unique opportunities, such as assisting in the development of the first-ever Nigerian-led casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) program. Facing scarce resources and many significant challenges across the Sahara, his team collaborated with Nigeria's armed forces to stand up the program that trained Nigerian students on real-world CASEVAC principles while providing basic, yet life-saving, care en route to higher-level medical care. This program, and the Special Operations Command Africa model that influenced it, he said, has become one template for the rapidly growing Global Health Engagement/International Health Specialist community.
He attributes his achievements to the military-specific holistic training he received at USU, which he also believes has prepared him to operate within an operational environment where thinking outside the box and communicating effectively, respectfully, and collaboratively is key. He added that he has been incredibly fortunate to work with such an incredible AFSOC team (to include medical planners, physician assistants, physicians and independent duty medical technicians) and credits his recent award to the hard work and dedication of this team who, he said, provide outstanding care in often extremely remote/austere locations.