Corresponding Author Information: Ray King

Session Abstract: Medically screening personnel for high-risk occupations is a relatively straightforward endeavor. The true challenges start when a job applicant, having received a tentative job offer, is identified as having a potentially medically disqualifying condition. In the case of a psychiatric condition, a prescribed psychological assessment process can help determine the proper disposition for the job applicant. Very often, however, the applicant does not live close to the centralized medical authority and in any case, the centralized authority may not be able to assess applicants face to face. Therefore, psychologists in local communities must be relied upon. The problem of equal risk for applicants must be assured, despite the reliance on multiple assessors. One way to increase fairness is to have review professionals receive the reports and the raw data that informed their recommendation (of medically qualified or disqualified).

Method: Four Hundred and Fifty Four (454) Applicants for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Control Specialist (ATCS) positions were referred for additional assessment after failing to be cleared with the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2). These 454 were offered the opportunity, at the FAA's expense, to undergo additional assessment to arrive a determination of their medical fitness (Aeromedically Qualified or Disqualified). The rate of agreement between the assessment psychologists and one of the centralized psychologists (the author) was calculated.

Results:  In 288 (63.44% of) cases the assessment psychologist and the FAA review psychologist agreed on Qualified.  In 39 (8.59% of) cases the assessment psychologist recommended Qualified, while the FAA review psychologist determined the applicant to be Disqualified.  Conversely, in eight (1.76% of) cases the assessment psychologist recommended Disqualified, while the FAA review psychologist determined the applicant to be Qualified.  In 106 (23.35% of) cases the assessment psychologist and the review psychologist agreed that the applicant was Disqualified.  Finally, in 13 (2.86% of ) cases the assessment psychologist could not arrive at a disposition,  Overall, psychologists who performed assessments arrived at a recommendation that was accepted after review in 86.78% of cases.

Conclusion: While the number of disagreement is relatively small, the minority (13.22%) point out the value of centralized review. Centralized review helps assure fairness by minimizing the situation of an applicant being incorrectly deemed medically unfit and helps assure safety by minimizing the situation of an applicant being found medically fit when they are not. Moreover, it resolves those situations where the assessment psychologist cannot arrive at a recommendation.


Ray King | Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, D.C.

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