John is an experienced expedition medic and thoroughly lovely chap! He kindly invited us into his home for a cup of tea following our interview and his words of wisdom reassured us about our own career choices. Though he has worked in a range of different environments, we focus here on his ten years of providing medical cover in one of the most remote and extreme environments in the world – the Antarctic.
I was always told at school not to even bother applying for university… and my grades reflected that motivation! After school, I ended up working in a voluntary position in northern Canada for a year working with a remote air ambulance service. I then went back to the UK, decided to apply for medicine and was rejected by everywhere! But a week before the year started, I picked up the phone to all the medical schools in London and got three offers of a place due to people who had pulled out at the last minute. It always pays to ask!
After my training, I ended up in General Practice for around 15 years in northeast England. I became heavily involved in pre-hospital care and took as many expedition jobs as I could. One was medical cover for a gap year trip in Svalbard for three months; that caused great consternation as the partners thought I was never going to come back!