National Medical Laser Centre, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University College London, United Kingdom
Stephen Bown is Professor of Laser Medicine and Surgery and Director of the National Medical Laser Centre at the Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, England, and Honorary Consultant Gastroenterologist at the University College London Hospitals.
After his first degree (BA physics), he went to Harvard - ostensibly to do a PhD in physics, but in reality to get away from all local influences and decide what he really wanted to do. Volunteer work at the Boston City Hospital convinced him medicine was the answer, so he signed off with an AM (which included an elementary biology course) and went back to his tutor in Cambridge. After a little negotiation, and with one week's notice, in January 1967, he started as a medical student, being allowed to catch up on the course that had started the previous October. With clinical studies at University College Hospital London, Professor Bown qualified in 1971, despite a couple of little hiccups with examiners (life as a medical student was somewhat more relaxed than as a physics student)!
In 1975, with an MRCP behind him and a general feeling that the Health Service was falling apart (what's changed?), he went to one of his recent bosses, Professor Jack Shillingford at the Hammersmith Hospital. He asked him, "Do you think I would be mad to take two years off and go round the world?" The answer was 'No', so off he went. Four months as doctor to 80 people driving overland to India in 4 buses, followed by a year as a clinical lecturer at Singapore University Medical School (where he and a pal taught themselves endoscopy in a ward side room). He then spent a few months as a flying doctor in outback Australia. Wonderful - highly recommended to everyone!
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