Q & A
I came to complete my fellowship in surgical oncology. I knew I wanted to specialize in breast surgery, particularly breast cancer. One of my mentors, the late Professor Sir Thomas Symington, encouraged me to seek surgical training in the USA. In the mid-1980s there really were no “breast cancer” fellowships as such, so additional training in cancer surgery really meant additional training in surgical oncology. I’m a firm believer that additional training correlates with better patient outcomes. There are data that show this to be true.
What is your nationality?
I hold citizenship of both the USA and the UK, and have dual nationality. I became a US citizen in 1997. A test was involved for which I’m sure I over-studied. I was required to write a sentence in English, which is my native tongue. I wrote, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
How did you start medical school so young?
In the UK one normally starts medical school straight after high school. Scores in national examinations, in my case “Highers”, determine entrance into medical school. I started primary school at a young age. At four Mother decided I was “underfoot” and needed to go to school. The local primary school would not admit me till I was almost 6, so I was admitted to a private primary school in Troon, “Brooklands” at age 4. My entrance to the University of Glasgow required a special interview because of my age.
Can you explain the difference between MBChB and MD in the UK?
The degree with which one can practice medicine in the UK (the qualifying degree) is the MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery). Some universities may award MBBS or MBBCh. This degree is equivalent to the US MD or DO degree. In the UK, the MD degree is an advanced academic research degree, a higher doctorate degree, similar to a PhD.
What drew you to become a surgeon?
Surgery drew me. My family was not a medical one; my mother was a primary school teacher and my father was a tailor. I knew at thirteen that I was meant to be a surgeon. I believe that I was called, and that I am doing what God intended me to do with the talents given to me.
What is your philosophy of patient care?
I think of how I would like to be treated myself. There is a children’s novel The Water Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby, by Reverend Charles Kingsley published in 1863, in which there is a spiritual leader, the fairy, Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby. I loved reading that book as a child. The motto, do-as-you-would-be-done-by, can apply to many aspects of life, including work ethic.
What are your memories of Troon?
I consider myself fortunate to have grown up there. My parents moved there in the mid 1950s because they loved it so much. So part of my love for Troon is inherited. Troon has long sweeping beaches, the Atlantic Ocean, sand dunes and many fabulous golf courses— what a combination.
Tell us about the artwork forming the backdrop for the website.
The images are of paintings by the Troon artist Peter Foyle, whose style and subject matter I love. There is another connection in that my mother took up painting in her 70s (“everyone should have a hobby”), knew Peter well, and was a frequent visitor to his gallery in Troon. I am delighted that Peter allowed his paintings to be used for the website.
Learn more about Dr. Diane Radford.