HIGIO – Marshall Sangster “I Wanted to Be A Plastic Surgeon Until…”

I don’t come from a family of medics; in fact there are no doctors in my family. As a consequence everything at university was new and exciting. I enjoyed being in theatre but I wasn’t sure which end of the patient I wanted to look after; Initially I enjoyed anaesthetics, but I soon developed an interest in surgery, during my 3rd and 4th years at medical school.


As an undergrad at Dundee University, whilst on a placement in Whitehaven, on the west coast of the lake district, I was exposed to the life of a junior surgeon. With virtually all the general surgical department off with sickness, I acted up, helping on the ward, in clinic, and assisting Mr Walker in theatre.


Mr Walker was an inspirational surgeon and I was hooked; I loved the pace, the skill and precision of surgery.


Straight away, I knew a career in surgery was for me. I got into theatre as much as I could and soon developed an interest in plastic surgery (especially hands). I secured a placement at the Middlesbrough General Hospital, in plastics, for 4 weeks, after which I arranged my medical elective in plastics at the Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand. This experience gave me the opportunity to develop my early surgical skills and only fuelled my love of surgery.


After finally graduating from Dundee University I took up a PRHO post (yes, I am that old) in general medicine in Glasgow followed by 6 months split between General Surgery and Plastics at Ninewells in Dundee. It was during my second six months that my love of surgery was allowed to flourish. I was encouraged by Mr Lavelle-Jones and this gave me the confidence to apply to surgical training.


I managed to persuade the Blackpool Victoria Hospital to appoint me to their basic surgical rotation. My first post was in Ortho with Shameem Sampath, an enigmatic knee surgeon with a passion for surgery, teaching and research. He helped me then and continues to do so. From there, I never looked back, I had a brief return to plastics but I was always more interested in the Orthopaedic theatres than breast and skin cancer work.


I owe much of my career to enthusiastic, driven and passionate orthopaedic surgeons across the country who have continued to support and encourage me to persevere, despite many obstacles along the way.


I can’t say it was easy. I’ve made sacrifices, moved around the country and completed a postgraduate degree, finally settling in Bristol for registrar training.


My last thoughts are; work hard and stick to your dreams.