Surgeon adept at the art of persuasion

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 January, 2011, 12:00am

Four years ago, Professor Fan Sheung-tat tendered his resignation at the University of Hong Kong's medical school, citing a heavy workload and lack of time for his beloved clinical practice.

But colleagues convinced Fan, a medical icon who performed the first liver transplants in Hong Kong and also pioneered important techniques for the treatment, to reconsider.

Today, as head of more than 100 surgeons at Queen Mary Hospital, it is Fan's turn to convince colleagues not to leave for the far more lucrative private sector.

He continues his clinical duties, taking part in at least one major surgery a week, although he no longer directly oversees the liver transplant team.

'I need to attend surgery so I can follow developments in treatment,' he said. 'It also gives me a good idea of the needs and working conditions of our surgical teams. For liver transplants especially, I need to be in theatre to observe and think about new surgical procedures.'

After staying on to lead the liver transplant team for two years, Fan took up an administrative post as head of surgery.

It is a very different situation to the one he faced in October 2006 as he pondered resigning.

'In the past, my administrative duties were fairly trivial,' he said. 'Now it is a completely different matter. It's not just a matter of looking after the department's day-to-day administration, but helping plan its long-term development.'

Fan will soon complete three years in his post. New rules at the medical school limit the term for a department head to six years.

He is leaving his options open about staying on. 'I don't know yet,' he said. 'I am still able to take care of patients through either public or private medicine.'