Dr. Christopher Davis, The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education’s medical director, spent most of his adult life combining his passion for helping others with his love of the outdoors.
He serves as medical director for all of our field courses and trainings, including wilderness medicine and EMS training programs, ad outdoor educator and adventure-based programs. These include custom programs developed by NCOAE, school programs, and branded adventures. And, of course, he loves to spend time in the field teaching.
Raised in Raleigh, N.C., Davis discovered his passion for emergency medicine and emergency medical services as an undergrad, teaching whitewater kayaking, rock climbing and backpacking for Duke University’s outdoor program — Outdoor Adventures.
After leaving Duke in 2006, Davis ran a small adventure travel company, taking customers on sailing adventures throughout the Caribbean and along the North Carolina coast. He also worked as a paramedic and firefighter in Durham, N.C., where he found time to teach wilderness medicine.
Davis began focusing more of his time on medicine, both front country and wilderness EMS, which inspired him to further his education. He applied to medical school, earning his MD from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, followed by training at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C.
He now serves on the faculty at the Wake Forest School of Medicine where he is an assistant professor in Emergency Medicine, specializing in integrating high-quality EMS care into wilderness settings.
We asked Dr. Davis to provide us with some additional information about his background, and to answer a few personal questions that our community might find interesting. Here is his response:
NCOAE: Who is your role model and why?
Dr. Christopher Davis: One of my greatest role models is my father. He’s been a practicing physician for over 40 years, and still is as passionate as ever. He introduced me to Wilderness as a child, arguably one of the most important parts of my life. I hope to have as much energy and drive throughout my life as he does!
NCOAE: What you enjoy doing in your free time?
Dr. Davis: I love spending as much free time as possible on whitewater. I have been a whitewater kayaker and canoeist for most of my life (I started at age 10). If it’s rainy and I’m not at work, you’ll likely find me on the water! Every summer I try to make at least one journey out to a western river for a multi-day raft trip. Drier weather will find me rock climbing on one of my nearby crags. My wife and I also just purchased a dilapidated farm and are slowly reviving it.
NCOAE: You mentioned your wife. Any other immediate family members?
Dr. Davis: So, yes — I am married to my wife Jen, and we have two dogs that we consider to be part of our immediately family. Both are named after rivers — Gunnison (Gunner) who is a 14-year-old malamute mix, and Tuckaseegee (Tuck) who is a 13-week-old border collie.
NCOAE: If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?
Dr. Davis: My ultimate superpower would be ability to breathe underwater. It would really come in handy in big whitewater! Definitely that, or the ability to not have to sleep. That would come in handy at work.
NCOAE: What do you think about when you’re alone in the wilderness?
Dr. Davis: While I’m alone in the wilderness, I often think of what that place looked like 50, 100, or 1,000 years ago. I wonder the impact we’ve had on the land, and the impact it has had on us for generations.
NCOAE: Thinking ahead, 10 years from now, you will be what?
Dr. Davis: I will be happy, because I will have hopefully won a Grand Canyon river permit by then!
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