Welcome to Aviation Psychiatry!
Dr. Gregory Kirk owns and operates the aviation specialty clinic, Aviation Psychiatry, LLC.
Dr. Kirk is a HIMS psychiatrist in Denver and is Board-Certified by the American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry in Adult Psychiatry and Addiction Psychiatry.
All photos on the site are original works by Dr. Kirk. Enjoy!
Dr. Kirk's professional-pilot clients span the country from coast to coast and fly for every legacy carrier and most western regional carriers. Dr. Kirk also works with General Aviation pilots, student pilots, pilots in training, and Air Traffic Control applicants. Away from aviation, Dr. Kirk is a referral clinical for the NBA, a treating clinician in the NFL Program for Substances of Abuse, a 5280 Magazine "Top Doc" in Addiction Psychiatry, and is recognized as an expert in suicide and unintentional death from substance abuse, mental illness, and behavioral disorders.
What is Aviation Psychiatry?
Commercial airline pilots have demanding careers. Junior pilots accumulate student debt and then begin physically and financially demanding work. Military pilots leave a long, structured career and join large corporations with a new hierarchy. Women pilots join a culture historically controlled by men. Aviators with children, whether men or women, must adapt to raising kids with demands most other professionals just cannot understand. Other issues, like regular sleep disruptions, being away from family and friends, fiscal pressures at your company, and the cyclical nature of the industry, are all issues that cause stresses unique to the industry.
Aviation psychiatry is not a formal subspecialty of psychiatry. It is a subset of general and addiction psychiatry that is practiced by a physician familiar with the career of a pilot and knowledgeable of the interface between pilot health, company policies, aerospace safety, and federal regulation.
HIMS stands for Human Intervention Motivation Study and formed in a partnership with ALPA (the Airline Pilots Association) and the FAA in the 1970s. The goal of the original study was to collect data in a program that allowed pilots with alcohol problems to get help and with the possibility (but not guarantee) of preserving a career if conforming to program guidelines. Congressional authorization and appropriation allow the FAA to gather data about the program and offer a partnership between the pilot, the company, the union, and the FAA to identify what a commercial pilot should do to return to cockpit after getting treatment for an alcohol problem.
The FAA does not administer the HIMS program. Each airline operating a HIMS program designs to their need but there is collaboration in the industry. HIMS programs, individually administered at the airlines, contain similar elements in promoting an effective recovery process for the pilot. On the other hand, not every airline has a designated HIMS program, but even in those cases, an individual program can be designed. It just takes some extra work.