United Airlines Pilot Grounded for Posing as Cardiologist

You might assume that those who work in high-trust professions, such as medical doctors, would naturally adhere to a strict set of ethics, and therefore may not require the same strict background screening that would apply to a financial advisor or bank teller, for example. The recent story of a United Airlines pilot posing as a cardiologist shows just how wrong an assumption this can be.

Recent news stories report that for 20 years, United Airlines pilot, William Hamman, reportedly posed as a cardiologist and led seminars for groups at the Western Michigan University Center for Simulation Research, Northwestern University, and on behalf of the American Medical Association (AMA) and American College of Emergency Physicians.

According to news reports, his seminars were widely attended and covered such topics as applying flight skills simulation training to cardiology. In addition to giving seminars, he published in journals with M.D. and PhD credentials attached to his name—neither of which is he reported to hold.

Hamman is reportedly grounded from his job at United Airlines after he submitted a grant proposal at William Beaumont Hospital in which, as part of the grant process, staff attempted to verify his education credentials. He is now barred from giving his seminars with the AMA and his case is under investigation.

During his time posing as a cardiologist, he received a $2.8 million dollar grant to expand simulation training in medical facilities and signed a training contract that paid around $250,000. And while it is believed that he never attempted to treat patients during his time posing as a cardiologist, no doubt this case has left egg in the faces of many who supported his work.

Where Was the Education Background Check?

Look at the negative attention this story is bringing to cardiologists and institutions who relied upon Hamman’s credentials – not to mention the reputation of United Airlines.

And it’s unbelievable to think that Hamman actually led seminars on behalf of the AMA – the body that collects, maintains, and disseminates primary source physician data for virtually every licensed physician in the United States. (Do we need to ask who’s watching the watchers?)

What it boils down to is this: Education background checks are a MUST in any position where an individual’s education-related credential is important. Experts estimate that 40% of all resumes contain misrepresentations. Plus, in today’s world, it is far too easy to obtain fake credentials for everything from a high school diploma to a law degree. And while degree mills and education lies are certainly not the norm, it pays to verify the accuracy and validity of your applicant’s educational claims.

Don’t take a person’s resume and educational claims at face value. Doing so can put your reputation – and more – at risk.

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About MichaelGaul

Michael is a results-oriented marketing executive with over two decades of experience in employment screening, physical security, and business process management. Michael has deep experience in human capital risk management and a passion for educating business leaders and HR professionals on strategies that tangibly protect their interests. Michael serves on the Board of the Secure Cash and Transport Association (SCTA) and is a member of the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), and the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS).
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