Richard Schimmel (MSW ’86) once thought social work might be a good “back-up” as he pursued his airline pilot’s license. Now he’s living proof that social work skills are applicable to any profession. When he became a Continental Express pilot in 1995, Schimmel helped the commuter airline initiate a peer program to monitor the rehabilitation progress of pilots with self-reported substance abuse problems. He also helped establish “Crew Resource Management,” training pilots in conflict resolution and techniques for reducing human error. Later expanded to include cabin and ground crews, the program also reduces the animosity typically found in stressful work settings and helps airline employees deal with increasing instances of “air rage” among passengers. Today, Schimmel plays a leadership role in the Critical Incidence Response Program at Continental Airlines, which he joined in 1999.
Richard Schimmel, MSW ’86