Alumnus provides global care using different modes of transportation

Mark McDaniel, D.O. has provided medical care to patients on land, by air and at sea.

The 1995 West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) graduate doesn’t like to have idle hands, so he uses his hands and a whole-person approach to medicine by providing care to patients through different forms of transportation. He has experienced a variety of outpatient clinics from as far north as the Aleutian islands of Alaska and south to the Bahamas. He has also worked inside the Grand Canyon for the Indian Health Service where the only mode of transportation in is by walking, helicopter or by mule. McDaniel has worked at several emergency rooms in several of the seven states he is licensed to work. The family medicine physician also has his maritime mariners’ certificate to work at sea and is a ship surgeon for two cruise lines. He has training in aerospace medicine and has deployed with the military all over the world utilizing his aviation medical experience as a flight surgeon. 

“I get bored with one job so I have to have a variety,” McDaniel said. “I just rather be working, learning and doing new things.”

After McDaniel graduated from WVSOM and completed a residency in Clarksburg, he joined the military where he practiced family medicine in Mississippi for two years. He attended the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine to become a flight surgeon and began traveling the world — he’s been to 87 countries. The physician was sent to England as his first flight surgeon job, and after Sept. 11, 2001, was deployed to Masirah Island, Oman and then went on to Ramstein Air Base in Germany where he was involved with aeromedical evacuations between Germany and Iraq/Afghanistan. After numerous deployments, McDaniel separated from active duty and then transferred to the reserve military and joined the “Hurricane Hunters” at Keesler Air Base in Mississippi for about a year before he returned to West Virginia and joined the 130th West Virginia Air National Guard.

While overseas in England, the Charleston native also worked for NASA, assisting with one of the shuttle programs. He was a Transatlantic Landing (TAL) physician, which was a position as a flight surgeon that had to deal with a worst-case emergency should the space shuttle have to abort after launch and land at alternate sites in Europe or ditch in the ocean.   

“There were a lot of things going on (with a TAL). There were ships at sea, abort landings can go to several different locations, also potential abort landings in the water so you had para-rescue jumpers ready for rescue operations. You had to go out in the C-130 (military plane) with large medical kits and supplies, coordinating with local hospitals and rescue teams,” McDaniel explained of the procedure experience. “You had to learn the gases on the shuttle and vent locations as well as how to cut suits off the shuttle crew.”

A few years later, McDaniel decided to try another venture in his career — becoming a ship surgeon for Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean.

“It’s a floating city, where you have to take care of everything,” he said.

Most cruise ships have two doctors and they can treat cases like fractures, heart attacks, strokes, hypertension and diabetes.

“In certain emergency situations the passenger will need to be flown off the ship by helicopter to a port for more definitive care,” he said.

And being a physician on a cruise ship means dealing with much more than passengers. McDaniel said not only are there clinic hours, but safety briefings, crew physicals, coast guard drills and constant training. While the on-board physician may see 20-25 patients a day, the doctor is always on call.

No matter how he delivers medical care, McDaniel said, he’s surprised just how often he uses osteopathic manipulation with his patients.

“The big thing with WVSOM and the osteopathic approach, is you don’t realize how much you use manipulation, but I’m amazed at how much it’s used in the military, on a cruise ship and in general practice,” he said. “For instance, military pilots flying for long periods of time often can’t take certain medications, and osteopathic manipulation is a way to alleviate their pain without causing them to lose work.”

McDaniel currently is the state air surgeon for the West Virginia Air National Guard, senior ship doctor for Norwegian Cruise Lines and ship doctor for Royal Caribbean, as well as the medical director at St. Mary’s Urgent Care, medical director at First Energy and the medical director at the Charleston Comprehensive Treatment Center, an addiction clinic in the Charleston area.  

Date Added: 
Wednesday, November 29, 2017