‘I thought my flying career was over’: Dr Jeremy Robertson’s career change after T1D diagnosis

August 22, 2022

Dr Jeremy Robertson didn’t always want to be a medical doctor – he was actually a commercial pilot when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It was a huge turning point in his life.

Here, he shares his story of how type 1 diabetes helped reshaped his career.

I was diagnosed with type 1 when I was 31 years old and working as an international airline pilot for Qantas. I was in LA on a training course when I became extremely thirsty and experienced blurred vision. A high blood glucose result at a local GP indicated I had some form of diabetes and sent me straight home to Australia.

I knew enough to know I probably had type 1 diabetes, which meant my flying career was over. I was on the opposite side of the planet, six weeks out from my wedding and facing a brand new future.

Story continues below. Watch the video to hear more of Jeremy’s story – including what he wished he’d done differently.

Luckily, my new wife and family were extremely supportive and I was able to take the time to get back on track – both with my health and my career. I decided I wanted to become a doctor, not an easy choice as I hadn’t studied any life sciences subjects since high school.

Since my diagnosis, the rules have changed and I’m now able to work as a pilot with certain limitations. These days I occasionally work as as a flight instructor and sky diving pilot.

And today, I work as an aviation medicine doctor, which means I can integrate my flight experience with my new skills.

I often think about how life may have been different if I hadn’t been diagnosed with type 1. While it was a big loss in my professional life, I learnt that I had to also see the opportunity. Today, I am home every night with my kids and that wouldn’t have been possible in my former career. I believe when one door closes, another will open.