Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

In conversation with… Floating Doctors

30 January 2018

"It might be a remote village cut off from any other type of aid, there doesn't have to be a dock or a port, there just has to be a coast and wherever that coast is, we'll get there."

 

RCSI alumni-led 'Floating Doctors' returned to the College on the 30th January 2018 to share their story of providing healthcare to world's most isolated communities.

From earthquake-struck Haiti to the jungles of Panama, Dr Benjamin La Brot (Medicine, 2006) and Dr Ryan McCormick (Medicine, 2014) captain ‘Floating Doctors', a fleet of year-round voluntary crew boats which travel by sea to provide free acute primary care, teach preventative healthcare education and deliver critical medical supplies.

With TV's Colette Fitzpatrick at the helm, the Floating Doctors took to the stage, in front of a packed audience of alumni, students, staff and guests, for the fifth event of the alumni ‘In conversation with...' series. The series showcases RCSI alumni and other inspiring role models who are pioneers in their field, celebrating those who have been successful as healthcare innovators and global thought-leaders. The event marked the opening of the RCSI Charter Day Programme 2018.

In advance of the event, RCSI students had the opportunity to present a cheque to Floating Doctors for €30,000. This money has been fund-raised by students at various events over the past two years.  

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About Floating Doctors

Dr Benjamin La Brot, Class of 2006
Dr Benjamin La Brot is a native Southern Californian with a long association with the ocean. From childhood, he worked on commercial fishing and research vessels and spent countless hours on (or under) the water off the coast of Southern California.

After graduation from RCSI in 2006, Dr La Brot worked in the Irish Health Care System, eventually helping to set up and then run a long-term care elderly facility that also provided acute hospital services.

Travel and private medical mission work in developing countries led Dr La Brot to combine his love of the sea and medicine to bring more help to remote rural communities, founding the Floating Doctors in 2009. In 2010, he led the first Floating Doctors mission to Haiti and has been continuing ever since.

Dr La Brot married the love of his life and fellow crewmate, Karine in 2013 and they have recently welcomed their first child, a daughter.

Dr Ryan McCormick, Class of 2014
Dr Ryan McCormick grew up in Los Angeles, and was actually a high school student of Dr La Brot's many years ago. Over the years, they developed a close friendship and together founded Floating Doctors.

After working for a year rebuilding their first boat, Southern Wind, he worked in the clinics in Haiti and Honduras before making the decision to study medicine at RCSI.

Whilst in RCSI, Dr McCormick took the lessons he learned in providing patient care and expanded on them completing additional education in Emergency Medicine, Wilderness Emergency Medicine, and Trauma Management.

After graduating in 2014, he returned home to Los Angeles where he is currently completing his Medical License Exams and working as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Neurological Emergency Treatment Trials at the University of California San Francisco. Dr McCormick plans to apply to start a residency in Emergency Medicine in July 2018.