National Honour for doc

Dr Raymond Cowling was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday honours.


FOR more than 30 years, Dr Raymond Cowling has been travelling back and forward from Melbourne to Mildura to offer his services to a regional community he has grown to love.

And this week, the 72-year-old senior pacemaker physiologist was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia as part of the Queen’s Birthday honours.

“I was really pleased, my sister burst into tears when I told her and my partner gave me a huge hug,” he said.

Dr Cowling, the visiting affiliate at Mildura Cardiology, was awarded for his service to community health. While he has worked for many years as a senior pacemaker physiologist and formerly as a senior pacemaker technologist, he has also spent more than 30 years working with people in the recovery phase after an attempt at suicide.

“I thought I would like to help people and I have been able to provide support for those people,” he said.

“I help out as often as they need and it’s good for them.”

The travelling doc has had an extraordinary life.

He first set out to have a career in electronics but it was near the end of his degree that he discovered his passion for medicine.

“To qualify I had to do a year in the industry, so I did it at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, that was my window into medicine,” he said.

“I was fascinated by research and aspects of the heart.

“I married electronics and medical knowledge together and obtained by first job at Medtronic in Minneapolis in the late 1960s, early 1970s.”

It was there that Dr Cowling witnessed the “evolutionary” change from a pacemaker being an external device to something that was placed inside a patient.

“I just happened to be the right person, at the right place and at the right time,” he said.

Dr Cowling returned to Australia in 1978 and was employed at Telectronics and St Vincent’s Hospital.

Almost a decade later, Dr Cowling began visiting Mildura.

“It was 32 years ago that I joined Dr Alan Soward and Dr Kevin Chambers to start offering pacemaker implantations in Mildura,” Dr Cowling said.

“Eight years ago I retired from all of the Melbourne hospitals but still visit Mildura, averaging 102 visits a year.

“I just love the people and the environment and serving a community in need.”

With frequent flights to Mildura each week, Dr Cowling said the great relationship he had formed with Qantas airline had been an important aspect in being able to do his job.

“I remember when I was on the way to the airport and there was a crash on the freeway but at the time there was an emergency in Mildura, I called the airline and they held the plane for me,” he said.

“During my 32 years coming here, there has been four times that they have waited for me and have saved the lives of people needing help.

“It’s that family, community atmosphere that I like and what has kept me coming back.”

Dr Cowling said while he would like to retire in the near future, his patients don’t need to panic yet as he still has a few years up his sleeve.

Story and photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily