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Richard Asher

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Teachers: remembering the bad lessons
Harold Lambert Physician
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We had really good teaching, partly for what I mentioned before that a lot of people had come back from the wars and I don't think I appreciated this at the time but there were people there who, as supposedly junior doctors, had seen the most incredible amount of stuff of all kinds - tropical medicine, war wounds of course, everything - and they taught us mostly, I have to say, I don't have a sort of great father figure thing about this place, I have to say most of them were very conscientious and very good teachers. They could strip you off. There was a good deal more, you know, kind of aggression and sadism going around but, you know, it wasn't all that bad really. The women did get into a bit of, but they could get- give as much as they could- whatever it is; they could give as much as they got, you know. So I do remember a lot of unnecessary sarcasm, which I thought was completely ridiculous. I remember there was a hand clinic even then. Pilcher was a forward looking chap and realised that people didn't treat hands with the respect they deserved and there was an incredibly arrogant surgical registrar that was doing this clinic and the patient was sitting there and he examined me about my knowledge of the finger anatomy, which was I would have to say, dismally absent then he handed me the scalpel and said open this chap's finger and I thought- that's a rather stupid thing to do. So I had plenty- I'm remembering the bad lessons, aren't I, more than the good ones? Well, they obviously stand out, don't they? They do stand out. And I suppose that's one of the things one can say about, about, about education that, that you, if you're a sensitive person you, you do learn from the bad things but not necessarily to follow them one hopes. You really do. Yeah. Yeah, it's true.

British doctor Harold Lambert (1926-2017) spent his career tackling infectious diseases, helping in the development of pyrazinamide as an effective treatment for tuberculosis. He also published work on the rational use of antibiotics and was a trustee and medical advisor for the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Listeners: Roger Higgs

Roger Higgs was an inner city GP for 30 years in south London, UK, and is Emeritus Professor of General Practice at Kings College London, where he set up the department.

He gained scholarships in classics at Cambridge but changed to medicine after a period of voluntary work in Kenya in 1962. He was Harold Lambert's registrar for 18 months in the early 1970s, the most influential and exciting episode in his hospital training. He set up his own practice in 1975. He helped to establish medical ethics as a practical and academic subject through teaching, writing and broadcasting, and jointly set up the 'Journal of Medical Ethics' in 1975.

His other work included studies in whole person assessment and narrative in general practice and development work in primary medical care: innovations here included intermediate care centres, primary care assessment in accident and emergency departments, teaching internal medicine in general practice and establishing counselling services in medicine.

He was made MBE in 1987 for this development work and now combines bioethics governance, teaching and writing with an arts based retirement.

Tags: University College Hospital

Duration: 1 minute, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008