John McMaster, MD: ‘Fly the airplane first’
“Dr. McMaster knew I was in serious trouble and didn’t hesitate. He’s a decision-maker and that was important in saving my life.”
Dr. John McMaster, who has served in the emergency departments of Via Christi Health’s Wichita hospitals for more than 26 years, began pursuing his pilot’s license while attending Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School.
He received his undergraduate degree from Wichita State University, his master’s degree at the University of Kansas; he received his medical degree and did his residency through Louisiana State University.
While at WSU, McMaster met his wife, Nancy; obtained his pilot’s license; and like his attorney father, Frank, became an avid glider pilot. The McMasters now have two grown children, Brian and Traci, and a son, Austin, who is a senior at Kapaun Mt. Carmel. McMaster continues to fly in his free time.
He decided to become a doctor, he said, “because I enjoy science and had a desire to care for people. I wanted to use my scientific knowledge and expertise to promote good health and well-being.”
He was drawn back to Wichita by the lure of family, aviation and the city's need for physicians with knowledge and training in emergency medicine.
“There was a tremendous need,” said McMaster, who was one of the first physicians in Wichita to be board certified in emergency medicine — a field that requires the same decision-making skills as flying an airplane.
“Sometimes you don’t have all the facts and have to shut out the background noise, chaos and uncertainty and have to quickly put your expertise to use to benefit the patient,” he said. “Or as my dad always said, ‘In an emergency, fly the airplane first.’”
McMaster also enjoys getting the chance to serve at the west Wichita hospital.
“I love the family, farm and community orientation of the people I see here,” he said. "They're a joy to take care of."