I’m a doctor, though I’m not practising clinically now. In the 1980s I trained as a trauma surgeon, including five years working in some of the most violent parts of Southern Africa. Then I changed direction, and for the next 17 years I was a general practitioner (GP) in the South West of England. In 2000 I changed again, joining Imperial College London to develop the field of Surgical Education.
As Professor of Surgical Education and Engagement Science I do educational research and lead a Masters programme. I’m also fascinated by connecting with people outside medicine. I’ve developed realistic simulations so they can experience what happens in an operating theatre or consulting room without risking harm. My team and I have featured in science fairs, museums, public events and music festivals all over the UK and beyond. I’m much in demand as a speaker at conferences and symposiums, and I’ve been described as ‘a natural with the spoken word’.
Now I’m researching medicine, science and engineering as sites of craftsmanship and performance - perspectives that are often overlooked. I direct the Royal College of Music - Imperial Centre for Performance Science, which gives access to some of the world’s leading performers in music, sport and safety-critical professions such as combat flying and exploration. I’m also a member of the Art Workers’ Guild, and in 2019 I became the 14th Professor of Anatomy at the Royal Academy of Arts, where I’m exploring how artists, doctors and scientists perceive the human body.
I’m always on the lookout for new ways of thinking about my work, and I love exploring ideas through conversation. In my fortnightly podcast Countercurrent I invite scientists, artists, musicians, clinicians, craftspeople and writers to take part in free-flowing improvised discussions, with around 200 conversations to date.