Well-travelled medico prepares for next career challenge

Published on LEUT Geoff Long (author), LSIS Ryan McKenzie (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Choules (L100)

Medical Officer Lieutenant Jonathan Stacey in the HMAS Choules Medical Centre off the coast of Ulladulla, New South Wales. (photo: LSIS Ryan McKenzie)
Medical Officer Lieutenant Jonathan Stacey in the HMAS Choules Medical Centre off the coast of Ulladulla, New South Wales.

Medical Officer Lieutenant Jonathan Stacey in the HMAS Choules Medical Centre off the coast of Ulladulla, New South Wales.

Medical Officer Lieutenant Jonathan Stacey in the HMAS Choules Medical Centre off the coast of Ulladulla, New South Wales.

Royal Australian Navy Medical Officer Lieutenant Jonathon Stacey has packed a lot of variety into his six-year Naval career to date.

So far he’s been deployed on patrol boats, amphibious landing ships, minehunters and frigates, which collectively have taken him to a variety of ports in faraway places including Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Guam.

As a high school student growing up in the regional Queensland town of Warwick, a career in the Navy had not yet crossed his mind.

However, a stint working as a paramedic was a useful stepping stone into the medical profession, which was facilitated through Defence.

“The ADF paid me to study and allowed me to get a medical degree and now travel the world, which I had never contemplated growing up in country Queensland,” Lieutenant Stacey said.

He currently works at the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Health Division and is posted to ships as required, often doing two or three deployments per year.

Lieutenant Stacey’s twin brother, Andrew, has also found himself working in the medical profession, although the similar career paths have been a surprise to both of them.

“We both left high school in Warwick and had no idea what we wanted to do. But I became a paramedic and then a doctor and he went off and did medical science and works in a lab.

“We both just randomly came to each other one day and said we’re going into medicine and becoming doctors, even though neither of us had mentioned the plans beforehand.

“After coming on a ship’s family visit organised by Navy, he’s very excited about what I do and loves it, though he’s not sure he could do it himself,” Lieutenant Stacey said.

He nominates his own career highlight to date as a port visit to Hakodate in Northern Japan on HMAS Gascoyne, where he got the opportunity to meet with his Japanese medical counterparts.

“I’d been to the other ports in Japan and I’d come to the country when I was younger, but coming to the north side of Japan was just a whole different experience.

“Because I'm also a dive doctor, we were able to look at their boats and their dive chambers for treating decompression illness and see how they do things compared to how we do it, so there was a lot of sharing of information.”

As for the future, a recent posting to HMAS Choules has given Lieutenant Stacey exposure to Navy’s Air Medical Evacuation team, which is a career path he’s interested in pursuing.

As he explained, his previous career as a paramedic has given him a lot of exposure to the types of work conducted by AME teams.

“In a lot of ways it’s similar to what I did in the civilian world so I know what they’re doing, what their skills are.”

“That’s the kind of job I'm looking at doing and I’ve spent a lot of time talking to the AME team about how to make that move.”

In the meantime, Lieutenant Stacey is continuing to enjoy his current role, both the medical side and the wider Navy lifestyle on board ships.

“Doing the physical training, doing the damage control exercises, going on the bridge and seeing what’s going on - they are things that not a lot of doctors get to do.

“Being inside a big gun on an FFG (frigate) when they’re firing, and helping them to load the 76mm shells, now that was fun!”