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Astronaut Explains When Risking It Just Isn't Worth It

Scott Parazynski, M.D., is the only astronaut to have summited Mt. Everest. His career in the space program and taste for adventure have taught him a few things about managing risk, a subject he lectured on at the 2017 Hinman Dental Meeting. In this clip, Parazynski, who is also the CEO of Fluidity Technologies, explains when it just isn’t worth it to risk it.
DMD Staff
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, April 5, 2017


Scott Parazynski, M.D., is the only astronaut to have summited Mt. Everest. His career in the space program and taste for adventure have taught him a few things about managing risk, a subject he lectured on at the 2017 Hinman Dental Meeting. In this clip, Parazynski, who is also the CEO of Fluidity Technologies, explains when it just isn’t worth it to risk it.
 
Interview Transcript (Modified for Readability)
 
“Making critical decisions in life-or-death situations is very challenging even with lots and lots of experience and training. I think, first and foremost, you have to think about the ultimate goal, which is brining everyone back safely. It has to be the highest-level order for the team. When you have to make a decision whether to pursue a summit or a mission goal in a spacewalk, for example, versus getting everybody back in safely, it’s a pretty simple thing to do. You put all of your resources to crew safety. Most of the time, those decisions are kind of insidious. There’s one setback that happens after another, and the real challenge to a leader is identifying, ‘Things are starting to turn south here. I’m detecting a pattern. We need to stop and rethink or retreat.’
 
RELATED: More Advice from Scott Parazynski, M.D.
 
· How to Think Critically about Risk
 
· Rethinking Risk in Extreme Environments
 
Thankfully, I’ve been trained and developed a lot of experience in a lot of different environments that have given me the sensitivity see some of those raising the hair on the back of the neck situations and making the decision to waive off early.
 
Recently, I went to Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua – the youngest lava lake in the world. It’s a very dynamic, eruptive environment. We were looking at magma from the inner parts of our planet and lots of eruptive activity taking place nearby. Making the call to notice the subtle differences in trends and pulling the team out early is just one example that comes to mind.”
 
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