Grad Profile: Med School valedictorian reflects on L.A. filmmaking past and a new future in medicine

David Hung, Faculty of Medicine

- May 21, 2020

David, centre, with his parents Orlando and Jeanette Hung, at the premiere of Travis Scott's Netflix documentary, "Look Mom I Can Fly." (Provided photo)
David, centre, with his parents Orlando and Jeanette Hung, at the premiere of Travis Scott's Netflix documentary, "Look Mom I Can Fly." (Provided photo)

This article is part of a series focusing on the grads of the Dalhousie Class of 2020. Visit our Class of 2020 virtual space to share in the excitement with our newest graduates.

David Hung was sitting in Kanye West’s office when he learned he would be attending Dalhousie Medical School.

Born in Palo Alto, California, and raised in Halifax, David originally set his sights on becoming a skateboard video director. Armed with a camera at a young age, David and his friends started to make music videos, commercials, short films and even a feature film, in addition to medical education videos with his physician father.

“I feel like in film there’s these really fast-paced and high-stake environments,” says David. “That was where I thrived.”

While working on filmmaking projects in Halifax, David completed a BA with Honours in Theatre at Dalhousie but decided to follow that need for high-stakes into a career as a paramedic.

Although working as a paramedic allowed him to follow his passion for a fast-paced environment, combined with his inherent interest in medicine — filmmaking options in Halifax were limited.

The road to L.A.

David, and his friends Tyler and Jacob, made the incredible decision to move to Los Angeles to follow their filmmaking dreams. Over a span of two years, they made the right connections and began working with rap superstars such as Kanye West and Travis Scott, and celebrities like Kylie Jenner.

Tyler worked with Kanye West on tour, and then toured with Travis Scott, which eventually led to the Netflix original documentary, “Look Mom I can Fly”, which David worked on as an editor and cinematographer.

Even with this burgeoning success in the industry, the pull to practise medicine remained. So with the support of mentors such as Dr. Ron Stewart, who was supportive of David’s Arts career and passion for pre-hospital and emergency medicine, David finally decided to apply for medical school.

“He was a huge inspiration for me to not only pursue this as a career but also to keep rooted in my creative outlets and mediums,” says David.

Fast-forward to sitting in Kanye West’s office. At the time they were just finishing up work on the music video for the hit song “Famous,” but uncertain what the next job would be and where the next paycheque would come from.
“When I got that letter, it was a huge relief,” says David. “It was something that not only represented hard work and determination that everyone who applies puts in, but it represented stability which is something I think I was looking for at the time.”

Staying grounded

Four years later, and David is set to graduate from Dalhousie Medicine School as valedictorian of the Class of 2020 and preparing to start his residency in Emergency Medicine in Halifax.

He’s travelled the world learning what makes a strong leader and observed the collaboration it takes to make a hit record– which is a nice correlation to working successfully in interprofessional teams.

While from the outside it seems that he has been chasing the thrill of filmmaking with stars, or the high-acuity world of emergency medicine, it’s been those closest to him that have kept him grounded and helped him survive medical school.

“My wife-to-be, Meghan, was a huge part of my success. Being able to have a person to talk to, to go on adventures with and experience life together outside of the hospital was the key to my wellness,” says David. “Now we have a beautiful daughter, Violet, and spending time with her is all that matters.”


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