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I was captivated by clinical medicine


The lucky coincidences that saw my career take off
Harold Lambert Physician
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I think I better say that this business about careers, everybody now knows what they're going to do and how they're going to do it. I would say, apart from those elements of interest in science and doing medicine, it would be wrong to say my career was disorganised. That would imply some level of organisation, which had stopped. It was totally unorganised, and the reason I went to UCH rather than any one, coming as I said from a non medical background, I went to my advisor of studies at Trinity, a chap called Willie Rushton, a nice man who'd only reluctantly got a medical qualification because they said he couldn't go on being advisor unless he did, and I said, 'What about this business of medical school?' and, he said, 'Well I don't know, I went to this place, UCH, University College, and it was quite nice, there seemed to be some quite reasonable people there, why don't you go there?' So I did. I mean, it was ridiculous, that was exactly the story. Like going to Trinity. I... we were working for our scholarships at school and I met a chap in the drive at the, where we were evacuated in the war and he said,'What are you putting in for, your first choice?' and I said,'Oh, Trinity, Cambridge'. He said to me, 'You're aiming rather high, aren't you?' and I was really horrified because I'd put in Trinity because I'd heard about it. It sounded rather, sort of, you know, good place to go and that was my level of ignorance really about what was going on.

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, Trinity College, Willie Rushton

Duration: 1 minute, 28 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008