David | Aviation Medic

David has spent his career in Aviation Medicine, a field we knew very little about prior to this conversation. He is one of those people who is extremely humble about what is in fact an incredibly interesting and varied career! It was a pleasure hearing about his experiences and learning what working as a Chief Medical Officer of an airline involves.

My story

I graduated in 1986 and my first paycheck as a house surgeon went on flying lessons; it was something I had always wanted to do.

Straightaway, I wondered if there was a way to combine aviation and medicine.

I did a bit of research into what options were out there and that led to me joining the Royal New Zealand Air Force. I did a total of eight years as a medical officer which was fantastic. There were only six of us - doctors, not the entire Air Force! - so we got to do a bit of everything. There was general practice, aeromedical evacuation, training, deployments. I spend a couple of months in Bahrain during the first Gulf War, and was involved in the follow up and investigation of air crashes. It was a great way to apply skills I had learned in medicine to a different environment.

But it has always been challenging to recruit doctors to the military as you do have to relinquish control over your existence to an extent. So, although I found it endlessly interesting, four years in I decided to go and get a ‘real job’. I became an anaesthetic registrar for just over a year and although I did enjoy it and it was a very viable career pathway, I decided I couldn’t face decades of being locked in a room with no windows! So, I returned to the military for a further four years.