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A US Navy surgeon lives 'every doctor's dream' during a stint in Fiji

This story, by Michael Tsai appeared in my hometown paper, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin recently and I thought I'd share it with readers. 

If Victoria McDonald's first visit to Fiji bore the sweetness of a honeymoon, her second had the gravity, even more literally, of military operation.

Lt. McDonald and her colleagues aboard the USNS Mercy recently participated in a massive humanitarian mission under the auspices of the Pacific Partnership, an annual deployment of personnel from the U.S. Pacific Fleet, working in collaboration with regional governments and nongovernmental organizations.

It was the first time McDonald had lent her surgical skills to such a large-scale initiative, and the experience of working in concert with medics, nurses, hospital corpsmen and other medical personnel and closely engaging with a community in need of care was deeply satisfying.

"It's every doctor's dream to do a mission," McDonald said.

Indeed, McDonald said she knew early on that she wanted to be a doctor. Likewise, she understood at an early age the ways in which the Navy could help her further her career goals.

McDonald's father, Conrad Divis, was a career Navy man. The family settled in Honolulu when McDonald was 10, a move welcomed by her mother, Michiko, who was born and raised in Japan, and by McDonald herself, who found that her hapa background was no longer an impediment to fitting in.

McDonald graduated from Punahou in 2000, completed her undergraduate education at New York University then received her medical training at Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md.

In clinical rotations during her residency at Naval Medical Center in San Diego, McDonald fell in love with surgery and the ways in which it allowed physicians to identify and fix serious medical problems.

Before long she also met and fell in love with her future husband, Lucas, an orthopedic surgeon. The couple married in 2012 and, yes, honeymooned in Fiji.

While the demands of her career choice can be daunting, McDonald finds support wherever she needs it.

She says her father is behind her career "100 percent." In turn, McDonald said her experiences in the Navy have allowed her to "understand his commitment to his profession, the Navy and his country."

In husband Lucas, McDonald said she has a companion who intimately understands the specific complexities of life as a Navy surgeon.

And on her recent trip to Fiji, McDonald also encountered a friendly face from home: Lt. Cmdr. Kristin Stevens, a fellow Punahou graduate.

"I'm just so excited and privileged to have been a part of this mission -- to take part in something larger and to do real good for people," McDonald said.

Reach Michael Tsai at


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