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Distance aviation medicine class "very close"

Friday 7 March 2014 11:40am

Dr Benjapol Engkaninan, a Masters student at Otago's Occupational and Aviation Medicine Unit Dr Benjapol Engkaninan, Occupational and Aviation Medicine Unit student

Dr Benjapol Engkaninan’s childhood dream for an aerospace-related career was reignited when he began working with three aviation physicians in Thailand, inspiring him to enroll at Otago in the world’s leading distance course in aviation medicine.

Ben is one year into a Master of Aviation Medicine (MAvMed) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Aeromedical Retrieval and Transportation (PGDipAeroRT) while working for Australian travel health and assistance company, Global Doctor, in Bangkok, Thailand. Until taking up his Global Doctor position, he had graduated from Rangsit University, Bangkok, and taken part in an Internal Medicine residency program in New York City without realising an aviation physician career path was open to him.

Two of the aviation physicians Ben works with are Otago alumnae. Following their advice, he enrolled in the courses offered by Otago’s Occupational and Aviation Medicine Unit (OAMU). Ben has developed a remarkable enthusiasm for the Unit’s support.

"I was surprised how one simple assignment and his comments changed and improved my academic mind set and skills."

Well-connected experts on hand

“OAMU has changed my life completely, giving me an effective, logical, scholarly mindset, a life-long learning community, professional guidance, critical thinking skills, decision making skills and academic communication skills. We OAMU students have the privilege to receive guidance from incredibly well-connected world experts in aviation medicine. They are very accessible and have a strong passion to teach, guide, coach and advise you.”

Even receiving the “the worst mark in my student life” from Clinical Senior Lecturer Dr David Fitzgerald for his first assignment didn’t dent Ben’s zest for his courses.

“I carefully read and analysed Dr Fitzgerald’s feedback, [which] were an invaluable lesson on how to write a better academic article. I was surprised how one simple assignment and his comments changed and improved my academic mind set and skills.”

First rate learning platforms

Ben says OAMU administrative staff support is “fabulous” and Otago’s distance learning platforms first rate. He meets his classmates in regular webinars and a dedicated chat room. Every year they meet in person in a different place during the Professional Visits Programme, last year’s was in Auckland, this year’s will be in Dubai.

“This makes us very close,” he says. “We also have personal direct contact with every professor when we need advice. During my last webinar we had four OAMU professors who are world experts in commercial and military aeromedical transportation, and about 20 experienced life-long learners; so it wasn’t just two-way communication, but a group discussion with the aviation medicine master-mind group!