The Doct-Aviator

Much has been said about how medicine should strive to emulate the enviable safety record of the aviation industry. This has led to a thorough examination of how the two “industries” compare and contrast.

One of the more interesting comparisons was published in the MJA:

It is said the medical profession should learn from the aviation industry, which has a much better safety record. This is possibly because pilots get a mandatory 8 hours’ sleep. They also have to rest between shifts, for longer than the hours worked. Pilots do everything in duplicate to ensure accuracy. Most importantly, the pilots know that if their passengers are going to die, they are going to die too. So, I think it is high time that medicine looks into emulating the aviation industry.

However – before we doctors start to feel too downtrodden, we should remember what we do better than the aviation industry:

For instance, all airline passengers (possibly except those in the front with the free French wine) are expected to exit the plane in the same condition as they entered. In medicine, we expect that they will leave in better condition. In this regard at least, the airlines should learn from us.

And, of course, it is this altruistic aspect of our work that renders too strict a comparison futile.

What about this idea of fitting your own oxygen mask before helping others? Just imagine if all doctors treated themselves first and then looked after the young, old and disabled.


Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of three amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

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