A Surgeon's Lifetime
Evolution in General Surgery 1959-2001
by David Watkin
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Pub Date 28 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 28 Nov 2023
‘See one, do one, teach one’ was the basis of David Watkin’s training as a surgeon in the 1960s. By the time he became a consultant, he had ample experience but had received little supervision. He was determined to improve the experience for his juniors. Later, this led to chairmanship of the national committee responsible for training in general surgery.
Not from a medical family and with no experience of serious illness or hospital, David had only decided to study medicine when in the sixth form. After training in Bristol, Leicester, Derby and Sheffield he was appointed a consultant in Leicester. He was then invited to be inaugural clinical sub-dean, in charge of setting up clinical teaching in the new Medical School.
Comprising ‘guts, glands and arteries’, David relished the broad scope of general surgery, including emergencies. But surgery and the NHS were changing, with technological advances and surgical innovations. When general surgery evolved into specialties, he became a coloproctologist by day, though still a generalist at night. A member of the council of the Association of Surgeons, he was closely involved in these changes. Finally, he was elected president of the Association for 2000-1.