VCU alumnus finds the best of both worlds in medicine and aviation
Ting emigrated from Taiwan to the United States as a child, was inspired to pursue a career in medicine by his father who was also a physician. Combining his passions for medicine and flying, he integrated the best of both worlds into his work serving as a flight physician where he rescues injured or ill individuals, performing emergency procedures while in the air.
Ting first took flying lessons as a way to alleviate the stress of his medical residency and to explore an interest he has had since childhood. Although he initially thought flying would be just a weekend hobby, his passion propelled him into a position as a pilot for Kalitta Air while maintaining his medical practice.
We chatted with Ting to hear more about his incredible adventures.
Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? What are you passionate about?
I was in VCU Class of 1990 with a B.S. in chemistry. I was from Taiwan and grew up in Orange County, VA. The three things I love to do are: practicing medicine, flying a Boeing 747 and playing as much badminton as I can on my off days.
Tell us about your experience as a physician practicing emergency medicine?
My emergency medicine residency started in 1996 and since then I have practiced for about 24 years. It has been a very satisfying career. I am glad I was able to make a difference in countless patients’ lives and I am so thankful for all the doctors and colleagues who have trained me or shared their experience with me to make me a better physician.
How did you become a Boeing 747 pilot?
I have always liked to fly ever since I got to sit in a DC-3 cockpit when I was about 10 years old. But I never had a chance to take any lessons until I was in my medical residency. Taking flying lessons was a great stress reliever for me. I became a flight instructor in 2000 and would teach occasionally or fly-for-hire on a part-time basis.
In 2016 when my daughter left for college, I thought it would be a perfect time for me to pursue my childhood dream of becoming an airline pilot. I was hired by United Airlines Express, then went on to fly Boeing 777 for Southern Air. When a pilot position to fly the Boeing 747 came up at Kalitta Air, I jumped on it and was lucky enough to get hired! It's almost every pilot's dream to fly the Queen of the Sky!
How did your experience at VCU inform your career path?
My time at VCU really helped me transition into adulthood. Living away from home for the very first time means I had to manage life on my own. My roommates and friends all helped me and we helped each other to learn how to manage time better between school and work responsibilities while always remember to make time to rest and play.
What advice would you offer to aspiring physicians?
Take it one step at a time. Life is a journey. No need to rush. Always believe in yourself and trust God to take care of the rest. While caring for others, don't forget to take care of yourself and your families too. Know your limitations. Life is precious, and that includes yours.