John Overton’s skills as a collaborator have been honed over four decades of a career evolving in two phases, the first as a cardiothoracic vascular surgeon and emergency physician, and a second, current phase as a nationally-recognized leader in emergency medical transport systems. Throughout both phases of his career, John has worked to improve process and outcomes by collaborating across professional “silos” and seeking value-based, ethical solutions to common clinical problems. He now offers his expertise to organizations extending beyond medicine and aviation, combining his vast knowledge in those fields with a fundamental understanding of human behavior and socio-technical system design.
John has had both the pleasure and distinction of training under two of the giants of medical and aviation safety of the 20th century. John received his pediatric surgical training from Dr. Lucian Leape, widely regarded as the father of patient safety in in America, now Professor Emeritus at the Harvard School of Public Health. In addition, John became friends and trained with Dr. Robert Helmreich at the University of Texas at Austin, renowned for his development of such programs as Crew Resource Management (CRM)/Team STEPPS, Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA), and Threat and Error Management (TEM).
In 2011 John served as the medical officer for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). In addition, John has served on the board of the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) (2005-2011), a multi-disciplinary board representing medical specialists, critical care and transport nurses, respiratory therapists, aviation and aviation maintenance experts. He completed a two-year training program in Risk Management with Aerosafe Risk Management of Sydney, Australia (2005-2007) and served as the Senior Medical Risk Advisor for an Industry Risk Profile on Helicopter EMS Transport (HEMS) in the United States that was published in 2009 by the Flight Safety Foundation. From 1997 through 1999 John led a multi-disciplinary hospital team that worked with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and thirty-six other cardiac surgical programs nationwide in a two-year project devoted to improving outcomes in cardiac surgery. John is a certified Just Culture champion and has trained Just Culture across numerous medical transport programs and at national professional association meetings.
John has contributed to the professional literature during both phases of his career. He contributed to several articles published in peer-reviewed medical and surgical journals and contributed content about the physician’s perspective on health care facilities designed for safety (Reiling, J. 2007. Safe by Design: Designing Safety in Health Care Facilities, Processes, and Culture. Oakbrook Terrace, IL: Joint Commission Resources). He co-edited a reference book on creating a culture of safety and quality in medical transport systems (Overton, J. W. Jr., Frazer, E., [Eds.]. . Safety and Quality in Medical Transport Systems-Creating an Effective Culture. Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited.).
He is board certified in both Emergency Medicine and Cardiothoracic Surgery. John practiced cardiothoracic and vascular surgery for fifteen years (1986-2000) while maintaining his interest in trauma care as a consultant for chest and vascular trauma.
He installed the first trauma database in Minnesota and collaborated on development of the National Cardiac Surgical Database. Prior to his surgical career, John completed two years of residency training in primary care plus obstetrics and gynecology after which he practiced emergency medicine for six years (1974-1980). John earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and his Medical Doctor degree at the University of Virginia. John has been a general aviation pilot for over three decades, spanning both phases of his career.
John can be contacted directly via email at: