Real Pilot, Fake Doctor: Got Background Check?

Nick Fishman

Question: What do United Airlines Pilot, Dr. William Hamman and I have in common?

Answer: We are both not cardiologists or any other type of doctor for that matter.  However, one of us pretended to be. And that person is not your favorite background screening blogger.  Stop me if you’ve seen this movie.

A.P.: Pilot Duped AMA with Fake M.D. Claim

He seemed like Superman, able to guide jumbo jets through perilous skies and tiny tubes through blocked arteries. As a cardiologist and United Airlines captain, William Hamman taught doctors and pilots ways to keep hearts and planes from crashing.

He shared millions in grants, had university and hospital posts, and bragged of work for prestigious medical groups. An Associated Press story featured him leading a teamwork training session at an American College of Cardiology convention last spring.

But it turns out Hamman isn’t a cardiologist or even a doctor. The AP found he had no medical residency, fellowship, doctoral degree or the 15 years of clinical experience he claimed. He attended medical school for a few years but withdrew and didn’t graduate.

His pilot qualifications do not appear to be in question — he holds the highest type of license a pilot can have, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said. However, United grounded him in August after his medical and doctoral degrees evaporated like contrails of the jets he flew. He resigned in June as an educator and researcher at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., after a credentials check revealed discrepancies, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Doctors who worked with the 58-year-old pilot are stunned, not just at the ruse and how long it lasted, but also because many of them valued his work and were sad to see it end.

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Just asking, but wouldn’t a thorough employment background check have uncovered this charade?  I imagine that performing an Education Verification with the medical school or performing a Professional License Check might have done the trick.

Note to United.  I hope that this post in no way, shape or form compromises my frequent flier status or upgrade request I recently made with your airline.  I love to fly the friendly skies!

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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