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Centenary Souvenir

Dr Suzy Lishman President of The Royal College of Pathologists

Dr Suzy Lishman always wanted to be a ballerina and attended ballet classes for many years. Appreciating that this was more of a hobby, she realised her other ambition of wanting to be a doctor. Suzy came from a medical family and is grateful to her aunt, now a retired Respiratory Physician, who showed Suzy that women could have successful careers in medicine. Suzy followed her aunt to train at Girton College, Cambridge, even though her school tried to dissuade her, and then at the London Hospital Medical School. As a student, Suzy used to spend school holidays with her aunt at work, and while watching bronchoscopies, wondered what happened to the biopsies that her aunt took. Whilst a medical student and a junior doctor, Suzy became interested in the scientific basis of disease and enjoyed the challenge of finding out why a patient was ill, how their diagnosis was made and what the most effective treatment was. Her fascination with diseases at the cellular and molecular levels led her to pathology, and she has never looked back. Suzy’s best career move was applying to University College Hospital to study histopathology where she spent five years. Her mistake was taking the Part 1 FRCPath exam at the first opportunity and failing it. Although Suzy had read lots of journals and books, she had not spent enough time looking down a microscope and now realises that it was probably good for her not to sail straight through her training, but it did not feel like it at the time. “You are not in it alone, and the support of colleagues, even at the most challenging times, makes the tough times bearable and even enjoyable,” she says. Suzy was appointed Consultant Histopathologist at Peterborough City Hospital and is now Head of Department and Lead for gastrointestinal pathology. She was an Officer of The Royal College of Pathologists since 2005 and was responsible for the development of the College’s public engagement programme. She has raised the profile of the specialty tremendously by introducing public engagement initiatives such as National Pathology Week, which started in 2008. Since then over 2000 pathology-related events for schools and the public have been held in the UK and beyond. She has also collaborated

with the Science Museum, Royal Institution, Royal Society and Cheltenham Science Festival. Suzy was elected President of the Royal College of Pathologists in 2014 and is the College’s second female President and the first (and only) College President to have her Twitter username on her College business cards. Suzy is an avid user of social media and regards her biggest achievement a s communicating the importance of pathology to non-pathologists. She has continued clinical work whilst President and under her direction, National Pathology Week in 2014 included, for the first time, an annual International Pathology Day. Su z y h a s d e l i ve re d hundreds of talks to schools and interested public groups for many years, and in its inaugural list of the 50 most Inspirational Women in healthcare in 2013, the Health Service Journal described Suzy as the “Public face of pathology” and “the most outward facing person from that specialism.” She appeared on BBC 4’s Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home after her successful work performing ‘virtual autopsies’ at the Old Operating Theatre in London. Suzy is most inspired by Dame Carol Black, who has achieved so much, has huge energy and enthusiasm and has been so generous in supporting others to achieve their potential. Suzy does not believe that she could have been President without Carol’s support and advice. * Favourite Song: Dancing Queen by Abba * Three objects Suzy cannot live without: My mother’s gold Tiffany necklace, My Wedding ring, My cat

Suzy’s advice to junior doctors is “Don’t rush into taking exams you are not ready for. There is a temptation to take them at the earliest opportunity but that can be stressful, and failure can be demotivating. Apply when you and your educational supervisor think you are ready.”


Medical Woman – Magazine Centenary Issue, April 2017  

The magazine for the Medical Women’s Federation (MWF), the largest and most influential body of women doctors in the UK which aims to promot...